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Videoconferencing: Using
Blended Technologies to
Engage Students
Alberta Education
• Alberta’s VC Capacity
• Lessons Learned from VC Projects
• Professional Development for Teachers using VC
• Workshop Goals & Overview
Videoconferencing Capacity in
Alberta K-12 Schools is Growing Table 2.1: Number of Videoconferencing Sites

# of Sites

Videoconferencing Site Prior to As of August Total

Locations March 2005 31, 2006 Difference
Elementary school 31 109 78
Junior High school 9 47 38
Senior High school 31 91 60
Central office 16 64 48
Virtual/Outreach school 8 25 17
*K-12 18 56 38
*7-12 4 57 53
*K-9 16 30 14
Other 11 36 25
Total 144 515 371
*Note: These categories represent video conferencing site locations not specified in the reporting form but offered by responding jurisdictions.
VC Capacity Funding Reporting
• Key Findings
Figure 3.2 Average (Mean) Use of Video-Conferencing Equipment

Teaching and student

learning (e.g. full-course
delivery, learning
14% enhancement)
Administrative uses (e.g.

41% Professional
development and/or
13% training

Specialized services (e.g.

speech pathology,

VC Capacity Funding Reporting
• Key Findings
– Two in five (40%) jurisdictions used videoconferencing to
offer full-course delivery. Jurisdictions doing so were
almost exclusively located in rural Alberta.
Figure 3.3: Jurisdiction Use of Videoconferencing
in the 2005/2006 School Year for Full-Course



Yes No
VC Capacity Funding Reporting
• Other Key Findings
– 70% of jurisdictions reported having used
videoconferencing in the 2005-2006 school year.
– Where videoconferencing was used for full-course
delivery, it was generally at the senior high school level
(80%) in mathematics (33%) and science (33%).
– Benefits realized in the use of videoconferencing were
reportedly primarily in teaching and student learning,
with many jurisdictions explaining that the technology
served to lessen isolation and increase course access
for schools and students in rural communities.
– The $60 000 grant supplied by Alberta Education was
primarily used to invest in videoconferencing equipment
(an average of 61% of funds) and supportive technologies
(an average of 21% of funds).
Phase 2 VC Call for Proposals Findings

12 K-12 school districts 9 universities/colleges

Note: Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No. 2 and Portage College reports pending.
Positive impacts and benefits were realized…

• Increased understanding of, appreciation

for, confidence with, and professional
capacity with videoconferencing among

• Enhanced technical infrastructures that

support videoconferencing and related

• Improved technical support for this

Positive impacts and benefits were realized…

• Appreciation by students and other stakeholders for

videoconferencing as a flexible and beneficial
learning opportunity. Specific benefits were noted in
the areas of:
– second languages,
– enriched blended learning approaches,
– inquiry-based activities,
– and increased understanding of Aboriginal culture and
Positive impacts and benefits were realized…

• Of particular note, are the reported improvements

in curriculum design and development that
resulted from these enhanced collaborations;

• Development of valuable partnerships among

jurisdictions and institutions;
Positive impacts and benefits were realized…

• An increased understanding of other benefits of

videoconferencing including:
– time and money savings for administrative, parent
council, technical team, and professional learning
community meetings and for delivery of specialized
programs and services;
– increased flexibility in and accessibility of programming;
– a more focused vision, strategy and implementation for
Technical obstacles and challenges top
participants’ lists…

• technical challenges
related to equipment
delivery and installation,
networking, and
determining optimal
classroom configurations
within existing spaces;
Other obstacles and challenges which some
participants faced…
• Staffing challenges;

• Time tabling issues;

• Some participants found that conventional models

of schooling and teaching tended to impede

Most of these obstacles and challenges were

addressed early enough in the projects to minimize
their negative impact on projected goals and
Participants met the majority of their goals &
• Participants reported successful implementation
of their plans with respect to:
– equipment installation and operation;
– technical training;
– professional development;
– curriculum development and programming;
– Partnering;
– information dissemination; and
– evaluation.
Participants’ recommendations align with
essential conditions…
• Participants recommendations closely aligned with the
essential conditions for implementing technology initiatives
put forward by the International Society for Technology in
Education[1]. Recommendations related to:
– leadership,
– thorough planning,
– ongoing professional development,
– sufficient and well-functioning hardware and software,
– reliable broadband connectivity,
– skilled personnel,
– supportive policies, and
– ample technical assistance.

[1] International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE); National

Educational Technology Standards (NETS); Essential Conditions for
Implementing NETS for Administrators; Copyright ISTE 200-2005;
Retrieved August 2006, <http://>
Participants’ recommendations align with
essential conditions…
• Specific recommendations of interest included:

– Provide opportunities for students and teachers to meet

face-to-face early in the term to socialize and encourage
– Ensure the pace of change is appropriate (related to

– Use a blended technologies model, employing various

technologies and learning resources;
– Establish and promote a shared vision and cultivate
commitment by all parties;
Participants’ recommendations align with
essential conditions…
• Specific recommendations of interest included:

– Implement a cross-ministerial videoconferencing network

and global address book;

– Continue to offer support through NAIT’s technical

training courses, the Broadband Summer Institute, and
ongoing development of;

– Encourage divisional teachers to partner in the use

videoconferencing for classroom projects and other types
of sharing, and provide half-day, rather than full-day,
videoconferencing workshops; (Northern Gateway Public
Schools); and

– Provide or engage in further research.

Overall Conclusions &
• Reported impacts and benefits suggest a positive future for
videoconferencing programming in Alberta
– Many schools and post-secondary institutions are still at early
formative stages, that is…
– Technical issues are still being resolved,
– Promising practices using inquiry-based approaches are not yet
the norm but continue to be explored,
– Cross-jurisdictional/institutional partnerships and collaborations
are maturing,
– Stakeholder support for videoconferencing is growing as their
understanding is enriched through experience, and
– Supportive policies and procedures are being established.
Overall Conclusions &
• Evaluation techniques vary, action research is limited, and long-
term planning appears to be a challenge for many;

• Participants recommend improvements in the areas of:

– leadership,
– planning,
– professional development,
– pedagogical practices,
– hardware and software,
– connectivity,
– skilled personnel,
– policies, and
– technical assistance.
Overall Conclusions &

• Alberta Education, together with the professional

learning community, would benefit from further
research and the continued sharing of knowledge
and information
Opportunities for Learning to use
VC in Teaching and Learning
• Alberta VC Regional Leads Network
• 24 Regional Leads
• Cathy King, Regional Leads Network Coordinator
Broadband Summer Institute
Elevate 2008 – Banff August 24-27, 2008
Today’s Workshop: Goals
• To assist teachers in engaging students in learning in distance
courses delivered through VC and a blend of technologies by:
– Providing a base of research to give teachers a rationale and direction
for using a blend of technologies and active learning teaching strategies
– Providing opportunities for teachers to see and discuss promising
teaching practices involving teaching with VC and a blend of
technologies in action and to understand the elements involved in
creating a successful learning and teaching experience with VC and
other technologies
– Providing information and ideas that teachers can take back with them
to their classrooms to make immediate connections and enhancements
to their VC teaching assignments
• To allow teachers to build an informal network of professional
contacts to further support their implementation of promising
teaching practices involving teaching with VC and a blend of
technologies through planned interactions and discussions
• To model the active learning process using technology through all
workshop activities
Today’s Workshop: Format
Who is here today?
Which grade levels are you teaching with VC or are interested in
learning about teaching with VC?

Elementary Div.

Elementary Div.
2 High School
16% High School Junior High
48% Elementary Div. 2
Elementary Div. 1

Junior High
Who is here today?
Which technologies are you teaching with during VC courses or are
most interested in teaching with?

Interactive whiteboard
Digital still/video
camera, 27 Desktop collaboration software
Blogs/wikis/podcasts, Interactive
25 whiteboard, 71 Document Camera

Multifunction scan/fax/print
computers, 17

Student email, 23 LMS

LMS, 19 Student email
software, 63
Multifunction Student computers
scan/fax/print, 31 Document Camera,
51 Blogs/wikis/podcasts

Digital still/video camera

Who is here today?
What option best applies to you or describes your interest in engaging
students with VC?

May be teaching 1 or
more courses in near
43% Currently teaching 1 or
more courses using VC

I'm an administrator or
support person for those
who will beor are teaching
21% with VC
Who is here today?
What subject areas are you currently teaching with or are interested in
learning about teaching with VC?

Second Other
Math Math
Languages 5%
15% Physics
Social Studies Language Arts
Social Studies
9% Second Languages
Language Arts
12% Biology
My wishes for you today
• Ask questions
• Share your experiences and ideas
• Make connections with others