A better virtual conferencing experience

Everywhere I looked at ISTE the theme of global collaboration and connecting students to learning exeriences beyond their classroom walls was there.  In addition, the students from Mexico City and Guadalajara stole the poster sessions with their confident, articulate, one-on-one presentations of their classroom projects, including radio programs broadcast over the Web and QR code classroom tours also posted to the Web for comment and collaboration with other classes around the world.  Not only do we want our students to be that confident in the quality of their work, I want them to be inspired by the accomplishments of kids their own age.  When I was an intern at the Congressional Research Service, I remember receiving a research request from a congress member who was going to speak to a youth group.  He wanted to be able to share real life stories of people who had achieved success at an early age.  Showing students the quality of work their peers are doing can be equally motivating.

Last year, I committed to taking every class on a virtual field trip.  I met that commitment for 95% of our classes.  It was often a disappointing experience due to constant freezing of our connection and lackluster programs.  First, I believe programs like the KC3 and other collaborations are one answer to the uninspired programming.  I believe Vidyo could be the answer to the connectivity problem.

Vidyo promises seamless video and audio synchronization even in low bandwidth environments.  The San Diego conference center was an excellent environment to test that claim with the thousands of users tapping into their resources.  Vidyo was very impressive in the smoothness and clarity of the delivery.  The high definition was incredible. 

Best of all, Vidyo can handle connetivity on classroom whiteboards and any mobile device for up to 200 users with 10 concurrent user sessions.  It's easy to imagine how much more likely teachers would be to access this kind of resource for their students.  Students would be more engaged too, as they could interact with the conference on one of the iPods, iPads, or laptops at their desk. 

The Vidyo representatives offered to help identify funding sources for the purchase and pointed out some pretty impressive cost comparisons between it and its' competitors.  In spite of a disappointing year of virtual collaborations, I remain interested in the technology and opportunities. Take a look at this Vidyo promotional video and see if you don't agree.

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