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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Virtual Parents Meeting

Follow this link to see a recording of a virtual parents meeting. This is an online meeting set up by Greg Hodgson for parents of his GCSE students. Greg is talking about the digital art GCSE course he has set up at Chalfonts Community College. The course makes excellent use of the Bucks VLE (Moodle) which is free to all Bucks schools.

You will join the meeting about half way through. It is taking place Thursday evening at 7.30pm. Greg is talking from his home with a glass of wine and a standard broadband connection. A second teacher (Hannah) is also at work in the meeting, again from her home. You will hear Greg talking about the digital art course and how students use the VLE. He shows examples of students' work and how the VLE supports their learning and asessment. He not only provides information about the course, but also explores how parents might support their children.

You will see on the left hand side of the screen that about 24 families have logged in to the meeting. They use text to greet each other and to ask questions. Hannah is managing this part of the meeting and this allows Greg to concentrate on his presentation. You can hear Greg deciding to show the work of one student because her parents have joined the meeting. At the end of the meeting Greg picks up and answers some parents' questions.. Some families joined the meeting together, others joined separately as students logged on from their room. Perhaps 40 people were involved altogether. Other parents can watch the recording afterwards. The whole thing took about 30 minutes.

The parents did not need a training course they were just sent the URL and invited to log in at a particular time. the whole thing was done with domestic broadband. In Bucks all schools have access to this facility - free.

I find this absolutely fascinating, not least because to listen to Greg it sounds perfectly natural for him to be chatting to parents in this way. It changes my perception of how online meetings can be used. I had thought that it was important that there was full two way connectivity between all parties. But this often led to bandwidth problems and 45 minutes of texting 'I cant hear U' or 'is yr camera on?'. Greg demonstrates that it is easy to make a presentation to an audience, anywhere and that the audience can engage easily using text.

This meeting was between a couple of teachers and 24 families one evening. However, it not difficult to think of many other uses. Some of us are involved in developing ideas for the new Diploma's. At present there is much discussion of how students need to move to different venue's for different aspects of the courses. This use of online presentations may be useful.

I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.