I saw a previous post on this but not many replies to the person's question. Actually, I have 2 questions. I need suggestions for making videoconferencing between 2 or more elementary classrooms a success and recommendations for a webcam purchase. I will be using Skype and a Smartboard with 2nd graders. Thank you. Mary Beth
We use a fair amount of videoconferencing through Safari Montage Live with the Magnet Schools in our district. Web cams depend on the type of connection you have available on your computer and the budget you have to work with. From what I have found, the small USB webcams such as the Microsoft LifeCam vX6000 are good for settings where students will be able to sit directly in front of the camera (within 6 feet) and will cost you under $100. The built in microphone will only pick up good sound from directly in front of the camera as well. For larger class settings, I prefer to use the built in microphone in my laptop and connect a small camcorder on a tripod to the computer using the DV/Firewire connection. The microphone on the computer is powered and therefore has much better sound pickup. The camcorder has a wider angle lens than the smaller webcam and can be positioned easier than the smaller USB webcams. The camcorder setup (depending on the camera) will cost around $300 with camera, tripod, and DV/Firewire cable.
I think it is great that you are looking in to using videoconferencing with your 2nd graders. If you are looking for other schools to work with, I work with 10 elementary schools in my district and would be more than happy to help you connect with other teachers.
I won't know more about the set up until I am able to get back into school but I am trying to do much of the research now. I will definitely get back to you if it does not work out with the teachers I am currently trying to get this going with.
I think I went "over the top" with the teacher who originally proposed the idea of videoconferencing with me. Do you think you might have a 2nd grade teacher who might be interested? Here is what I would tentatively like to do if all the pieces fall into place (webcam working, Skype working, permssions granted, I'll try the camcorder idea - not sure if I can, and so on - so many details ....):
Photostory as introduction or on our community
Digital Timeline on an ongoing basis
Videoconferencing on curriculum based activities such as plant experiments, shadow experiment, etc
Share an author visit
Book recommendations by kids
I want this to be deeper than "video pen pals", backed by district/state learning standards.
I am open to any suggestions and definitely a newbie in the tech field but an oldie in the teaching field (23 years).
I am also needing to know about permission forms from parents and legalities. Any advice in this area?
Anybody else out there reading this interested or have two cents to put in???????????