I hadn't planned to be "away" from the EdTech Update for so long, but sometimes life gets in the way. It's been crazy hectic at home and work the past few weeks. Mostly GOOD crazy hectic, I can honestly say. I bought a new car, sold an old car, conducted some after school technology workshops, created a handout and links wiki, applied to adopt a dog, and got involved with the Webcast Academy among other things.
I can thank Cheryl Lykowski for getting me into the Academy. And before I say anything else about it, I have to point you all toward Cheryl's latest and greatest project, Global Explorers. In a nutshell, 5th grade students at Cheryl's school will be collaborating with and learning about students in Columbia! And I don't mean South Carolina. Seriously, go check it out.
The Webcast Academy is my first real venture into an online learning community. OK, maybe my online classes count, but this is way better. We've used Skype to connect in a large group chat-- people from China and Germany and Spain and Canada and all parts of the USA. And everybody helps everybody. If I leave my Skype window open I'll see a steady stream of conversations taking place during the day (and night if they are in a different part of the world). People post questions and get answers, and sometimes just chat with their online friends about life in general. It's like having your very own tech support 24/7.
There are several WA screencasts produced by Jeff Lebow using a free online tool called Jing. I've used Camtasia and Captivate, but they're both relatively expensive products. I'll have to try Jing for myself and write up a review. Here's a quote from Jeff about Webcast Academy: "It's been great to work with fellow interns at the Academy to collaborate, commiserate, and extrapolate possibilities for this new media world of live, interactive webcasting."
One of the Academy Interns from California said he would like to use Skype to connect with some professors at a California university to talk with his students about the San Andreas fault. Great idea!
This got me to thinking about how expensive videoconferencing equipment is, and while dedicated VC rooms are sometimes necessary, a webcam and Skype may be all that is needed to break down the classroom walls and to introduce your students to the rest of the world.
Well, it's time to start getting ready for church, and since I'm the organist and choir director, I guess I need to be going. Hopefully it won't be another month until my next post.