Day 3: Working with Content Providers

20 Days to Being a Better VC CoordinatorDay 3: Working with Content Providers
As a videoconference coordinator, a major part of your work includes interacting with content providers to bring programs to your students. So in today’s challenge, we look at some tips for working with content providers.

What is a content provider?
First, let’s make sure we’re all clear on what we’re talking about. A content provider is a zoo, museum, or similar organization that offers specific programs (content) to schools via videoconferencing.

Two of the most popular databases for finding programs are:

There are several others as well; please feel free to comment and share another favorite site!

Scheduling With Providers
When you first start to work on scheduling with content providers, it seems overwhelming! Each one has their own registration system and different procedures. Here are some tips to help you get organized.

  • Get all the possible dates & times from the teacher.
  • Check all your testing, event, PD calendars, as well as your videoconference schedule.
  • Have everything ready before you register online.
  • If you are registering via email, send all the information in one email.

Here’s a list of the information you’ll need whether registering online or via email or even phone.

  • Your IP address (or ISDN number if you still connect ISDN)
  • What speed you connect (usually 384K)
  • You tech name, email, and phone
  • Trouble number the provider would call DURING the videoconference
  • Teacher name, email, phone
  • Your name, email, phone
  • Billing information
  • The program name that the teacher wants
  • The range of availability the teacher has

I try to get teachers to give me the days of the week they can do, the range of dates they want it, and the times they can do. i.e. (M, W or F; February 1-15, from 10:35-11:25).

I use an email template for emailing content providers, so I can just fill in the needed info and send off the request, knowing that I’ve sent everything they might need.

When you give the provider the range of dates & times you can do, they just have to pick when it fits their schedule, and you’re done! But if you just give one time, then you have to go back and forth until it’s scheduled.

CILC Content Dollar Bank
Now if scheduling is driving you completely crazy, or you just want to consolidate your spending and make it easier, you should check out the Content Dollar Bank offered by CILC. This is a really cool service and can really help manage the daily chores of scheduling VCs.

Content Provider Etiquette
Don’t forget that the distance learning coordinators at the zoo or museum are people too! I can’t think of any content providers who are actually making a profit on offering these programs. They do it because it’s a service to education. Some of them break even on the cost of the materials etc, but they still have staff and technology costs to bring these programs to you. So….

When you have a problem with the program, a cancellation, a snow day, etc…..

  • Call them!
  • Email them!
  • Talk to them!

Most providers have cancellation policies; a few have rescheduling fees.

  • If necessary, get a replacement teacher!
  • Pay attention to their policies and respect them.

Show your appreciation:

  • Thank them for offering these programs!
  • Encourage your teacher to complete the evaluation form.
  • Offer feedback to help them improve.

You challenge choices for today are:

  • Make an email template for scheduling with providers.
  • Make yourself a handy sheet with all the details about your system so it’s ready when you need to register.
  • Check out the CILC Content Dollar Bank and see if it might work for you.

comment1 When you’re done, please comment and tell us how it went. Do you have any other tips?

Comment image by Mark James under Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution License.
Papers image by lotyloty on Flickr
Money image by jenn_jenn on Flickr


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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5 Responses to Day 3: Working with Content Providers

  1. Great post! You’ll see a link to it from The Wired Classroom.

  2. Saly Staner says:

    I made a form for our building ITS to complete when requesting a video conference from a provider and another form when requesting a vc collaboration with another class either in our district or not. I set an alert on the form so that when it is submitted I immediately know and can then process it! I only allowed for one date so the tip about using a date range or several dates will be added to my forms and hopefully help with all the back and forth emails, phone calls etc!

  3. Pingback: Working with Content Providers « The Wired Classroom

  4. Janine Lim says:

    Sounds like you’re using a Google form – are you? Is it online? You definitely want to reduce all those back and forth emails!! 🙂

  5. Sally Staner says:

    I’m using a Share Point form.We post all our Educational Technology documents, etc in a Share Point portal we created.

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