Facilitating a Teacher-Generated Project

Lately I've been facilitating a few project connections between teachers. Here are some tips based on what I've learned.

It starts by one of my teachers generating an idea for a videoconference project. Then I submit the idea to various places: the Collaboration Collage listserv, the K12IVC listserv, and the CILC Collaboration Center. Lately I've been getting the fastest response from the K12IVC listserv.

After we get a response (or sort through a whole bunch of responses), I send an email to all the people involved: teachers, techs, media specialists, etc. on both ends of the project. Here's what I include:

Introductions
I give both teachers all the information I can find on each other. Sometimes I google to fill in the details. School name, city, state/province/country, phone number, email. This way they can talk to each other directly.

Dates
Then, since most of the connections currently go through me, I suggest some dates & times based on my knowledge of our teacher's request, their distance learning schedule, and my distance learning schedule. I try to include the information in both time zones (checking TimeandDate.com to make sure I'm right). That way we are all on the same page for the time.

Format
For my teachers new to videoconferencing, if they don't already have a suggested schedule or format, I suggest one for them. Here's an example of my wording. Feel free to copy & paste. 🙂

Here are some suggestions for format. Hopefully, teachers, this will give you an idea to work from and you can tweak it however you want.

Use the Read Across America Format:
5 min. Introductions (be sure to prepare a map for each other)
15 min. One class presents
15 min. The other class presents.
10 min. Ask each other questions.

Or some classes like to rotate:
5 min. Introductions (be sure to prepare a map for each other)
30 min. Classes rotate sharing something (poems, stories, choral reading, song).
One class shares one thing, then the next class shares, back & forth for the time.
10 min. Q&A.

Here's a lesson plan on preparing questions:
http://www.remc11.k12.mi.us/dl/QsLessonPlan.htm
It's a good idea to plan questions for your partner class ahead of time. Or at least have the students think of categories – recess, school subjects, favorite activities, info about the local community, home countries, etc.

Action Items
Finally I end with a reminder of what to do next. Test calls, nailing the dates, teachers working out the details. These are all things that need to be done to get the connection scheduled.

After this, I make sure the test call happens, the teachers get in touch with each other, and the dates are set. After that I leave it to the teachers and enjoy watching the connection when it happens! 

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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