Communication

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Classroom Connections

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Video Conferencing

    The Internet gives a tremendous advantage to those who use it for communication purposes. Whether it be through e-mail, Web sites,  video or phone conferencing, or distance learning,  the Internet can do it at the click of a button.  The ability to communicate in these various methods multiplies the resources available to schools and teachers, greatly increasing opportunities for both teaching and learning. 

    Imagine your class exploring an ancient civilization with an archeologist or  following scientists to the depths of an ocean half way around the world while communicating in real-time videoconferencing .  Many rural school districts, as well as financially disadvantaged urban school settings, now have the potential to access information and educational resources that may not otherwise be available. Thanks to the advances in networking technologies, students can now interact with their instructors via video conferencing, collaborate in new ways with other students, teachers and experts, and connect to school systems around the world and collaborative resources such as National Geographic for Kids and the Jason Project collaborations with scientists.

     Below you will find information on the variety of communication tools available for teachers, students, parents and administrators that will enhance classroom communication through technology. Although some forms of communication on the Internet, such as videoconferencing and streaming video, require multiple software packages coupled with powerful servers to handle the combinations of operating systems and viewing software, most Internet  communication tools are either free or relatively inexpensive.

 

Home/School Connections

      Teachers struggle daily trying to answer all their students' questions and keep parents informed about daily events, special announcements, homework assignments, upcoming projects, and planned monthly events.  Increasingly, teachers are using computers and the Internet to maintain contact with parents, many through free sites that act as communication hubs. A variety of on-line sites are available to teachers to create their own classroom bulletin boards for posting assignments, publishing examples of student work, and sending and receiving messages from parents and students. 

        The following sites are user friendly and take little time to set up and keep updated. To begin to use any of these sites, you first need to register and with the service and log in.  The site will provide you with space on their Web server so that you, your students, and their families can access the information you post.  Although most are free,some require a subscription fee.  Overall these are excellent tools for home/school communications and are great time savers.  It is important to remember that many of your students may not have Internet access, however it is easy to cut and paste the same information into a Newsletter to be sent home.  

*Consider this:  If the site you set up is not updated regularly, it will quickly lose its effectiveness.  

Schoolnotes
www.schoolnotes.com  
Schoolnotes is a user friendly site designed for teachers to put homework assignments, spelling words, calendars, and other school information on the Internet! It’s easy, fast, and free. And best of all, no programming required!

E-board
http://www2.eboard.com/classroom-bulletin-boards/  
This site uses a simple "corkboard" interface where teachers can post messages, photos, files and links online in seconds. Subscription fee required.

Teacher Web
http://www.teacherweb.com/  
This site allows teachers to create their own class Web sites to post assignments, announcements and other educational material on their own classroom bulletin board. Subscription fee required.

Bigchalk
www.schools.bigchalk.com

Myschoolonline
www.myschoolonline.com

Blackboard
http://www.blackboard.com/
Blackboard is a free service that allows instructors to add an online component to their classes or even teach their entire course online.  

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Classroom Communications 

    Students have questions and questions lead to learning when there is an opportunity to obtain answers.  Teachers can not always have the answers, but thanks to technology and the Internet, students have opportunities to contact “experts” who are available to answer student questions. Network links invite students  to acquire the information they want directly from experts anywhere in the world.   The following Web sites have been designed especially for students to communicate and collaborate as they become a part of a world wide community of learners:  

Communication with Experts

Ask Dr. Universe
http://www.wsu.edu/DrUniverse/

Ask An Expert
http://njnie.dl.stevens-tech.edu/askanexpert.html

Pitsco’s Ask An Expert
http://www.askanexpert.com/

Ask Jeeves for Kids
http://www.ajkids.com

 

Homework Helpers

    A wide array of Homework Helper sites range from real-time  individual  tutoring help to full-scale portals that deliver quizzes, research links, expert advice and more. Most of the basic help resources listed here are free, however, some site charge fees to access their libraries and tools.  They also vary in the type of help they offer ranging from live tutors to short online lessons that supplement curriculum areas.  The following sites are considered some of the better Homework Helper sites:

On-Line Tutor
http://www.tutor.com
Online tutoring  with mostly certified teachers and graduate students using whiteboard, chat, and targeted lessons. Sessions can be expensive although the first 15 minutes is usually offered free.
*Consider this:  Make sure you can sample tutoring services and find out if the company screens its tutors and if they have varying prices for specific tutors.

www.school.aol.com
Q&A to general homework queries; best for k-8

www.bigchalk.com

www.factmonster.com

www.mathforum.org/dr.math

www.homeworkhelp.com

www.encarta.msn.com

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Online Collaborative Projects

    By joining an online, collaborative project, your students can become a part of a community of learners.  They will be collecting data, providing information, creating, designing, and cooperating in projects with students from all over the world.  This is a wonderful way to use real life/real time learning that is motivating and crosses all areas of the curriculum.  One teacher, somewhere in the world coordinates the project guidelines and meets the deadlines.  After the project is finished, much learning from the completed project takes place.

To receive notice of projects available or to look at a project registry go to:
The Global School House
http://www.gsn.org
Go to Lightspan's Collaborative Projects - Go to Project Registry or to receive the postings, scroll down to Join Hilites.

Flat Stanley Project
http://www.enoreo.on.ca/flatstanley/index

Internet Projects Registry
http://www.gsn.org/pr/_cfm/index.cfm

Monarch Watch
http://www.monarchwatch.org/

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Teacher to Teacher  

     Teachers no longer have to be isolated within their classroom. They can enjoy a world-wide web of interaction.  Listservs, discussion boards, threaded discussions, professional chat rooms, and video conferencing all provide occasions for teachers to dialogue with other teachers. They provide a way to share information, ask questions, solve problems and connect with others. They might gain ideas, learn a new strategy, or simply “air” an issue asking for suggestions for remedy.  This form of communication also provides a place to share success stories or professional concerns.  

Listserves

Listservs are an email-based discussion format and there are many of these available. Below you will find some education and distance education listserv groups that you might consider joining. Please also visit the E-Mail Discussion List site which contains a larger list of listservs in the area of general education, k-12 education, and educational technology.

Teacher to Teacher
http://www.teachnet.com/t2t/
You can get your e-mail daily, weekly, or in digested form.

Connected Classroom
http://connectedteacher.classroom.com/home.asp

Grade Connection
http://www.imagicomm.com/abreding/
Listserve especially for teachers of Grades 3-4 and 5-6

The Marco Polo Listserv
http://www.mpfoundation.com/maillist/join_maillist.cfm  

E-Mail Discussion Lists and Electronic Journals
http://edweb.gsn.org/lists.html
List of listservs in the area of general education, k-12 education, educational technology and education reform. 

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Videoconferencing

      One of the many benefits of video over the Internet is the ability to communicate through videoconferencing. Videoconferencing provides participants the ability to conduct interactive conferencing between various locations, eliminating travel time and costs while promoting better collaboration. Participants can interact in the video meeting just as they would if they were sitting in the same room. This synchronous (real-time) communication allows participants to share information and respond immediately to questions and/or concerns.  While this type of communication can be costly and require complex and expensive equipment to successfully communicate, it is ideal for real-time communication, learning, and collaboration. The current most widely deployed videoconferencing model for distance learning and video conferencing is H.323. which is proving to be a more cost effective and reliable networking standard.

    Not only is videoconferencing beneficial for teachers, it is highly effective when used in the classroom for student interactive discussions with experts.  Projects such as the Jason Project, which allow students to ask questions in synchronous communications with scientists, provides invaluable learning experiences for students and teachers.

Windows Net Meeting
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/

K-12 Videoconferencing
http://neirtec.terc.edu/k12vc/index.cfm

JasonProject
www.jasonproject.org

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