Don’t Let H1N1 Interfering with Student Learning!

When students are out sick for extended periods of time they miss more than the content that they are able to make up.   They miss the valuable class discussions and peer questions.  In science, often students will miss participating in a lab and I have to supplement with reading a section in the textbook or a website and answering comprehension questions, which rarely brings the same learning experience that the science lab can bring.

Let technology keep your kids involved while they are at home sick.  Here are a few ideas:

Skype

What it is – A free download that includes four key features: call computer to computer for free, instant messaging with file sharing capabilities, video conferencing, and low cost computer to phone or cell phone calls to anywhere in the world.

How it can help –

Last year I had a student of mine skype me during their class period while he was at home sick (yeah, I almost fell out of my desk chair when this happened!).  He knew that he was missing a fun lab and wanted to still be able to participate.   Via the video chat feature on Skype, he conferenced with his lab partners to provided valuable feedback and support for trouble shooting as they used the web cam to show him what they were doing and where they were having problems.

It even works if the Swine Flu attacks you!  While at home sick last year, students were struggling with the instructions the guest teacher provided them and needless to say they were in a great debate about what was to be done.  A student asked the sub if they could check Skype to see if I was online.  In a few short minutes, I was able to clear up the confusion using the computer to computer call feature (no need for video when words will do!

Ustream.tvView a channel

What it is – It allows you to broadcast live video feeds straight from a web cam or video camera connected to a computer or upload pre-recorded video.  These videos are archived on your “channel” for people to watch when they would like.

How it can help – If you have several students out and your class is having an important discussion that they need to see or hear then they can watch online during their scheduled class time.  Students can even participate via a live feed chat “audience comments” box.

Vyew

What it is – This free online program allows you to share your computer screen with multiple people at once.  In addition you can turn on your microphone so your audience located elsewhere can still hear what you have to say about the content you are showing and sharing on your computer.

How can it help – If it is the content you are displaying to the class that is more important than a video of you standing in front of you class teaching them the ways of the world, then you may want to consider this tool instead.  Vyew will allow students to follow along with what is on your screen just by going to a private URL that you share with them.  They can see and hear what is happening on your computer screen during instructional time.   There is even a “raise your hand” feature in the chat area of this tool.

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