Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 4 2007- Danny Maas

From my perspective as a gr 4/5 teacher in a mid-size urban community, the two utilities that come to mind are connecting with primary resources and virtual museum trips- perhaps Glenbow, Ukrainian Village, Alberta Provincial Museum, Alberta Legislature? In the new Social Studies curriculum, working with primary sources is an essential outcome. VC can be a conduit for connecting to primary sources. VC would be most effective if interaction is highly maximized. Linking up with perhaps an author-Cecilia Barker Lottridge or Elizabeth George Speare? Other technologies ie email, blogging would likely be more feasible .VC’s utility in connecting rural and remote areas is obvious. The influence of rural politics upon educational practice in Alberta’s political landscape could have been an impetus to the promotion and usage of VC throughout the province.

After the presentation I did some research on VC. Essential to its’ success appears to be “specialized” instruction. I concur. I’ve only been involved in two VC experiences. Although I asked for specific directions to participate in a VC, the host indicated it would be just like F2F. However, it was not! Research confirmed the unique circumstances of VC requiring training of teachers. Professional development and administrative responsibilities are other areas VC could be useful. Our district due to its size cannot always afford “big name” speakers but we could in collaboration with others participate in professional development. Also, as we continue to work with unique students with special needs, consulting among stakeholder groups becomes more common. It would be an ideal forum to receive consultative services from Stollery, the Glenrose or Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Some things to consider though are the high costs of VC infrastructure and the required technical support for optimal success. VC is considered a technology in its’ infancy. As technologies such as Skype,MSN, icHAT become more advanced and multipurpose will VC become the 80’s BETA machine in the corner?

Some things to think about..
*rural vs. urban utility
*facilitation skills
*financial justification
*connection to curriculum
*course Delivery
student engagement
-blending of technologies
-active learning
requires extra planning time
tech support required
Virtual Musuem Trip
- ie Boreal Conservation Centre for Bird Conservation
Tyrell Musueum ($200.00

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