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Video Conferencing at Papanui High School:: Revision

PHS ICT PD –EOY Milestone report: Mr. Joseph Holland ICT PD Facilitator

During 2012 at Papanui High School (PHS) we have had some very useful and interesting video conferences (VC). Video Conferences have been utilised greatly in recent months by our scholarship students who have attended VC with other schools here in Christchurch for the following subjects: Physical Education, Physics, Biology and Calculus. The students joined a link hosted by the Greater Christchurch Schools Network (GCSN) and then a teacher (tutor) at a particular school presented the tutorial.

(Left) Two Year 13 Students at Papanui High School take part in a Scholarship Physics VC. Scholarship Coordinator Mrs. Josie Welsh, found ‘the technology very easy to use’ and commented that ‘it has a huge amount of potential in terms of tutorials for scholarship’. Additionally, ‘it has given our students a chance to link up with students from other schools’. Another student attending a Scholarship tutorial reflected on the experience: ‘I found the video conferencing really good and easier to use once you knew how. I would recommend it to other students as it allows students to interact and it is an easy system to get a hang of’.For more information and help see the GCSN website: http://gcsn.school.nz/support/vc/overview

Another exciting and informative VC held was by Futureintech , this VC created interest with students . It was presented by Forensic Scientists and captivated students with ‘real life’ stories and powerful imagery. HOD of Science Mr. Graeme Hall sums up his experience with Video Conferencing:   I have used the VC once this year with FutureinTech. Not the most successful day as the other school we were conferencing with could not establish its link so it was not interactive. Also it did impose on the speakers a certain way of presenting their information which did not suit our students in the room particularly. However had it been just our school I am not sure we would have got the presentation at all. Set up with 2 imported people who were technically competent still took about 10 minutes in a presentation of 45 minutes. Having used it on at least 5 occasions I have yet to come to grips with the technical side of running a session by myself possibly due to the lack of repetitive use needed to make such activities intuitive.

For more information see this link: http://gcsn.school.nz/community/news/futureintech-ambassador-gillian-chandler-esr

Other Video Conferences that students and teachers have taken part in were an English writing seminar focusing on micro and macro written skills with author Denis Wright, it was a hands on approach of which students got a lot out of this session. Later had a VC with a Canadian High School researching community response to a natural disaster. Students here at PHS shared their stories with the Canadian students on their experiences with the Canterbury earthquakes.

Staff Professional Development on Video Conferencing has been given on an ‘as need basis’ and a simple session showing teachers how the VC unit works and operates is given. Bookings for VC are made via our KAMAR student management system. PHS first obtained Video Conferencing Gear from ‘asnet Technologies’ in mid 2010. Gear on a trial basis in the first instance and then purchased sometime later. A dedicated VC room would be ideal but we operate from a Careers room that is only partially timetabled, therefore the room can be booked for specific Video Conferences. Before you decide to set up a VC in a particular room talk to someone who can advise you on the right environment such as lighting and other factors, as they may affect the quality of your Video Conference.

Teaching staff have been overall impressed with the simplicity in using VC at PHS; however the difficulty has been finding suitable video conferences to join and to keep staff interested and thinking about video conferencing as a technology that they should try and look at utilising for their classes, or to create one themselves. Once a VC has been organised it is very easy to join and take part in. The only resources needed are the right internet connection (talk to your school systems administrator) and the VC gear. From here it is simply up to you.