My Web Conferencing Journey has transformed my teaching practice. It started with ‘Music Matters ‘, a virtual conference to share best practice in Music Technology for Primary Education. Through the Virtual Conference Centre I invited music educators to join me and invited experts in certain fields to join us online. This proved to be an amazing tool for Professional Development and collaboration.
I have conferenced with teachers and students around Australia and the world. The innovative part of this project has been realizing the opportunities that online presentations can give. I then extended the project to include students and the idea of making music together without distance being a barrier is very powerful. The Virtual Conference Centre means that I can collaborate with teachers and students worldwide. We share professional learning and reflections on music education. There are amazing web conferences available every day in the Virtual Conference Centre, with professional development sessions available in many subject areas. Recordings of sessions are also available if teachers or students are not available to attend at the session time. http://guidetoinnovation.ning.com/events
The collaborative nature of web conferencing allows all students to have a voice in the lesson. Even the quietest student has the confidence to express an opinion or answer a question, as the writer is not visible to the other students. I am delighted to have found a tool that has the ability to stop distance being a barrier to any student, teacher or school. Not only can the classes learn together, they can collaborate on a shared whiteboard , talk on the microphone, see each other on the webcam and chat in the chat window. I have realized that, although I teach in isolation in my classroom, my students and I can reach out to the world. I now have colleagues from around the world to connect with and experts around the world to learn from. I am consistently challenged to try new ideas and supported in my learning. In return, I try to be a support to my new colleagues, wherever they may be. My web conference journey has extended to many other areas. In ICT lessons we use the Virtual Conference Centre in class. The polling tools are excellent for instantly finding out student responses and the emoticons are a wonderful way to teach to point of need and target your teaching to specific concerns. Students are very quick to use a smiley face or a confused face. The virtual applause and thumbs down emoticons give the teacher immediate feedback. Screen captures are excellent tools for lessons, as is the ability to application share and take web tours. The ability to save the shared whiteboard and the chat window provide fabulous opportunities for reflection for both students and teachers.
I firmly believe that sharing ideas in education through technology provides the best possible outcomes for students and makes teachers and students feel connected with each other and with the word we all live in. Instead of working in my classroom with my students, I now feel as if the world is my classroom. If any teachers would like to join me in this journey I would welcome them into our ‘world classroom’!