Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×

Saving this for later?

Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime - even offline.

Text the download link to your phone

Standard text messaging rates apply

Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom ...

1,605
views

Published on


0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
1,605
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
22
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Evaluation for the DfES Video Conferencing in the Classroom project Final Report University of Leicester, School of Education University of Cambridge May 2004
  • 2. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Acknowledgements The members of the evaluation team would like to express their gratitude for the help and support of everyone involved in the project. Particular thanks go to the staff and pupils from all of the participating schools for the generous giving of their time and co-operation throughout the study. We would also like to thank colleagues at the School of Education, University of Leicester for their support and guidance, and members of DfES Project Board for their comments and advice during the evaluation. Thanks are also given for the support, advice and guidance provided by colleagues working on the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project (www.global-leap.com): Mike Griffith, Project Manager, Tim Arnold, Project Consultant and Adviser for Devon Curriculum Services, Mary Wormington, International Officer, Gloucester LEA. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 2 of 104
  • 3. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project CONTENTS Section 1..........................................................................................................................................6 Executive summary ........................................................................................................................6 1 Background ............................................................................................................................6 1.1 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com...............6 1.2 The evaluation.................................................................................................................6 1.2.1 Aims ............................................................................................................................6 1.2.2 Evaluation framework .................................................................................................7 1.2.3 Sample and methods ..................................................................................................7 1.3 Main findings ...................................................................................................................8 1.3.1 Baseline survey...........................................................................................................8 1.3.2 Models of video conferencing use ..............................................................................8 1.3.3 The impact of video conferencing...............................................................................8 1.3.4 Strategic issues...........................................................................................................9 1.3.5 Affordances and barriers to video conferencing use ..................................................9 1.3.6 The impact of technical factors ...................................................................................9 1.4 Conclusions and recommendations ................................................................................9 1.4.1 Conclusions ................................................................................................................9 1.4.2 Recommendations ................................................................................................... 10 Section 2....................................................................................................................................... 12 Introduction.................................................................................................................................. 12 2 Background: Research on educational uses of video conferencing ............................ 12 2.1 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com............ 13 2.1.1 Context..................................................................................................................... 13 2.1.2 The project ............................................................................................................... 13 2.1.3 Educational activities ............................................................................................... 13 2.1.4 Support..................................................................................................................... 14 2.2 The evaluation.............................................................................................................. 14 2.2.1 Aims of the evaluation.............................................................................................. 14 2.2.2 Evaluation framework .............................................................................................. 14 2.3 Sample and methods ................................................................................................... 16 2.4 The research team ....................................................................................................... 17 2.5 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com team... 17 Section 3....................................................................................................................................... 18 Baseline survey: Sample characteristics.................................................................................. 18 3 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 18 3.1 Geographical spread .................................................................................................... 18 3.2 Number of teachers and pupils .................................................................................... 18 3.3 Pupil characteristics ..................................................................................................... 19 3.4 Level and distribution of ICT resources........................................................................ 19 3.5 Connectivity.................................................................................................................. 19 3.6 Video conferencing equipment..................................................................................... 19 3.6.1 Type of equipment ................................................................................................... 19 3.6.2 Siting of video conferencing equipment................................................................... 20 3.7 Viewing video conferences .......................................................................................... 20 3.8 Ancillary equipment and software ................................................................................ 20 3.9 Patterns of use ............................................................................................................. 20 3.9.1 Video conferencing experience ............................................................................... 20 3.9.2 Frequency of use ..................................................................................................... 20 3.10 Age range..................................................................................................................... 21 3.11 Nature of remote sites .................................................................................................. 21 3.11.1 UK links................................................................................................................ 21 3.11.2 International links................................................................................................. 21 3.12 Modes of use................................................................................................................ 22 3.12.1 Type of use .......................................................................................................... 22 3.12.2 Subject areas covered......................................................................................... 22 May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 3 of 104
  • 4. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 4....................................................................................................................................... 23 Models of video conferencing use............................................................................................. 23 4 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 23 4.1 General approaches to educational video conferencing.............................................. 23 4.1.1 Familiarisation.......................................................................................................... 24 4.1.2 Substitution .............................................................................................................. 24 4.1.3 Enhancement........................................................................................................... 24 4.1.4 Adaptation................................................................................................................ 25 4.2 Refining the model: Contextual factors ........................................................................ 25 4.2.1 Structural factors...................................................................................................... 26 4.2.2 Organisational factors .............................................................................................. 27 4.2.3 Curricular factors...................................................................................................... 27 4.2.4 Technical factors...................................................................................................... 28 4.3 Summary: Ensuring an effective conference ............................................................... 28 4.3.1 Exemplars of good practice ..................................................................................... 29 Exemplar model 1: Substitution ............................................................................................ 29 Exemplar model 2: Enhancement......................................................................................... 32 Section 5....................................................................................................................................... 34 The Impact of video conferencing: Part 1 ................................................................................. 34 Enriching the learning experience............................................................................................. 34 5 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 34 5.1 Curriculum enhancement ............................................................................................. 34 5.2 Beyond the classroom walls......................................................................................... 35 5.3 Authentic learning experiences .................................................................................... 35 5.4 Access to experts ......................................................................................................... 36 5.5 Enhancing social and communication skills................................................................. 37 5.6 Student autonomy ........................................................................................................ 38 5.7 Raising cultural awareness .......................................................................................... 39 5.8 Summary ...................................................................................................................... 40 Section 6....................................................................................................................................... 42 The impact of video conferencing: Part 2 ................................................................................. 42 Attainment, motivation and behaviour ...................................................................................... 42 6 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 42 6.1 Learning and attainment .............................................................................................. 42 6.2 Motivation and attitudes ............................................................................................... 44 6.3 Behaviour ..................................................................................................................... 46 6.4 Sub-group differences .................................................................................................. 47 6.5 Teaching styles ............................................................................................................ 48 6.6 Phase differences......................................................................................................... 48 6.7 Summary ...................................................................................................................... 49 Section 7....................................................................................................................................... 50 Strategic issues ........................................................................................................................... 50 7 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 50 7.1 Integration .................................................................................................................... 50 7.2 Mainstreaming.............................................................................................................. 51 7.3 Sustainability ................................................................................................................ 52 May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 4 of 104
  • 5. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 8....................................................................................................................................... 54 Affordances and barriers to video conferencing use .............................................................. 54 8 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 54 8.1 Affordances .................................................................................................................. 54 8.1.1 Enthusiasts .............................................................................................................. 55 8.1.2 Usability of technology ............................................................................................. 55 8.1.3 Financial benefits ..................................................................................................... 55 8.1.4 Senior management support ................................................................................... 56 8.1.5 Identifying links ........................................................................................................ 56 8.1.6 Expert support for selection and installation of equipment ...................................... 57 8.1.7 Expert support for ‘functional’ matters and training ................................................. 57 8.1.8 Curriculum support................................................................................................... 58 8.1.9 Video conferencing ‘etiquette’.................................................................................. 58 8.2 Barriers......................................................................................................................... 58 8.2.1 Costs of set-up and operation.................................................................................. 59 8.2.2 Resistance ............................................................................................................... 59 8.2.3 'Key personnel' syndrome........................................................................................ 61 8.2.4 Technical barriers .................................................................................................... 61 8.2.5 Child protection ........................................................................................................ 61 8.3 Specific factors determining the effectiveness of a video conference ......................... 61 8.3.1 Planning and organisation ....................................................................................... 61 8.3.2 Influence of far-end personnel ................................................................................. 62 8.3.3 Negotiating roles: Teachers ..................................................................................... 64 8.3.4 Recognising the needs of students.......................................................................... 65 8.4 Summary ...................................................................................................................... 65 Section 9....................................................................................................................................... 66 The impact of technical factors.................................................................................................. 66 9 Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 66 9.1 Systems........................................................................................................................ 66 9.2 Connectivity and data speed........................................................................................ 66 9.3 Use of equipment ......................................................................................................... 67 9.4 Peripherals and additional technologies ...................................................................... 67 9.5 Technical failure ........................................................................................................... 69 9.6 Location of video conferencing equipment .................................................................. 69 9.7 Viewing systems........................................................................................................... 70 9.8 Summary ...................................................................................................................... 70 Glossary of terms and acronyms............................................................................................... 71 References ................................................................................................................................... 72 Appendix 1 ................................................................................................................................... 74 Appendix 2 ................................................................................................................................... 87 Appendix 3 ................................................................................................................................... 93 Appendix 4 ................................................................................................................................... 95 Appendix 5 ................................................................................................................................... 97 Appendix 6 ................................................................................................................................... 98 Appendix 7 ................................................................................................................................... 99 Appendix 8 ................................................................................................................................. 100 Appendix 9 ................................................................................................................................. 101 Appendix 10 ............................................................................................................................... 102 Appendix 11 ............................................................................................................................... 104 May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 5 of 104
  • 6. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 1 Executive summary 1 Background While there has been increased interest in the operation of video conferencing in mainstream schooling over the past few years, the amount of research into its use has been relatively sparse. Those studies which do exist indicate that a wide range of both social and educational benefits accrue from the use of video conferencing in the classroom. In addition to the benefits in terms of curriculum learning, studies point to the development of social and communication skills and increased cultural awareness. Through a consideration of the varying contexts in which video conferencing is employed in schools and the factors which are associated with its effective use, the present evaluation sets out to examine, in selected schools, the relationship between the use of video conferencing technologies and their impact (both actual and potential) on pupils' attainment and attitudes to school and on teachers' practices. 1.1 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com The DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/www.global-leap.com (hereafter referred to as the Project) began in October 2001 and has enabled interested schools to use video conferencing as a resource to enhance the curriculum. The Project covers each Key Stage across all areas of the curriculum and works with special schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units and other pupils who are otherwise isolated from mainstream education. The Project team is involved in the exploration and testing of a wide range of technology, guidance on the appropriate equipment, connectivity, equipment testing, the siting of facilities and room layout. The Project also loans DfES equipment to museums and galleries and works with education staff to present video conference lessons matched to National Curriculum specifications in a range of subjects areas including science, art, history and geography. These are arranged via the Global Leap website (www.global_leap.com) which represents the central video conferencing resource for teachers in the UK. This has in turn involved the regular support of the Project team in developing, improving and sustaining these programmes. 1.2 The evaluation 1.2.1 Aims The main aims of the evaluation were to: • identify factors which had the most significant impacts on teaching, learning and attainment • identify mediating factors underpinning ‘success’ and the effective use of the technology • to make explicit the lessons learned and offer recommendations applicable to the wider schools base on what practices should be promoted and avoided. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 6 of 104
  • 7. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 1.2.2 Evaluation framework The evaluation investigated three main levels of activity: Institutional level: • the purchase, deployment and management of video conferencing resources • the place of video conferencing within overall ICT development planning and policy Subject level: • the nature and quality of teaching • the nature and quality of learning • teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil relationships Individual level: • the perceptions of individual teachers and learners on the relationship between video conferencing and academic attainment • the perceptions of individual teachers of the strengths, weaknesses and implications of the use of video conferencing in different contexts • the perceptions of pupils of the impact of using video conferencing in formal learning situations on their understanding and engagement with learning • where relevant, the perceptions of pupils of the impact of using video conferencing in informal (eg, ‘off-/non-task’) interactions on their understanding and engagement with learning. 1.2.3 Sample and methods Sample Twenty-eight schools were identified by the Project Team, drawn from a wide geographical area, across all age phases and included special schools and learning centres. The schools were roughly divided into three groups according to their length of experience with video conferencing; Established, Intermediate and Entrance level. Four subjects – English, geography, history and modern foreign languages - were identified as representing the curriculum areas most commonly associated with video conferencing use in the selected schools. Research strategy The main research strategy was composed of four inter-related strands: • Strand 1: Review of the research literature on video conferencing. • Strand 2: Baseline survey and ‘familiarisation visit’ to all schools. The visits involved interviews with key personnel, observations of video conferencing activity and opportunistic interviews with students who had used video conferencing. • Strand 3: Case study work with twelve of the schools involved. This involved further visits which involved observation of video conferences and pre- and post-conference teacher and pupil interviews. Interviews with ‘far-end’ users were also conducted where feasible. • Strand 4: Collection of electronic data from the non-case-study schools including calendars of the video conferencing events and email ‘diaries’ from teachers and pupils. Lead teachers in the case study schools were also targeted in a telephone ‘exit interview’ at the end of the evaluation. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 7 of 104
  • 8. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 1.3 Main findings 1.3.1 Baseline survey • The types and make of video conferencing equipment in schools are wide, with ISDN connection being the most common form of connectivity. • A minority of the schools had dedicated suites for video conferencing, with most having stand-alone mobile systems. • The school with the longest experience of video conferencing reported an average of four conferences per week. • Reported usage covered a variety of modes of use with the most popular being outside experts and small group to small group work. 1.3.2 Models of video conferencing use • Four broad categories of video conferencing use can be identified: Familiarisation, Substitution, Enhancement and Adaptation. • Enhancement or value-added activities were the most common type of video conferencing in the case study schools. • Contextual factors, such as structural, organisational, curricular and technical aspects, shape the patterns of usage of video conferencing. • A distinction should be made between a successful conference (where everything goes to plan) and an effective one (where learning objectives are met). 1.3.3 The impact of video conferencing • While teachers were generally unable to offer statistical evidence for performance gains, their judgements were that video conferencing impacted upon achievement positively. • Teachers and students acknowledged powerful learning effects as a consequence of a video conferencing session. • Video conferencing is, in the main, highly motivating to students and improvements in pupil behaviour occur during video conferencing sessions. • Teachers had yet to explore the potential of video conferencing and how it might affect the way that they taught. • Video conferencing can support a shift to learner autonomy • Students can access other cultures, both unfamiliar and those of their home communities, enabling links and cultural identity to be formed and maintained • Video conferencing can enable ‘authentic’ experience – students hear things from ‘the horse’s mouth’ and can respond immediately with their own questions • A ‘real’ audience means students take their participation seriously May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 8 of 104
  • 9. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 1.3.4 Strategic issues • The integration of video conferencing into programmes of study was at an early stage, but was seen by management as essential for impacting on achievement. • Some subjects seemed more amenable to a sustained use of video conferencing, but all subjects could benefit. • The spread of video conferencing into all curriculum areas needed a strong steer from school development policies. • The financial implications of a widespread use of video conferencing were large. • Guidance was needed for schools on the optimum equipment at affordable prices. • A national policy on video conferencing was needed to push forward the benefits. 1.3.5 Affordances and barriers to video conferencing use • Most of the teachers found video conferencing technology to be relatively simple and accessible. • Compared to alternative means of communicating with others, video conferencing offered an economical way of maintaining external links. • Support from senior staff was seen as essential for successful implementation. • Feelings of self-consciousness by staff and students can quickly be overcome through careful briefing and preparation for video conferencing. • Continuity of personnel involved is an important factor in maintaining developments in video conferencing. • While most systems were very robust, technical support is important in improving the quality of the experience. 1.3.6 The impact of technical factors • The degree of sophistication of the video conferencing systems used should matched to the learning objectives of a given educational activity • Video conferencing technologies were easy to learn and operate for most teachers • Audio and sound quality were important for the video conferencing experience, but relatively few difficulties were encountered with these factors • While relatively little use was made of peripheral technologies, teachers recognised the value they could bring to the experience • Mobile or fixed facilities each had their particular advantages and disadvantages, with the location of the ISDN line being a critical factor 1.4 Conclusions and recommendations 1.4.1 Conclusions The study has provided clear evidence of the educational potential of video conferencing, facilitating a broad range of personal, social and academic benefits for pupils. The study also May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 9 of 104
  • 10. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project identified a number of factors which are associated with its effective use. These are brought together in a ‘fitness for purpose’ framework designed to enable teachers and policy makers (and indeed other researchers) to conceptualise the way in which video conferencing might be deployed within a given curricular context. 1.4.2 Recommendations National level • Given the broad range of educational benefits of video conferencing demonstrated in this evaluation, the DfES should consider developing a national policy for the spread of video conferencing facilities in schools and colleges. This would include, inter alia: − The establishment and dissemination of ideas and models of good practice through a variety of strategies (eg, training initiatives, seminars/conferences, publications, practitioner/school groups, online discussion forums and so on) − A central directory service for contacts with experts, national institutions (museums, government, business, etc) and with interested schools in the UK and abroad. − The development of mechanisms for funding the provision of high quality video conferencing equipment and the connections to schools. This may be best achieved as a staged process, beginning with those schools which demonstrate a clear need/interest. • The commissioning of further research into the educational potential of video conferencing in schools. The foci of research projects might include: − The examination of effective practice in schools where there is a sustained and deep use of video conferencing for the delivery of a curriculum programme to establish the specific factors contributing to raised academic attainment. The use of innovative instruments to measure such impact is likely to be required. We would point to the report, recently commissioned by Becta (Stevenson, 2003), represents a potential starting point for this. The study explores new approaches to the measurement of the ICT/attainment relationship. − The commissioning of a longer-term strategy for research into video conferencing to establish whether the motivational, behavioural and learning gains noted are sustained in the medium term. Local level • LEAs should be geared to recommend or provide independent advice and support to schools concerning purchase and installation of appropriate equipment. Standardised system requirements could be explored by LEAs to enable schools to connect more easily with one another. • That, in order to facilitate this, appropriate support and/or professional development is made available to those LEAs which are relatively inexperienced in this area. This may include the setting up of inter-authority support networks. School level • That video conferencing should be embedded into school planning. A teaching and learning focus in the school plan should demonstrate to other staff, parents and pupils precisely where and how video conferencing is being used to enhance learning. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 10 of 104
  • 11. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project • Senior management in schools introducing video conferencing should demonstrate strong support to give credibility of the medium to other staff and with parents. • Schools need to provide a basic level of training to increase confidence as well as demonstrate good practice and potential of video conferencing. Much of the training focuses on how to use equipment and mediate a conference. These practical issues should be augmented with a focus on teaching and learning issues. • To alleviate potential parental resistance, they need to be given a clear explanation of the video conferencing experience before their children engage in it. • Teachers need to be aware of potential resistance to video conferencing from pupils and have to be able to provide an environment and preparation that is encouraging and sensitive to this. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 11 of 104
  • 12. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 2 Introduction 2 Background: Research on educational uses of video conferencing While there has been increased interest in video conferencing in mainstream schooling over the past few years, research into its use has been relatively sparse, with most attention given to data focussed on its use in commerce and higher education (see the revised literature review associated with this evaluation [Appendix 1]). The use of video conferencing as an educational tool in a school context has been briefly explored in a number of recent research studies however. Two thirds of the Education Departments’ Superhighways Initiative projects (Scrimshaw 1997), for example, involved some element of video conferencing, with one project focussing exclusively on its use. The uses observed in these various projects included remote tutoring of pupils in rural areas (Hall et al., 1997), the provision of professional development opportunities for teachers (McFarlane et al., 1997), exchanges between pupils in different locations within the UK in a range of subjects (Passey et al., 1997), communication between Y6 and Y7 pupils to facilitate smoother transition primary/secondary transfer (Galton et al, 1997, Comber and Hargreaves, 1997), and one-to-one tuition for students with special educational needs, including the ‘gifted and talented’ (Thorpe, 1998). Despite some technical and organisational barriers, a wide range of both social and educational benefits was shown to accrue from the use of video conferencing in these various settings. Other studies in the UK have confirmed and clarified these general findings, as well as documenting the potential of video conferencing for particular subject areas. For example Williams (1999), reports on a number of projects involving communication between schools in the UK and Japan, which included collaborative dramatic and musical performances and scientific experiments. Language learning has been identified by a number of writers as a curriculum area which benefits well from video conferencing exchanges, where it enables real-time, authentic-language communication between students in different countries (Wright and Whitehead, 1998; Butler and Fawkes, 1999). In addition to the benefits in terms of curriculum learning, studies such as these also point to the development of social and communication skills and increased cultural awareness. The well-documented collaborative potential of ICT (see for example Mercer, 1996) is also a commonly cited feature of video conferencing exchanges between pupils. These findings are echoed in two current UK initiatives that focus on the use of video conferencing in schools. The Motivate project (Gage 2001; Gage et al., 2002), has shown that video conferencing can be used to enrich mathematics lessons, providing students with a broader conceptual understanding of mathematics and how it is utilised in ‘real life’ contexts. The success of the Global Leap project (Griffith, 2001), which began as a 16 hour marathon video conferencing exchange between schools in 13 different nations, has led to a broadening of the DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project /www.global-leap.com through DfES funding to include a range of subjects and the incorporation of external educationally-focussed national and international agencies, such as museums and galleries. Despite these developments, video conferencing is still regarded as new and remains a relatively underused technology in schools, often pursued by a few enthusiasts and with its educational potential across a wider curriculum hardly explored. This evaluation, commissioned by the DfES, redresses this paucity of research by exploring, in selected schools, the relationship between the use of video conferencing technologies and their impact (both actual and potential) on pupils' attitudes to and attainment in school, and on teachers' practices. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 12 of 104
  • 13. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 2.1 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com 2.1.1 Context The DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/global-leap.com (hereafter referred to as the Project) was launched at a time of considerable change and development in ICT in schools. An increasing emphasis on the importance of integrating ICT into classroom practice has been promoted through a range of government initiatives that has seen the level and sophistication of ICT provision increase dramatically. National training programmes for teachers, and more recently for headteachers, have raised professional standards in teaching with ICT and in its strategic leadership. The advent of regional Broadband Consortia (RBCs) which work to procure internet services, broadband infrastructure and content for LEAs and schools, represents an important development in this process and has particular significance for video conferencing. As will become evident in this report, while many of the evaluation schools had Broadband 1 connectivity for internet access, the majority relied on ISDN (of varying levels) for video conferencing activities. In some areas of the country, however, broadband is the main means of video conferencing transmission, as it is in much of Higher Education and many commercial organisations. As RBCs further develop, broadband conferencing is likely to become the norm rather than the exception. The evaluation was thus conducted at a particular point in the history of ICT development, with a particular group of schools, using particular technologies. For this reason, this report focuses mainly on the potential of video conferencing to enhance teaching, learning and attainment, taking account of technological factors where those are deemed to have affected learning outcomes. 2.1.2 The project Since October 2001, the Project has enabled interested schools to use video conferencing as a resource to enhance the curriculum. The Project team offers advice and support to schools seeking to develop video conferencing in the curriculum, finds video conferencing partners, arranges interactive video conferences and sustains a nationwide network of skilled practitioners. The Project covers each Key Stage across all areas of the curriculum as well as working with special schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units and other pupils who are otherwise isolated from mainstream education. 2.1.3 Educational activities The Project team, which works with schools across the UK, has helped to develop a network of skilled practitioners who are available to support schools. An important part of this process is to lend DfES equipment to museums and galleries and to work with education staff to present live interactive video conference lessons matched to National Curriculum specifications in a range of subjects areas including science, art, history and geography. In excess of 50 such sessions per month are available directly to classrooms from experts working in UK museums, galleries and other public organisations with an educational remit. These lessons - provided free of charge to the schools - are arranged via the Global Leap website (www.global_leap.com) which represents the central video conferencing resource for teachers in the UK. The resource enables schools to be involved in a range of curriculum activities using video conferencing. These include pupils improving their language skills through interaction with native speakers (MFL), learning about the lives and experiences of their peer groups in other cultures (citizenship) and exchanging information about local environments or history (humanities). Because video conferencing is a verbal as well as visual medium, it also lends itself to the development of both social and communication skills. 1 A glossary of terms can be found at the end of this report. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 13 of 104
  • 14. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 2.1.4 Support Prior to the Project, many of the staff in the museums and galleries had little prior experience of video conferencing (and in some cases of working with schools) and worked to develop their skills in these areas. A number of the pilot programmes that emerged from this process were developed in parallel with the schools' activities and curriculum interests. Enabling these programmes to be available to schools has involved a range of new developments for many of these institutions, including the provision of internal training programmes, arranging session timetables, identifying appropriate space and systems for effective communication with schools to plan and set up video conferencing sessions. This has in turn involved the regular support of the Project team in developing, improving and sustaining these programmes. The Project team was also involved in the exploration and testing of the wide range of technology that is available for video conferencing to assess its suitability and ease of use in the classroom. This is linked to an important part of the service available to school, that is guidance on the appropriate equipment, connectivity, equipment testing, the siting of facilities, room layout and so on. Once schools have set up their equipment, dedicated sessions on getting started with video conferencing (My First Video conference) are available via the project. A comprehensive guide to good practice produced by the team and published by DfES (Arnold et al., 2004) is available from the Global Leap website, www.global-leap.com. 2.2 The evaluation 2.2.1 Aims of the evaluation The DfES has a longer term aim of spreading good practice in the use of video conferencing in delivering the curriculum. To this end, it established the Project in schools in the UK. The main aims of the evaluation of the project’s work were defined by the DfES as being: • to highlight the factors perceived to have had the most significant impacts on teaching and learning with a specific focus on the potential of video conferencing to raise academic attainment • to identify the factors that contributed to any such outcomes • to identify what are the mediating factors underpinning ‘success’ and effective use of the technology • to make explicit the lessons learned, offering recommendations applicable to the wider schools base surrounding what practices should be promoted and avoided. 2.2.2 Evaluation framework To understand the impact of video conferencing in schools, the evaluation investigated three main levels of activity: Institutional level: • the purchase, deployment and management of video conferencing resources • the place of video conferencing within overall ICT development planning and policy Subject level: • the nature and quality of teaching • the nature and quality of learning • teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil relationships May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 14 of 104
  • 15. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Individual level: • the perceptions of individual teachers and learners on the relationship between video conferencing and academic attainment • the perceptions of individual teachers of the strengths, weaknesses and implications of the use of video conferencing in different contexts • the perceptions of pupils of the impact of using video conferencing in formal learning situations on their understanding and engagement with learning • where relevant, the perceptions of pupils of the impact of using video conferencing in informal (eg, ‘off-/non-task’ interactions) on their understanding and engagement with learning. More specifically these levels were explored with reference to the following: Teachers’ and pupils’: • perceptions of the impact of the use of video conferencing on student attainment • understanding of the value of using video conferencing in terms of wider benefits than attainment • definitions/understanding of the concept of attainment Teachers': • attitudes towards and definitions of the effectiveness of ICT in educational contexts with specific reference to video conferencing • perceptions of the impact of video conferencing on factors such as teaching style, classroom organisation and the planning of learning activities Pupils’: • perceptions of the relative impact of video conferencing on their learning and achievement • attitudes towards the use of video conferencing in subject lessons Within the learning context • the role of the teacher and the range and nature of teaching styles deployed when using video conferencing and how these differ from teaching in non video conferencing contexts • the role of the pupil and the range and nature of learning activities engaged in when using video conferencing and how these differ from learning in non video conferencing contexts. • the range and nature of pupil interactions (both within and between participating pupils and groups of pupils) • the varying impact (where relevant) of one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to- many personal exchanges (eg, pupil-pupil, pupil-teacher, teacher-teacher) • the varying impact (where relevant) of bilateral and multilateral institutional exchanges. • the impact of collaboration (peer-peer and teacher-pupil) around and through video conferencing systems on styles of learning Organisational/technical factors This concerned issues relating to: • different systems and compatibility between systems • data speed/connectivity • classroom organisation, including timetabling for synchronous sessions • technical support and maintenance • the location of and access to video conferencing equipment. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 15 of 104
  • 16. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 2.3 Sample and methods 2 The main research strategy was composed of four inter-related strands. In Strand 1, a survey of the research literature on video conferencing and interviews with experts, including technical, educational and external providers of video conference activities, were conducted. The initial literature review was submitted to DfES in the early stages of the evaluation (Lawson et al 2003). In Strand 2, the focus of activity was schools or colleges 3 who were engaged in some form of video conferencing, as identified to the team by the DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project Board (hereafter referred to as the Board). Twenty-eight schools were initially involved, and although there was some attrition and replacement over the course of the year-long project, a final sample of 28 schools was achieved. Central to the selection of the schools was a desire to reflect a range of video conferencing experience both in general terms and in specific curriculum areas. Four subjects - geography, history, English and modern foreign languages - were identified as representing the curriculum areas most commonly associated with video conferencing use in the DfES Project schools. The schools were drawn from a wide geographical area, across all age phases and included special schools and learning centres. The schools were roughly divided into three groups according to their length of experience with video conferencing. Just under a third (8) had engaged in video conferencing activity for over a year (Established level user), a third (9) for about a year (Intermediate level user) and more than a third (11) were 'Greenfield' sites, where they had just recently been given video conferencing equipment (Entrance level user). Baseline data were collected from the participating schools (see Section 3 for a summary of these data) and each school received a familiarisation visit from a research team member. During this visit, key personnel - the Principal, the lead teacher (the person mainly responsible for video conferencing activities in the school) and teacher-users (teachers who use video conferencing for curriculum purposes) - were interviewed using semi-structured schedules. Some initial observations of actual video conferences were made, as well as opportunistic interviews or discussions with students who had used video conferencing. These schools also contributed to 'exit' interviews with the lead teacher conducted by telephone at the end of the evaluation. Strand 3 involved more intensive work with twelve of the 28 schools involved. These case study schools were chosen, in consultation with the DfES Video conferencing Project Board, 4 to represent a range of experience, age groups and the four subject areas . Visits were made to the eleven of the twelve case study schools (with one school not being able to organise a suitable occasion) 5. In these visits, a video conference was observed using a systematic schedule developed for this purpose and parts of the conference itself were recorded on video by a team member. At the request of the team, the video conference was not specifically prepared for the visit, but was part of the normal curriculum for that class. Pre- and post-conference interviews were held with the teacher of the class to explore the learning objectives associated with the session and whether they had been achieved. Post-session group interviews were also held with the pupils themselves. With secondary pupils this followed a focus-group format. The approach with primary pupils was that of a ‘guided dialogue’ in which participants initially completed a short writing frame activity around 2 All instruments used in the evaluation are presented in Appendix X 3 For the sake of simplicity, the term ‘school’ is used throughout the report 4 In the light of information gathered during the familiarisation visits, and in consultation with the Board, the subjects of history and geography were combined as ‘humanities’ with a fourth subject ‘citizenship/global dimension’ included. 5 Although detailed data, including an observation of a video conference and interview with pupils, were collected during the familiarisation visit to this school. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 16 of 104
  • 17. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project the theme of video conferencing as a means of prompting discussion. In addition to these scheduled data-collection exercises, team members maintained contact with case study schools, especially those with interesting or innovative uses of the technology. Some interviews with ‘far-end’ users were also conducted where possible. Strand 4 involved the collection of electronic data from the non-case-study schools. These included calendars of the video conferencing events in schools over the year of the evaluation, and email ‘diaries’ from both teachers and pupils commenting on their experiences of and attitudes towards video conferencing. Lead teachers in the case study schools were also targeted in a telephone ‘exit interview’ at the end of the evaluation (these were also extended to include the remaining 16 schools in the sample). A limited number of telephone interviews were also conducted with ‘far-end’ providers in galleries and museums, in addition to opportunistic interviews with remote tutors during observational visits. In the data collection aspects of the project, care was taken to pay due regard to issues of confidentiality and child protection. Analysis of interview data was conducted using NUDIST software. 2.4 The research team The study represented a collaboration between researchers at the School of Education, University of Leicester, and the Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge. The team members were: University of Leicester Dr Chris Comber Research director Dr Tony Lawson Research director Dr Tracey Allen Chief research officer Phil Hingley Research officer Julie Boggon Research officer University of Cambridge Jenny Gage Researcher Adrian Cullum-Hanshaw Technical consultant 2.5 The DfES video conferencing in the classroom project/www.global-leap.com team The Project team included: Mike Griffith Project Manager and DfES Consultant Tim Arnold Adviser, Devon Curriculum Services Steve Cayley Adviser, Devon Curriculum Services Mary Wormington The International Education Office, Gloucester Penny Krucker The International Education Office, Gloucester Jason Tarbarth Teacher, Support to schools May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 17 of 104
  • 18. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 3 Baseline survey: Sample characteristics Key findings of this section • The types and make of video conferencing equipment in schools are wide, with ISDN connection being the most common form of connectivity. • A minority of the schools had dedicated suites for video conferencing, with most having stand-alone mobile systems. • The school with the longest experience of video conferencing reported an average of four conferences per week. • Reported usage covered a variety of modes of use with the most popular being outside experts and small group to small group work. 3 Introduction This section briefly outlines the situation of the sample schools in February 2003, at the start of the evaluation. A questionnaire (Appendix 1) was sent as an email attachment to the lead teacher in each of the 28 participating schools. All but two responded (in most cases by returning the completed questionnaire by email), a response rate of 89% which gives a base figure of 26. In some, where sections of the questionnaire were incomplete or incorrectly filled in, further data were collected from schools where possible. As participants in the DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/www.global- leap.com, all of the schools and colleges selected to take part in the evaluation had used video conferencing at some level. As the schools were deliberately chosen to represent a range of experience, from relative beginners to the much more experienced, this was naturally reflected in the data received in this survey. The participating schools represented a very broad range of size, type and location. While we do not claim this by any means to be a representative sample of schools in England (further information relating to sample selection can be found in Section 2) it nevertheless reflected a very diverse set of learning contexts into which video conferencing was introduced. 3.1 Geographical spread Geographically these schools were widely spread from Devon to Cumbria. The type of school ranged from small county primary through to large inner-city colleges. The sample also included specialist teaching schools and those with a large proportion of students with special educational needs and a children’s hospital, that is a specialist hospital school with a fluctuating number and type of pupils. Learners' ages across the sample ranged from 2 years to adult. Three of the schools were single sex (in each case girls-only) institutions. 3.2 Number of teachers and pupils The mean number of FTE staff in the secondary schools was 71, ranging from 26 (160 pupils on roll) to 123 (1500). For primary schools in the sample the equivalent figures were an average of 10 FTE staff per school, ranging from a small rural primary school with just two teachers and 22 pupils, to an urban school with 21 FTE teachers and around 500 pupils. Special (and some specialist) schools varied widely in both teacher and pupil numbers as well as the age range of the students. For example one sports college (also a special school) had 80 teachers for 240 students who ranged from pre-school (2 years) to 19. A City Learning Centre with learners from 7-14 years, on the other hand, had over 2000 students. The lowest May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 18 of 104
  • 19. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project number of learners in a school was 19 in a rural Primary School and the highest was 4,500 in a City Learning Centre whose intake included learners from 5 years old to adults. 3.3 Pupil characteristics The percentage of students for whom English was not their first language ranged from 0% in several schools to as high as 76%. The number of ethnic groups represented (where stated) ranged from 1 to 33. The number of learners on the SEN register ranged from 0 to 260 and those receiving free school meals from 0 to 80%. 3.4 Level and distribution of ICT resources As might be expected, the level of ICT resources varied widely from school to school. On average, secondary schools had around 150 computers (just under 20% of which were laptops) while primary schools had an average of 30 per school (less than 1% of which were laptops). The PC:Pupil ratio in secondary schools ranged from 1 PC per 1.5 pupils to 1:14, although there was no clear relationship between school size and level of provision. Generally speaking, primary schools tended to be reasonably well provided, with equivalent ratios in the 1:5 (or fewer) range for several of them. With one exception, the special schools - especially those which were 'all through' with large intakes – tended to have lower levels of provision for their students. In terms of the availability of computers for staff, secondary schools had on average around 60 PCs available for staff compared with 6 for primary schools. 3.5 Connectivity Twelve schools described their Internet connectivity as Broadband. While only 8 of these gave details of optimum speed, this ranged from 300Kbps (reflecting perhaps a notion of 'Broadband' currently being promoted by commercial providers to the domestic market) to 100Mbps reported by two schools. 5 schools had 2Mbps connections. Local or regional grids for learning (GfL) were the Internet providers for 65% of the sample. The remaining schools had preferential (education-rate) arrangements with commercial providers. A small number of schools used more that one provider, generally a combination of the LEA and private services. A rather different pattern emerged for video conferencing transmission. Of those schools that provided this information, ISDN2 was used by eighteen of the schools, the majority of which were primary, with three using ISDN4 and two ISDN6. Eight of these schools also used Broadband, with just three schools – all secondary - using this exclusively. 3.6 Video conferencing equipment 3.6.1 Type of equipment While the general levels of ICT provision give some indication of the integration of technology in the schools, the major focus of interest for this evaluation was the nature and quantity of video conferencing equipment. Ten of the schools were in receipt of loaned equipment as part of the DfES project. Sixteen had owned their video conferencing facilities outright, with one school having both. The type and make of equipment varied from school to school, with some using more than one type. The most commonly used (in order of popularity) were: • Polycom • Picture Tel May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 19 of 104
  • 20. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project • Tandberg • Vcon • RSI Mediapro • LeadTek videophone • Intel Proshare • MetaEyeprovu ISDN videophone 3.6.2 Siting of video conferencing equipment Around a third of the schools had an area of some sort in which video conferencing equipment was permanently sited. The computer suite was the most common location, with reported capacity ranging from twenty-five to fifty pupils/students. In some schools the equipment was semi-permanently sited in a location such as a classroom where most of the video conferencing activity took place. The remainder had stand-alone systems, most of which were mobile, although those schools reliant on ISDN connection were generally more restricted in this respect. 3.7 Viewing video conferences Schools used a variety of equipment to view the video conferences, with a number having access to more than one facility. The majority of those that responded to this question used a TV monitor (16:25), with the next most common systems being some form of interactive whiteboard (12) or projection screen (8). While 6 schools used a standard PC monitor, none relied on this as their sole means of viewing a conference. 3.8 Ancillary equipment and software A range of software and hardware was said to be available for use in conjunction with video 6 conferencing equipment. This included interactive whiteboards (17 schools), presentation software (7), internet-based meeting software (6) and document camera/visualiser (1). 3.9 Patterns of use 3.9.1 Video conferencing experience Given that the sample of schools deliberately reflected three broad levels of video conferencing experience (established, intermediate, entrance), it was not surprising to find a large gap between the most and least experienced users. The mean length of experience was 1 Year 3 months. The schools with the longest involvement in video conferencing were a secondary school with over five years experience and a special school which had used it for four years. Several schools – the ‘entrance level’ sites - had only very recently acquired their equipment. 3.9.2 Frequency of use In terms of frequency of use, all who supplied data for this question had used their video conferencing equipment in the previous term, 17 of which had used it within the previous week. The most experienced school was also amongst the most regular users (on average at least once per week), although the most frequent user was a school of some three years experience, which reported an average of four conferences per week. Nevertheless, some schools which had only recently begun experimenting with the technology were already frequent users. This is likely to have reflected an early 'burst of activity' in some instances, however, so that the most common pattern of use (about half of the schools) was around once per term. At the time of the survey, just one school said that their equipment was used 'only occasionally'. 6 The extent to which this was used with any regularity is explored later in the report. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 20 of 104
  • 21. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 3.10 Age range A wide range of year groups was reported to be involved in video conferencing, from Year 2 through to adult. Two all-through special school involved all ages (7-19 and 5-16 years respectively), with three primary schools also reporting use with all year groups. The remainder ranged from activity with just a single year group (2 primary, 2 secondary schools) to three or four year groups. One school also mentioned the use of video conferencing for staff. 3.11 Nature of remote sites The location of remote sites fell into four broad levels of activity. These were: • Level 1: schools and/or organisations within a relatively small geographical area (eg, partner/feeder schools, other schools in the same LEA, other local institutions) • Level 2: Level 1 plus schools and/or organisations (such as galleries and museums) further afield but within the UK • Level 3: Levels 1&2 plus schools and/or organisations within continental Europe • Level 4: Levels 1-3 plus schools and/or organisations in the rest of the world. 3.11.1 UK links Many of the conferences in which the schools were engaged within the UK were either with other UK schools or with external agencies. The latter included commercial providers and Further/Higher Education Institutions, in some cases offering purpose-designed courses, in others ‘by arrangement’ expert seminars. In addition to these organisations were a number of public institutions such as galleries and museums that have an educational remit, offering a variety of curriculum-focussed sessions, which generally operated via a ‘booking’ system. 3.11.2 International links A similar set of opportunities existed with international links, so that the evaluation schools were in contact with others schools and remote experts in various parts of the world. Those listed on the survey included: • Australia • Afghanistan • Bulgaria • China • Finland • Germany • Greece • Holland • India • Italy • Israel • Jamaica • Poland • Singapore • South Africa • Turkey • USA May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 21 of 104
  • 22. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 3.12 Modes of use 3.12.1 Type of use Video conferencing was being used in a variety of modes, from complete classes communicating with one another, to contact with individual pupils. In summary, the number of schools using each mode was as follows: Small group to small group 15 Outside experts brought to the pupils 15 Single class to single class 13 Multipoint video conferencing 11 Remote teaching of one or more groups 10 Large group to large group 9 Shared teaching of one or more groups 6 Individual pupil contact 5 Management meetings 4 In-service training 3 Job interviews 3 3.12.2 Subject areas covered Within the broader DfES project, the most frequent usage of video conferencing occurred in four curriculum areas (geography, history, modern foreign languages and English), which served as an initial sampling criterion 7. Video conferencing activity was of course not restricted to these areas. Within the six months prior to the survey this had included almost every aspect of the curriculum, as the list below indicates 8: • Art • Basic skills • Citizenship • Drama • English • Geography • History • Home economics • ICT • International dimension • Literacy • Mathematics • Modern languages • Music • Project work • Science • Spanish. Video conferencing had also been used for staff training, including internally provided INSET, as well as for continuing professional development (CPD) and for contact with PGCE students. Other uses (reported by individual schools in each case) included; testing (ie, pupil assessment), commercial links, demonstrations to parents, teacher to teacher and staff planning meetings, as well as for planning video conferences themselves. 7 Revised in the light of familiarisation visits - see details of sample selection in the Methods section 8 Note that this list is derived from survey returns reporting activity within the previous 6 months., not activity across the Project altogether. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 22 of 104
  • 23. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 4 Models of video conferencing use Key findings of this section • Four broad categories of video conferencing can be identified: familiarisation, substitution, enhancement and adaptation. • Enhancement or value-added activities were most common type of video conferencing in the case study schools. • Contextual factors, such as structural, organisational, curricular and technical aspects, shape the patterns of usage of video conferencing. • A distinction should be made between a successful conference (where everything goes to plan) and an effective one (where learning objectives are met). 4 Introduction The decision to incorporate video conferencing into a learning activity involves the careful consideration of a variety of interacting factors. Although thorough lesson planning is of course an important process for all teaching, video conferencing introduces additional layers of complexity, not only because of the use of technology, but also because it brings ‘remote others’ into the equation. Teachers considering the use of video conferencing need to be aware, therefore, that it is likely to involve a higher degree of preparation than a ‘regular’ lesson. Drawing on the evidence collected in the evaluation, this Section sets out to model the use of video conferencing practice in terms of general approaches and various contextual factors. It is important to note that while some brief examples are given in this Section by way of illuminating this framework, more detailed illustrative data are presented in later Sections of the report. 4.1 General approaches to educational video conferencing Attempts to model video conferencing usage in the classroom might have a number of different ‘starting points’, which themselves reflect not only the variety of ways in which teachers encounter and begin to use the technology, but also the rationale for its introduction into the learning context. In this latter regard, four broad categories of video conferencing usage may be identified initially. These are respectively: • Familiarisation: representing the ‘first steps’ in the video conferencing process • Substitution: the replacement of traditional curriculum delivery by video conferencing • Enhancement: the most common usage, where the use of video conferencing is an integral part of a traditionally delivered approach • Adaptation: where teachers have begun to explore the potential of the technology to go beyond traditional pedagogies. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 23 of 104
  • 24. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Each of these categories is now described in turn. 4.1.1 Familiarisation All of the schools received the support available through the Project. This provided teachers with access to basic training in the use of video conferencing equipment, and guidance about factors which make for a successful conference, including ‘tele-presence skills’ (the video conferencing equivalent of ‘netiquette’). With or without such training, the first video conferencing activity of most teachers involved a process of familiarising themselves (and their students) with the technology, often in a ‘live’ exchange with another school or other remote partner. This generally involved the exploratory use of the technology within a relatively weak curricular framework. This was evident in many initial experiences of video conferencing, which were essentially ‘trials’ of both the technology and the experience of remote interaction. We encountered numerous such interactions, which often involved relatively simple exchanges about pupils’ interests, school-related activities, the weather, local geography, features of the local community and so on. In a few instances, video conferencing activity appeared to be rather ‘fixed’ at this level of use, while some schools opted to launch straight into curriculum activity at the first interchange. In the great majority of cases, however, this approach represented an intentional and considered process, a first step towards a more ‘embedded’ approach. 4.1.2 Substitution For some schools (or individual teachers) the recognition or belief that video conferencing could provide the solution to a particular educational ‘problem’ was the catalyst for introducing video conferencing into a learning activity. In this model of use, the introduction of video conferencing enabled schools or teachers to engage in activities that would otherwise be organisationally difficult and/or prohibitively expensive. An example here was a 6th Form wishing to offer a subject for which there is only modest demand or the need to bring in peripatetic teachers for minority subjects. A related problem can occur with more ‘mainstream’ subjects where the 6th Form is itself relatively small. Some schools solved this kind of problem by arranging for the course to be delivered remotely via video conferencing by specialist providers, or through collaboration with other local schools in the same situation. 4.1.3 Enhancement This approach was where video conferencing was seen as something which could enhance an existing curricular activity, a tool which could ‘add value’ to pupils’ learning experience. The enhancement approach to video conferencing represented by far the most common use of the technology in this evaluation. The examples below therefore represent just a fraction of the tremendous range of activities and projects that we encountered, further descriptions of which are given throughout the report. Examples of this kind of use included; • Class-to-class exchanges (such as a modern foreign language class linking with a same-age group in Germany, France and so on) • Access to remote expertise (eg, ‘guest speakers’ from a University or business organisation; links to the educational services of museums and galleries; curriculum activities devised and co-ordinated by subject specialists) May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 24 of 104
  • 25. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project • Links between local schools (eg, social and academic activities related to secondary school induction procedures; modern foreign language conversation sessions for KS2 children) • Inter-school collaborative enterprises (eg, joint problem-solving exercises; exchanges of local environmental, geographical or historical data; learning about one another’s cultural practices). 4.1.4 Adaptation A fourth approach was to explore the potential of video conferencing for developing new and innovative practices, that is to say, experimenting with the technology to develop learning activities that had hitherto been difficult or impossible to organise. This differs from the ‘Substitution’ approach in that the focus was on a novel model of learning, rather than a novel way of delivering a traditional pedagogy. Examples of this kind of use were, if not commonly encountered, certainly not rare events. Moreover, compared to other forms of ICT which have been in schools for a much longer period (and which are still far from being integrated into the curriculum in many schools), even relative newcomers to video conferencing appeared to be much more willing to attempt – or at least consider – an explorative approach. Again, examples of this approach are given later in the report. 4.2 Refining the model: Contextual factors The above section represents a set of very generalised descriptions of the ways in which teachers were using (or were planning to use) video conferencing. Whether these approaches are considered as stages in a developmental model, or as a set of self-contained strategies, each incorporates a variety of factors which are themselves determined by the specific learning objectives of a given lesson or series of lessons. These include: Structural factors • Pattern of interaction (one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many) • Mode of interaction (eg, receiving information, providing information, information exchange) Organisational factors • Degree of pre-conference organisation and planning • Role of teacher(s)/other adults participating in the conference • Role of pupils participating in the conference • Number of pupils participating in the conference Curricular factors • Place of the conference within the subject curriculum • Place of the conference within the lesson or series of lessons Technical factors • Transmission type/speed • Involvement of other technologies (for communication eg, email, internet) demonstration (eg, whiteboard, presentation software, document camera) interchange (eg, application sharing and so on) • Visual/auditory quality • Reliability/robustness of the technology/connectivity Each of these factors in now considered in turn: May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 25 of 104
  • 26. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 4.2.1 Structural factors Pattern of interaction This relates to the number of people involved in the conference at each site. A number of the conferences that took place in the evaluation schools were one-to-one communication. Several of these examples were between teachers at different sites for the purposes of planning and of organising a conference. Such exchanges, often supplemented by telephone contact and/or email communications (which also facilitated the exchange of learning materials) were regarded as a key component of pre-conference preparation. One of the most common patterns of interaction was one-to-many, that is where one person 9 addressed a group of pupils at another site (or sites) . An example of this was the remote tutoring of a child with special educational needs, averting the need for travel for specialised support. This approach was also characteristic of many of the conferences arranged through the Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/www.global-leap.com. In parallel with schools-based support, the Project team was developing pilot programmes in a range of museums, galleries and other public organisations with an educational remit to develop activities to support each other. This enabled pupils (and teachers) to have direct access to a subject expert, as well as to examine artefacts held by the institution, or to explore the institutional environment itself. A number of schools (whether or not they availed themselves of gateway services of this kind) also established their own links with individuals and institutions for the purposes of ‘tapping in’ to their expertise. These included curriculum-focused conferences (for example a 6th Form talk on fluid mechanics from a university lecturer) as well as vocationally–focused question and answer sessions with representatives of local or national industries, services and educational institutions. Another example of this one-to-many approach was the use of external tutors for minority subjects or small student groups. Some schools took advantage of the services of a commercial provider. For example, a rural secondary school in our sample, with a small 6th Form and few local opportunities for alternative provision, bought in remotely delivered courses in A-level subjects such as psychology and sociology. Another secondary school solved much the same problem by collaborating with two other schools to ensure a viable 6th Form group, with the course tutor located in the ‘host’ school. A similar approach was taken by a primary school and its partner school, both small rural primary institutions, using video conferencing to develop and work on joint activities which were previously only possible by ‘bussing’ children from one school to the other. Mode of interaction This refers to whether the major focus of the conference, from the perspective of the students or teachers in the evaluation schools, was on receiving, providing or sharing information. The ‘remote expert’ model, for example, clearly suggests the first of these. Most such conferences typically involved an introductory talk by the expert/s, often accompanied by demonstrations or an examination of artefacts. This was generally followed by opportunities for students to ask questions, develop ideas and/or contextualise the newly gained knowledge with reference to their classwork (for example by explaining to the ‘expert’ what they had been studying and its relevance to the conference). The second (providing information) was a less-frequent school-based activity. There were some instances of schools offering expertise to other schools, however. An example of this was a proposal by a school which had developed expertise in working with children with 9 In some conferences two or three people might be involved in the ‘far end’ delivery . For the purposes of this report , however, these examples are discussed under the heading of ‘one-to-many’. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 26 of 104
  • 27. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project autistic disorders to offer video conference ‘surgeries’ for teachers who wished to find out about autism or discuss teaching and learning strategies. The school was also considering the viability of using video conferencing as a diagnostic tool. The idea here was to observe remotely the behaviour of students and to discuss issues with the teacher at the ‘far end’. The third (sharing) mode describes video conferences that were primarily designed as a mutual exchange or collaborative production of information, ideas and activities. This was a fairly common aspect of many video conferencing activities. These ranged from the relatively straightforward such as initial social exchange (described by one teacher as the ‘pleasantries and social side’) to collaborative projects. Examples of this latter approach include a joint Christmas service with another local school and a proposed collaborative musical production (a ‘hip-hopera’) with a school in Jamaica, which involved video conferencing as a planning, as well as performance medium. 4.2.2 Organisational factors Pre-conference organisation and planning As the above discussion indicates, pre-conference preparation is an essential stage of the video conferencing process if the session is to be successful and effective. All teachers recognised the need for thorough preparation, and many described detailed discussions between them and their video conferencing partners in planning the sessions. Making these arrangements could be a lengthy and elaborate process, particularly when setting up a ‘one off’ conference or the first in a series. Such exchanges typically involved reaching agreement on: • Lesson structure and content (including curriculum materials) • Teacher/other support roles (both pedagogic [the teaching style each would adopt] and organisational [leading, mediating, facilitating] ) • Pupil roles • Practical issues (such as identifying mutually convenient times for the conference or the exchange of curriculum materials) 4.2.3 Curricular factors Curriculum integration The effectiveness of any lesson – whether or not technology is involved – is a measure of the degree to which the anticipated learning objectives are achieved. This itself is likely to involve a combination of skill development and/or knowledge acquisition as well as – from the point of view of the evaluation schools - meeting specific objectives in line with the English National Curriculum, both cross-curricular (for example literacy and numeracy targets) and within- subject. As might be expected, there was considerable variation in the degree to which a given video conference session was embedded in the taught curriculum. The use of the technology for the remote delivery of discrete courses, such as the Advanced Level sessions described in paragraph 4.2.1, represents an example of a completely integrated approach. In this approach, the curriculum is entirely accessed via video conferencing (indeed in this particular example it would not have been accessible without it). May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 27 of 104
  • 28. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project At the other end of the scale is the ‘familiarisation’ type conference described earlier, in which participants get used to video conferencing technology and protocols. The extent to which these different approaches might be considered an ‘educationally effective’ video conference is discussed in the concluding remarks of this Section, but even at relatively low level of integration, however, many teachers indicated significant improvements in children’s confidence in speaking and listening, key components of literacy and essential skills for accessing the curriculum more generally. Place of the conference within the lesson or series of lessons In the majority of cases, conferences tended to be more-or-less self-contained events, that is to say, they represented a discrete lesson rather than being part of a lesson. The conference as ‘special event’ is partly a function of a number of coinciding variables, including: • Location of the equipment: if fixed, this often necessitated a booking arrangement, similar to that commonly found for ICT suites; if mobile, then a degree of ‘setting up’ sometimes disrupted the normal flow of the lesson • External links: the very process of communicating with an external person or group again breaks up the regular pattern of teacher-pupil interaction 10 • Timetabling: the need to arrange mutually convenient timetables (as in a school-to- school conference), or to book a conference with an external provider (such as a gallery or museum), often meant having to schedule the conference at times other than the regular curriculum slot. In the latter ‘remote expert’ approach, the need to fit in with the provider’s availability sometimes resulted in the conference occurring out of sequence, that is before or after the particular topic was addressed in the taught curriculum. For the most part, these disjunctions represented something that simply needed to be taken into consideration. This came with experience, so that most teachers quickly learned to anticipate and plan for such eventualities. Nevertheless, where conferences were a part of a series of lessons (such as a weekly meeting between two classes), or open arrangement (such as ‘drop-in’ language sessions between students in a secondary school and their counterparts in a French school), there was a greater sense of ‘seamlessness’. Moreover, the very regularity of such events meant that participants at each site became accustomed to communicating in this way and developed more secure relationships with one another, which certainly contributed to conferencing becoming a normal part of the teaching and learning routine. 4.2.4 Technical factors The impact of technical factors on the effectiveness of a conference are both those which were likely to affect its ‘smooth running’ and those which had a direct impact on the learning itself. Because of the potential impact of such factors, these are discussed in detail in a separate section (Section 9). 4.3 Summary: Ensuring an effective conference We have identified four broad approaches to the educational use of video conferencing, Familiarisation, Substitution, Enhancement and Adaptation. Each of these is subject to a variety of contextualising factors that relate to structure, organisation, and learning objectives. While much of this might apply to teaching and learning more generally, it is clear that the addition of technology, coupled with the essence of the video conferencing experience, live 10 This was an issue for both within-UK conferences where it was necessary to synchronise timetables for a given subject, as well as international links where accommodation had to be made for time differences, sometimes necessitating pre- or post-school hours contact. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 28 of 104
  • 29. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project interaction with others, introduces additional layers of complexity which necessitates a high degree of forward planning. The task for the teacher, therefore, is to consider how best to ensure an appropriate match between learning objectives and the use of the technology. This suggests a need to undertake some form of ‘fitness-for-purpose’ analysis, which takes account of the above. An important starting point here is the distinction between a successful conference (one in which everything ‘goes as planned’) and an educationally effective one (characterised by meeting fitness-for-purpose criteria). For example we came across several conferences which were considered by teachers to have ‘worked’, despite (in the opinion of the researchers) relatively modest learning gains. These were often relatively straightforward exchanges which were enthusiastically received by all concerned, but which were difficult to ‘map’ onto specific curricular objectives. Most of these occurred in schools which had no or little previous experience of video conferencing, and thus represented first experiences designed to establish confidence with both the teachers and the pupils, an important - indeed necessary - first step which enabled further development to take place. In a few cases, however, a more experienced school was observed to continue this process beyond the point needed to develop students' (or teachers') video conferencing capability. For example one observed conference, an apparently ambitious learning objective (the development of modern foreign language skills through a question and answer session) seemed to be achieved in what was a smoothly executed conference. However, as later revealed by participating students, the session had included a repetition of well-practised routines and the mediation of the students' experience through the teachers, a relatively low- level use of a powerful medium. 4.3.1 Exemplars of good practice The following examples represent what we consider to be good illustrations of sessions where ‘fitness for purpose’ criteria were fully met, where general approach and contextualising factors came together to produce a conference which was both organisationally successful and educationally highly effective. Exemplar model 1: Substitution Background The observed conference was part of a series of weekly sessions for AS psychology at a rural secondary school in the south-west. The entire curriculum was remotely delivered by a commercial provider. This approach is used for other A-Level subjects (eg, sociology) for which there is limited demand (because of a small 6th form). The location of the school means that visiting tutors are difficult to find and/or retain. The session takes the form of a small-group seminar, with students answering questions on previously learned material, the presentation of new topics, and general discussion. The topic of the observed session was ‘eating disorders’. Structural factors • Pattern of interaction: One to many • Mode of interaction: Receiving information; Information exchange • Number of sites involved: 2 Organisational factors • Pre-conference planning: − Far-end: Professional tutor, Set roles in line with provider policy and agreed with school − Near-end: Reading of set texts, Preparation of answers, Email exchanges with tutor to discuss topic & submit work • Role of teacher(s)/other adults: − Far-end: Traditional role of seminar tutor − Near-end: No teacher present May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 29 of 104
  • 30. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project • Role of pupils: Traditional role of seminar students • Number of pupils: 4 Y12 students (2 male, 2 female) Curricular factors − Place of the conference within the subject curriculum: One of a series of lessons delivering the whole of the AS Psychology specification − Place of the conference within the lesson or series of lessons: Part of ongoing work in this area Technological factors • Connectivity type/speed: ISDN2 • Involvement of other technologies: None • Visual/auditory quality: Visual - slight delay and ‘jerkiness’ but within acceptable limits; Sound - good. The conference: Summary of observer’s notes Tutor asks students in turn to respond to questions based on reading and research task given at previous session. This followed by a short (10 minutes) task where pairs of students were required (‘off-camera’) to read a ‘case study’ (a different one for each pair), discuss issues raised by it (in response to tutor-provided questions) and to gave mini-presentations on their conclusions (for example one pair described to the other the key characteristics of anorexia). The objective was to consider the extent to which the ‘case study’ matched standard diagnostic criteria through identifying those criteria from the case description). The second pair did the same for bulimia. The tutor periodically intervened to prompt, probe etc. The session concluded with a revision of material learned, the setting of tasks for the following week, and an opportunity for students to ask general questions or seek clarifications (both about the curriculum and about tasks). Outcome: meeting learning objectives Teacher’s view Positives: Remote tutor: The remote tutor had delivered this course to a number of schools. In his view this was typical of most sessions, which were deliberately modelled on a traditional small-group seminar (the limit for such groups is 10 students). He felt that the technology was not a barrier, and that once students gained familiarity with it, the interaction between tutor and student was as ‘normal’ as in a regular classroom setting. The learning achieved was also, therefore, on a par with the traditional model. The view of the Head of 6th form (also the lead teacher for organising video conferencing in the school) was similarly convinced of the value of this approach. It resolved the difficulty of recruiting suitable tutors (or the prospect of losing students) and was regarded as of equal merit to school- delivered courses and that attainment was not negatively affected. Negatives: Remote tutor: The only disadvantage cited by the tutor was that the period of contact was relatively brief, with no opportunity between sessions for direct contact. However, students were encouraged to use email if they needed to contact him, which was also used for the submission of assignments. Head of 6th Form: Her view was that the autonomy of 6th form students in general was an asset for this approach, and was less sure if this model would work with younger students. Pupils’ view The students strongly echoed the view of both tutors that this was a highly effective model. When asked to compare it with other course, they considered it to be of equal value. They enjoyed working with the tutor, did not see the technology as a barrier, and were of the opinion that to all intents and purposes this was much the same experience as working with a school-based tutor. The only negative aspect mentioned echoed that of the remote tutor, about the lack of between- May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 30 of 104
  • 31. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project session contact, expressed by one student as that they ‘couldn’t just stop someone in the corridor’ to ask a question. However they also said that email served fairly well in this regard, and that the tutor was responsive. Researcher’s view The engagement of the students, and the interaction between students and tutor appeared be very similar to that expected in a face-to-face session. The technology appeared not to act as a great barrier, and all appeared to be quite comfortable with it. The tutor clearly controlled the session, and it was also based on prepared work which followed from the previous session. The conference ended, again, much like a traditional face-to-face session, with the teacher setting a task and a ‘see you next week’ conclusion. To all intents and purposes the session represented a successful and traditional seminar, with the technology merely providing a means by which this could take place. As a solution to specific problem, this seemed to be highly effective. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 31 of 104
  • 32. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Exemplar model 2: Enhancement Background The observed conference took place in a primary school in the north-east. The session involved Y6 pupils presenting information to and responding to questions from ‘Mary’, a prospective parent who was at a remote location (‘Mary’ was in fact a colleague playing the role, but the children were unaware of this). The conference involved the pupils giving a presentation about various aspects of the school by way of persuading Mary to bring her child there. The material had been prepared as part of a whole-class literacy scheme exploring the media and the use of persuasive argument. The conference involved children both asking and responding to questions. The pupils had prior experience of video conferencing. Structural factors • Pattern of interaction: One to many • Mode of interaction: Providing information; Information exchange • Number of sites involved: 2 Organisational factors • Pre-conference planning: − Far-end: Development of ‘script’ for ‘Mary’ − Near-end: Development of children’s presentations; Pre-conference preparation with children on communication: eg, speaking slowly and clearly, awareness of regional accent etc. • Role of teacher(s)/other adults: − Far-end: ‘Mary’ as prospective parent enquiring about the suitability of the school for her child − Near-end: Teacher as facilitator • Role of pupils: Presenters of pre-prepared information; Interviewees • Number of pupils: 19 Y6 pupils (presenting in groups of 4) [observed conference involved 5 groups] Curricular factors • Place of the conference within the subject curriculum: Part of National Literacy Strategy on speaking and listening, persuasive argument • Place of the conference within the lesson or series of lessons: Part of ongoing work in this area Technological factors • Connectivity type/speed: ISDN2 • Involvement of other technologies: None • Visual/auditory quality: Good The conference: Summary of observer’s notes A group of children offers some aspect of the school’s life. Mary listens to all four and then asks pertinent questions to each, using their names. Mary is well prepared and convincing. Questions are pitched at the appropriate level, she uses names to draw in the children and appears really interested in the children themselves. This is more impressive as Mary’s questions are ‘cold’ – she has no idea what the children might say. Near-end teacher takes little part here, no mediation of questions. She controls the camera, uses zoom to focus on individuals, presentation material etc. Encourages the children, but does not stand between the children and the remote expert. Other (non-presenting) children were involved occasionally - clapping, singing, all reciting tables and so on. After the conference, debriefing in which teacher asked children to reflect on one another’s performances. Outcome: meeting learning objectives Teacher’s view Positives: Children presented well, communicated clearly and with confidence. Mary had managed to ask a question of every child. The children had answered Mary’s questions well, were convincing in using persuasive arguments. One child who was a reluctant public speaker did offer Mary a limited contribution, which represented real progress. Teacher expressed satisfaction with the children’s responses to Mary’s questions, which were considered to be an improvement on that which would be expected in a regular classroom session, especially because they were unrehearsed and unscripted. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 32 of 104
  • 33. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Negatives: The room (long and narrow) meant that not all the children could see at one time. Pupils’ view The children had thoroughly enjoyed the session. They were clear that speaking slowly to make others understand you was important. They liked speaking to different people and persuading them! They like video conferencing because ‘you get to know people from elsewhere and sometimes make new friends’. They also had devised a variety of strategies for getting over their anxiety of speaking in public. Researcher’s view The conference was highly successful in terms of meeting its learning objectives. The children appeared at ease with the remote other and keen to make a good impression on behalf of their school. In discussion afterwards the teacher was able to identify problematic issues such as the need to ensure that non-involved pupils were also engaged. She also recognised limits of the room and was developing plans with colleagues to alleviate this. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 33 of 104
  • 34. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 5 The Impact of video conferencing: Part 1 Enriching the learning experience Key findings of this section • Video conferencing can support a shift to learner autonomy • Students can access other cultures, both unfamiliar and those of their home communities, enabling links and cultural identity to be formed and maintained • Video conferencing can enable ‘authentic’ experience – students hear things from ‘the horse’s mouth’ and can respond immediately with their own questions • A ‘real’ audience means students take their participation seriously 5 Introduction In the previous section we described the various ways in which video conferencing was used in the evaluation schools, and in doing so attempted to construct a 'fitness-for-purpose' framework in which type of use, curriculum objective and various contextual factors were considered together. In this section we explore the nature and quality of those activities and their capacity to enrich the learning experience of students. 5.1 Curriculum enhancement The evaluation schools were selected partly on the basis of their involvement with four areas of the curriculum; English, the humanities (history and geography), modern foreign languages and citizenship. In most cases schools were engaged in a range of activities relating to a broader range of curriculum areas than these four. Moreover, while all possible attempts were made to match a site visit to the designated curriculum area, these were necessarily organised to fit with the schools' timetable and availability. Thus the video conferencing activity in a school selected because of its work within (say) citizenship might on the day of the visit have focussed on history or science. It was often the case, however, that while the specific focus of a video conference may have been on one subject area, there were numerous opportunities to develop children's skills, knowledge and understanding in other areas of the curriculum, as well as the fostering of key or cross-curricular skills. For example one area of the curriculum for which video conferencing appeared to be especially suited was modern foreign languages (MFL). Synchronous, face to face interaction with native speakers of French or German was reported to be a real benefit for language students who were said to develop confidence and competence above what would be expected in a more traditional lesson. However, other benefits accrued which might be regarded as more generic (for example the development of speaking and listening skills) or related to other subject areas (for example citizenship through the raising of cultural awareness; geography through the exchange of local environmental data) and so on. The example described later in this section of students communicating with an author to discuss a set text represents a powerful use of the technology to enhance the understanding of English literature. It represents another example of the cross-curricular potential of video conferencing, since the activity also contributed to the development of key literacy skills. The extent to which a given activity focussed on these further educational aspects was, of course, dependent on the learning objective and the direction of the teacher. It was the often the case, nevertheless, that in describing the contribution that video conferencing made to the pupils' learning in a specific subject, teachers referred to wider educational benefits. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 34 of 104
  • 35. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project In the following discussion, therefore, we present examples from across a range of subjects to explore some of the distinctive features of video conferencing as a learning medium and examine its potential to enhance the classroom experience. 5.2 Beyond the classroom walls One of the most significant benefits that video conferencing offers is its ability to give students ‘live’ access to a world outside their classrooms. While this is possible via other means such as email and the internet, it is the face-to-face element of the interaction which sets it apart from these technologies. It is also this aspect that teachers and students alike reported as being especially motivating. This capability, to talk directly with people in other parts of the world, immediately opens up tremendous possibilities, so that for example students could talk to an astronaut at NASA, an underwater archaeologist or hear the stories of children from different parts of the world. These were all events that we encountered during the evaluation. At a more local level, the opportunity to communicate with children in schools from different areas of the country or the school ‘down the road’ was also highly valued. A lot of our children won’t get out of Birmingham, let alone out of England, let alone (get to) anywhere else … (video conferencing is) making them more aware of what’s around them, and if that only lasts for five minutes, it lasts for five minutes, but the seed’s there that will develop later on. That’s the biggest thing. Lead teacher, EAZ With video conferencing, therefore, children’s experiences were not limited to what is possible in the classroom, or achievable in a school trip, rather, it opened doors to the world, and all its resources. 5.3 Authentic learning experiences The above quotation illustrates clearly the distinctive nature of the medium. The experience of communicating directly with normally inaccessible people and places provided a sense of authenticity that was difficult to achieve with other media. For example several schools used video conferencing to link to schools in other European countries for modern foreign language exchanges. Teachers were clear in their view that listening and speaking to native speakers – especially when of the same age - was a great motivator for the development of students’ language skills. This emphasis on authenticity was echoed in other curriculum areas. In the humanities, teachers described how their students experienced ‘history as reality’. For example, following a video conference with the Cabinet War Rooms in London about World War II, a student at one of the Special schools, commented that the CWR tutor had: … showed us things we haven’t got in school and we could talk about them.… you can communicate with people you would probably never meet. Student, Special School In their very first video conference, a group of Y4 pupils expressed the difference for them of communicating directly with children form another culture compared to learning about them in more traditional ways. This inspired them to find out more about their country, lives and language. I like listening to children from different countries because you find more about their hobbies and interests. You could learn more about them like if they have brothers and sisters, what their problems are… May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 35 of 104
  • 36. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project I’d like to learn how they say some words […] I thought it was quite interesting to do because you can learn different languages. Y4 Pupils, Primary School 5.4 Access to experts Video conferencing can introduce another level of authenticity, that is, direct access to the knowledge and understanding of experts. The use of email or the internet for (mainly asynchronous) exchanges with remote artists, authors, historians and so on has in some schools been a feature of curriculum activity for a number of years. The has enabled students to plan their own questions, responding to the challenge of an email or online discussion with the expert, as well as, in some cases, to read and respond to the comments of other students from other schools. Video conferencing takes this process a stage further, so that these communications are not only happening in real time, but also face to face. For example, a student at a secondary school described, in an email diary to the research team, his exchange with the author of the book his class was studying. The conference had also involved students in another school studying the same text: We asked the author questions about the book and its background, as well as about his writing style, and discussed our ideas about the book. Video conferencing enabled us to share ideas with pupils from the other school, and to hear their questions and views. Student, Secondary School Remote access to curriculum specialists – that is, teachers or lecturers with expertise in a particular subject area – was also a feature many of the conferences in which the evaluation schools were involved. The Motivate team, part of the Millennium Mathematics Project, was a good example of this approach. The team offers tailored sessions to schools for the enhancement of mathematics. Participating schools (3 of which were part of the evaluation sample) worked with Motivate through a range of collaborative, problem-solving activities. This would generally involve the introduction of a problem via video conferencing, followed by ‘offline’ classroom discussion, before returning to the video conference to discuss the solution. The conferences organised by Motivate generally involved several schools at the same time, with inter-school collaboration for some activities. Students involved in the project were generally very positive about the experience, finding the collaborative aspect of the scheme especially attractive. Pupils at one secondary school, for example, told us that they found studying maths this way to be exciting, a new experience for some who had struggled with the subject. When asked whether it was the nature of the activities rather than the video conferencing which made the subject ‘come alive’ for them, the general verdict was that it was a combination of both factors, with the additional incentive of working with University maths experts. Our kids love talking to Professors…about what they've been doing and how they've got stuck and where they've got to. Teacher-user, Secondary School A particularly powerful example of this combination of authenticity and expertise was that of students at a secondary school, who were involved in a series of video conferences as part of their study of the mutiny on the Bounty, which involved linking up with experts both in the UK and Australia. The lead teacher in the school described the process: We've done three conferences, one to the National Maritime Museum, where they talked about life on board ship and what it would have been like for Captain Bligh and his men; the second one to the Public Records Office and there they showed us the Captain's log and they told us again what the circumstances were for the mutiny; and then in the third one we went to the Great Barrier Reef and spoke to the archaeologists and divers who dived down to the May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 36 of 104
  • 37. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Pandora which is the wrecked ship that was sent out to find the Bounty, and the pupils were just captivated, they absolutely loved it, they're world experts now on Captain Bligh! Lead teacher, Secondary School Another example was from a Y6 history lesson in which children were linked to the experts at the Greenwich Maritime Museum. The children now have got a good general overview of Tudor explorers and they’ve started to look at some of the more specific objectives to do with why Tudors explored and we can explore that further in the class and also about life on board Tudor ships and I think that particularly is good for the children because the resources they’ve got available help them to imagine what it would be like more than any book would do. Teacher-user, Junior School What was especially valuable about the gallery and museum specialists was the careful matching of activities to national curriculum specifications, as well as the provision of support materials. This provided teachers with a ready-made lesson which slotted directly into their classroom work, combined with expert tuition and remote access to rare artefacts. We’ve done a wonderful one with the National Archives, they do one called ‘What is History?’ and they send a pack, it’s upstairs in the classroom actually. I’ve done it with two classes and I’m about to do it with my Year 7 class next week and they’re very, very good, they send you all the stuff first of all, and it fits in exactly with the start of the Year 7 National Curriculum in History, and they just know what they’re on about, same with the National Portrait Gallery, they’re brilliant too. Teacher-user, Secondary School Interacting with experts in this way thus introduced something quite unique into the classroom while at the same time fitting in with schemes of work. It is difficult to think of any other media that have the potency of the kind of exchanges described here. 5.5 Enhancing social and communication skills A powerful effect of using video conferencing is its tendency to increase in users a sense of audience. Teachers reported this be substantially improved in comparison with within-class activities such as student presentations. A teacher in an EAZ, for example, claimed that awareness of a 'real' audience encouraged students to try to be more aware of how they presented themselves, a view confirmed by many students. “When we video conference we know there’s other kids here and they’re our age, and we know we’ve got to perform our best. If they’re going to take the mickey out of our accent, or if they’re not going to understand what we’re saying, it’s going to be embarrassing, and we recognise that we represent our school, and we recognise that we represent Birmingham”. They’ve got all these issues that it’s not just them, they’re symbolic, and therefore they have to perform at their very best. Their thinking has to be good, they have to plan what they’re going to say, they have to say it precisely, they have to articulate carefully. Y9 Student, Secondary School The very act of communicating with remote others was reported to improve the core literacy skills of speaking and listening. Again, this learning was often as not incidental to the main subject focus of the lesson. A headteacher at one primary school, for example, told us that the pupils had learned that they needed to project their voices more, to speak more clearly and to use more expression. An example of this in an international exchange was in an observed conference involving a class of Y4 children in a UK school with a group of children from Poland. In interview afterwards, the children reported that discovering that children in Poland wore similar clothes, liked the same pop groups and shared hobbies and interests was a revelatory experience. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 37 of 104
  • 38. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project What was equally notable, however, was that although this was the first experience of video conferencing for the English and Polish children, both groups showed considerably sensitivity to their respective audience. A combination of the effects of awareness of remote others described earlier, a recognition of the English language limitations of the Polish children and the regulation imposed on communication by the technology resulted in an intuitive recognition of the need to speak clearly and slowly for their Polish counterparts. 5.6 Student autonomy Another feature of video conferencing in a number of schools was a genuine shift towards student autonomy, something which is often claimed (but much less frequently demonstrated) for ICT. A number of teachers told us that they allowed the students to ‘get on with it’. This reflected in some cases a deliberate strategy to develop in students a degree of independence from the teacher, and in others to provide informal opportunities for students to interact with one another. An example of the latter occurred with pupils of a middle school, where pairs of Y7 students used the system during their lunchtime to converse informally withY5 students from a school in Brest, France. Although an adult was always present at one of the two schools during these sessions, the intention was that they be informal with as little intervention by teachers as possible. I can supervise both ends because I'm only there for communication purposes. If the communication breaks down because they can't understand each other I have to chip in and help out but I don't actually say: "now you speak, now you speak", they do it on their own. Lead teacher, Middle School This degree of informality and autonomy proved to be a powerful incentive, as students voluntarily gave up their break-time to talk to their ‘video-pals’. A similar arrangement – here mainly for social exchanges - applied where pupils in two ‘partner’ schools (two linked rural primaries) had informal social exchanges during break times. In the lunchtime social sessions they just wander in after lunch and see who's on the other end and chat with them. Teacher-user, Primary School A 6th Form student explained that these less formal arrangements were not only enjoyable socially, but also led to genuine learning. I’ve done unsupervised conferences with just the Germans on the other end and no-one with us, and it was good but we didn’t get much conversation done but we had a lot of fun doing it because we were learning how to communicate without have a permanent translator with us. Y11 Student, Secondary School In terms of gains in language skills in the former case, and social and communication skills in both examples, these arrangements were reported to be especially effective. These links were often developed further in more conventional exchanges, for example through residential visits and school to school exchanges. The Middle school mentioned above was involved in both of these activities: The conferencing at lunchtime […] that's our bread and butter - that's what we do most of the time. But we do other things. For example we do a joint residential with us on Dartmoor and then they come over and also spend a day in school with our year 7s. And then we go over with our year 7s and spend a day or 2 with them in France. [And] this week the choir have been preparing all of the Christmas carols in French […] the band and the choir came and we May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 38 of 104
  • 39. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project performed it to the French school and then the French sang us a Christmas carol and we swapped notes about when we swap presents and that kind of thing. Lead teacher, Middle School 5.7 Raising cultural awareness The above example neatly demonstrates how the impact of video conferencing was not restricted to the development of a discrete domain of skill or understanding. Children were intrigued by other people’s lives and cultures, curious to explore similarities with and differences from their own lived experience. Again, while this is to a limited extent achievable via other technology, or through more traditional communications such as pen-pal letters, the kind of interaction made possible via video conferencing was said to offer a far richer experience. Exchanging information about local environments and ways of life can be clearly located in citizenship curriculum. The following example of refugee students finding a world-wide audience for their stories is a powerful illustration of an exchange which fits clearly within the study of citizenship, but which also encompassed concepts (eg, distribution of and access to resources, similarities and differences) that are central to the international and global dimensions of school geography: It was just like someone had opened the floodgates. These were kids who had been speaking English, some of them, less than a year and they were saying, we came from a country where there was war, we’re in England now and we can go to school, and we’re happy. … but these ones in South Africa started to say “Excuse me, before we go any further I’d just like to ask the girl there, the one with the scarf on, a girl from Afghanistan, we hear that in Afghanistan you weren’t allowed to watch TV”, and she said “No, we weren’t allowed to watch TV, we weren’t allowed to listen to the radio” and these kids were just completely gobsmacked, I mean you could have heard a pin drop anywhere. Then one of the other kids from South Africa said “You are strangers in the country that you now live in”. I thought this was a wonderful question. “How do you feel, how are you made to feel living in England when you are not English?” … and the kids were saying things like “Well, in my country I had to sleep on the floor because there were bombs dropping. Now I’ve got my own bed”. “In my country, I couldn’t go to school, I’d never been to school before I came to Britain”. I mean just unbelievable things. “There was no electricity in the town where I was brought up” … Even though they were talking to, it must have been hundreds of people, there wasn’t that feeling of … It was really quite a feeling of intimacy that we’d managed to create across the world … Lead teacher, Secondary School Another school used video conferencing to enable students to link with the communities from which they, or their families, originated. In another, bilingual students had the opportunity to talk in their home language to their friends and relatives, creating opportunities for them to explore and affirm their familial and cultural identities, a potential illustrated in the following comment: I have a little boy who’s in Year 10, who was involved in one of the conferences to the Portrait Gallery, who came to me the next day and said “My village in Africa, I’d really like to talk to them on the video conference”, and I said “Do they have electricity?”, and he said “No”, and I said I thought we’d have to wait a while. … I did find that very moving. Lead teacher, Secondary School Another example comes from students in a Birmingham school who linked with NASA in Houston, asking astronauts about the experience of living and working in space, a project which could be seen to be incorporate science, history and environmental geography. The students were able to ask questions that intrigued them directly, and receive authentic May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 39 of 104
  • 40. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project answers from those who had actually experienced space travel. Students also talked to a NASA 'global weather pattern expert', asking if his current predictions were likely to affect the UK: He was explaining to all the people connected [in the conference) about global warming, and how the different weather patterns have changed.... but also for this kid then to be able to ask a question of a NASA expert about what was going on. .... the kid said to the guy in NASA 'From what you're saying are we going to see snow in Birmingham?' and this guy, he said: 'No, the whole of Great Britain, you can forget about your toboggan, it's just going to rain!' .... But it was that thing about interconnection.... we're all interconnected, it's a very small global village we inhabit and the video conference really exposes that. Lead teacher, EAZ While some of the most dramatic examples of this kind were interactions with people on the other side of the world, the opportunities offered by more local exchanges were also valuable. Interactions between rural school pupils and their counterparts in large inner city multicultural institutions, for example, often proved to be equally revelatory events. A small rural school in Cumbria, for example, received requests for video conferencing partly because of its location: I suppose for people in Tower Hamlets that's a big thing. Yes, for them I'll put the camera out and there's the cows out now. Headteacher, Primary School This was much more than a virtual bucolic experience for ‘inner city kids’ however. The rural children also saw – and learned about – aspects of life in a large city. For both groups of children, this was a genuine learning experience. A teacher from a secondary school in the rural Midlands described another example of the use of video conferencing for this kind of exchange. The school had established links with a school in North London, a rural/urban link similar to that in the Cumbrian school above. In this case, however, both schools had large traveller communities, a second focus of the conference, representing an exploration of cultural identity on at least two levels. What happened was through Global Leap… they saw the fact that we have a large number of travellers and.. we decided to set up a link… they had about 15-20 people and we had about 4 or 5 because we thought we'd start off with a small number, and they loved it, both sides…. it was an all girl school in north London, and I thought they'd be older girls, very streetwise, and our kids aren't really streetwise, and it was very positive. They've got another one pencilled in for next Wednesday and they talk about themselves, their experiences and it's a way of sharing ideas and seeing that there are other people in the world who are travellers rather than just the same people in your area, so I thought I'd try and keep that one going. Lead teacher, Secondary School 5.8 Summary The evidence gathered during the evaluation clearly indicates that video conferencing, effectively used, introduces something unique into the classroom experience. In doing so it not only has the potential to enhance the learning of a given subject, but its use is associated with a range of additional educational benefits which go beyond the curriculum area which is the focus of the lesson. In that sense, the suitability of video conferencing for a particular subject or skill area is difficult to analyse. This is not to say that it is not possible to identify appropriate video conferencing-mediated activities for particular areas of the curriculum, indeed Arnold et al. (2004) provide valuable guidance for teachers in this regard. Whether it is 'better suited' to languages than maths, however, makes sense only if the context in which it is used and the broader learning objectives are taken into account, which returns us to the notion of 'fitness for purpose' proposed in the previous Section. While the modern languages or English may seem to lend themselves to more naturally to a communicative medium, ability in speaking, listening and collaboration are equally important for mathematics. That video May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 40 of 104
  • 41. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project conferencing has the potential to benefit students across the curriculum is, for the teachers that have embraced this technology, not in doubt, as the following quotation (which describes just a small part of the activities being developed in the school) amply demonstrates. In terms of curriculum objectives we’ve got a video conference planned for each class, the ones that we do with the Year 3 […] it’s their first experience, so at the moment it’s ‘ my first video conference’ so it’s good speaking and listening opportunities for them, so it’s enhancing their literacy curriculum. And then we’ve got some History ones, we’ve got some to the National Portrait Gallery as well; we’ve got a literacy one in Year 5 to Southern Film Studio I think where they’re going to link in literacy and James & the Giant Peach, that’s happening next week. Lead teacher, Junior School We have begun to see, in this Section how the enthusiasm and engagement which the use of video conferencing appears to generate in children is closely linked to the benefits which accrue from its use. In the following section we examine more specifically the impact of video conferencing usage on the individual in terms of their academic achievement, attitude and motivation. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 41 of 104
  • 42. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 6 The impact of video conferencing: Part 2 Attainment, motivation and behaviour Key findings of this section • While teachers were generally unable to offer statistical evidence for performance gains, their judgements were that video conferencing impacted upon achievement positively. • Teachers and students acknowledged powerful learning effects as a consequence of a video conferencing session. • Video conferencing is, in the main, highly motivating to students and improvements in pupil behaviour occur during video conferencing sessions. • Teachers had yet to explore the potential of video conferencing and how it might affect the way that they taught. 6 Introduction The excitement and interest that video conferencing aroused in most of the teachers and students exposed to it suggest that it is likely to impact on learning and teaching in a direct way. In this section, we explore the ways in which video conferencing appeared to affect the attainment, motivation and behaviour of students who engaged with it. 6.1 Learning and attainment The collection of reliable data on the relationship between video conferencing and attainment by the research team proved impossible. The use of video conferencing in any one school and/or with any one group was neither systematic nor sustained enough for any statistical data to be convincing. The calendar of video conferencing events collected from schools showed that the use of video conferencing tended to be opportunistic and exploratory rather than being systematically used to deliver examination specifications or attainment targets within the National Curriculum. In the one instance of using video conferencing to deliver an examination course using regular timetabled events, the motivation was the small numbers in each of three schools that had chosen the subject, rather than any perceived benefits to levels of attainment. In some cases, for example where the equipment had only been in place for a few weeks, the more exploratory use was appropriate in those circumstances. In the event, information on learning and attainment was collected using the professional judgements of the teachers involved and the perceptions of the pupils. The least positive reaction from the teachers was that video conferencing had not damaged the potential grades of their pupils. I don't feel that we've got it so disastrously wrong that our candidates are being prejudiced, because their results are exactly what I'd expect if we hadn't had this link (with a school abroad in a language class). Teacher-user, Secondary School Most of the teachers were reluctant to commit themselves to a definite view that video conferencing had increased attainment. They cited the fact that video conferencing had not been going long enough in their schools, or that they had been using it in an exploratory rather than a systematic way as the main reasons why they could not quantify any effects. Alternatively, the difficulty of isolating the effects of video conferencing from other initiatives, or the presence of other factors such as a new Headteacher, or an inspirational teacher were May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 42 of 104
  • 43. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project cited as reasons why it was difficult to be sure about the quantitative impact on pupil attainment. Nevertheless, teachers were convinced of the gains in ability that video conferencing could bring about. I can't say definitely that that's just down to video conferencing but it certainly has an effect. They’re asking and answering questions, there's no doubt about it, they are far better than they used to be before we had the video conference unit […] they prepare themselves, they will keep that knowledge fresh in their mind, they will revisit through the year and I don't have to keep including it in my lessons. […] They take over ownership for themselves[…] As to how you would quantify that in a way that you could....I don't know. Lead teacher, Secondary School Even where there had been targeted and non-targeted groups doing the same work through video conferencing and through the usual classroom activity, the responsible teacher was reluctant to attribute any difference in attainment to video conferencing alone (for example, in an Education Action Zone). Nevertheless, most of the teachers and Principals, when invited to offer their professional judgements did maintain that these positive responses to video conferencing would inevitably 'feed through' into performance gains, even if this was difficult to demonstrate quantitatively. In these cases, any impact on attainment was seen as being mediated through increases in motivation and attitudes, for example: If you do nothing more than change attitudes, I mean talking about poetry, if you change boys’ attitudes towards poetry, the impact on GCSE English marks should be dramatic. Headteacher, Secondary School Others were prepared to go further, arguing that video conferencing impacted more directly upon pupils’ attainment. .. we checked with the parents, we got their comments, we looked at their SATs results and these were kids with special educational needs and in terms of what we'd aimed at, all that triangulation was saying they've made fantastic progress in their confidence and it's spilling over into lessons, it's spilling over into their enthusiasm for education Lead teacher, EAZ In support of this, teachers often described sessions where they believed learning had been enhanced and real progress had been made rather than statistical evidence, as the example below illustrates. In a Year 6 conference with a remote ‘parent’, a pupil who had been previously reluctant to speak in public took part in a presentation to convince the ‘parent’ to send her children to the school. Not only did the pupil read her script at the appropriate moment, but also responded to questions appropriately from the remote parent, a total stranger. In the post-observation interview, the teacher expressed her delight that a barrier had been broken, through the desire of the pupil not to let her peers or her school down by not participating. Primary School video conference observation In addition to this perception of the general benefits of video conferencing, there was a definite view that the technology helped pupils to learn, in terms of specific learning objectives of particular sessions. By engaging pupils in interesting and novel activities, teachers felt that the acquisition of knowledge and skills was more assured. As the Headteacher at a Primary school argued, ‘it’s difficult to measure achievement (statistically), but I think certainly the achievement of the learning objectives (in a History video conference) was more certain for all levels of ability.’ The same Headteacher was so convinced of the effectiveness of video conferencing in promoting learning that he had made it the central plank of developments in May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 43 of 104
  • 44. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project his school. His LEA was so impressed with the progress that had been made that it had recruited him to lead another local ‘failing’ school, on the understanding that he would institute video conferencing as the main thrust of his reforms. This confidence that learning was helped by the experience of video conferencing was supported by the pupils themselves. In email diaries and group interviews, positive views of the learning experience of video conferencing were expressed. These ranged from, "I learned to speak better French", through "It helped to learn from a person that works for the organisation" to "learning real facts about the other school and not just stuff the teacher tells you". Pupils who felt they were not learning effectively identified technical problems as the main reason for this - "It was taking too slow for info to come up, but I learnt". 6.2 Motivation and attitudes Though the response to the introduction of video conferencing into the schools was not universally positive, the overwhelming reaction from management, teachers and pupils was favourable. Where video conferencing had made less of an impact, this was often associated with the lack of time for teachers to embed the facilities into classroom use or a consequence of competing demands for teacher time. [The teachers] have so many different things that they are required to do by the syllabus, so many things they would like to do and it's fitting them all in. Lead teacher, Secondary School Even in schools like this, however, there was recognition of the potential of video conferencing to make inroads into the normal routines of the classroom. As I say, we're only six months into it, so it's not bad. Teachers take a lot of time to get used to new things and I think that as it progresses it will snowball, because the more they do it, the more they'll want to do it, because they'll find all the good things from the others. Ibid. While there were individual pupils who were reluctant users of video conferencing, the only instance of a collective negative reaction was from a modern foreign languages class in a secondary school, where the lack of synchronisation between the lips of the remote speaker and the sound of the voice distracted the near end students. The group requested an end to video conference sessions. It was the technological limitations of this school's equipment that accounted for this negative reaction. In contrast, there were myriad instances of positive responses to the video conferencing experience. For staff and pupils alike, interview responses, observations of video conferencing events and email/diary accounts conveyed an enjoyment that would be hard to exaggerate. This can be exemplified by the audible gasps of horror from a Year 6 group of children when it was suggested that the video conferencing equipment might be taken away from them. The attitudes of teachers and pupils involved in video conferencing were partly dependent on the type of activity that they engaged in. Where a traditional lesson was delivered to multiple sites in a traditional way, students and teachers were generally less enthusiastic than those events where pupils were connected to remote experts or to other pupils in different parts of the country or the world. Nevertheless, nearly all the teachers interviewed reported that the pupils were motivated by the video conferencing experience, once they had overcome the initial strangeness of the situation. [… ] they were quite in awe of the whole thing of actually speaking to somebody and you could see them and they could see you, it took them a while to get used to just speaking to the screen and not mumbling, but […] it was just an excellent way for children to May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 44 of 104
  • 45. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project communicate with other people […] They just showed great enthusiasm for it, and fascinated by how it works and, well just fascinated by it. ICT co-ordinator, Primary School There were some pupils who initially expressed some reservations about the technology, in particular disliking the camera zooming in on them specifically. The feeling of being ‘exposed’ was an uncomfortable experience for some. The first time I used video conferencing I had a panic attack and I had to leave the room, and it was having the camera on me, it was horrible but I think after that I’d done it I thought well it wasn’t so bad actually, and I’ve started doing it more and more. Then it became an everyday thing. Y9 Student, Secondary School For most learners (as with the student quoted above), greater familiarity lessened this effect considerably, so that most became at ease with it. In observing the first video conference of a Year 11 Art class, a range of reactions was noted: from a reluctance to talk to the remote expert at all, through mainly responding to the expert's questions as if in a normal classroom, to an attempt to highjack the agenda of the session by a very confident and talented artist. The most common reaction of the teachers who had a more sustained experience of video conferencing was to note the increase in self-confidence that talking to remote others produced in their pupils. In more than one case, this transformed reluctant users into confident presenters: What was phenomenal about it to me was when we first gave this equipment out the parents were really enthusiastic, but the kids were so reluctant to use it; they would not speak into the microphone. We started off with a nice little activity where we linked them to RM., a guy dressed up as Father Christmas, and they'd written their Christmas lists out and they wanted to discuss them with Father Christmas. They'd brought their lists, drawn pictures of what they wanted, and when it came to it the kids wouldn't look at the screen, they wouldn't go near the microphone. They wouldn't interact at all. [But] at the end of this project, which ran for 12 months I did a talk at a conference, the Educating for the Millennium at Cheltenham College, and when I did the workshop I just got the kids to do it. The kids were sitting there and they were talking to an audience, 300 people from all over the world, and they were quite happy to tell them what they'd been doing, how to do this, how to do that. I don't know how you can put a price on that kind of confidence building from when they started to when they finished. Lead teacher, EAZ A similar effect was observed in a language class. They came in and the difference was enormous and instant – ‘can we have another go again tomorrow’. In class they were getting involved in a way they'd never done before because it suddenly seemed relevant - they could see people understanding them when they spoke. Teacher-user, Middle School We came across lots of these kind of examples of formerly unwilling speakers (according to their teachers) joining in, and contributing to a lesson when video conferencing was involved. The Headteacher of a special school, for example, told us that some of his students had been enabled to join classes at a nearby mainstream school because of their involvement with the school via video conference first. Video conferencing had meant that they could get to know the teachers and students at the mainstream school, so giving them the confidence to join in lessons there. A teacher in a middle school reported that video conferencing ‘takes away the focus from it being entirely on them’ [KS2 children] and the fact that they ‘don't actually have May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 45 of 104
  • 46. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project to meet these people face to face at the beginning’. The technology, she suggested, provided a means of building confidence for more public interaction. The lead teacher at another secondary school, this time in a rural location, claimed that students learned to be more confident answering questions and gave more extended responses, rather than the usual one or two word answers. This contributed to the students’ level thinking skills, since they had to do higher level processing of their thoughts. Another secondary teacher told us about a student who wouldn’t speak at all at the beginning of the year, but who now 'wouldn’t stop' since video conferencing was introduced into the school. The motivational effect of video conferencing also reached beyond the participants to their parents, who were highly positive about its use, and to the rest of the school, who wanted to be part of it of what was regarded as an exciting new approach. Participants in the video conferences did report that they felt special (Lead Teacher, Secondary; Teacher-user, Special) and experienced considerable enjoyment in the process. This sense of being involved in ‘something special’ can be summed up in the words of a primary teacher: I just think it's preparing them for the future. They're seeing a real use of ICT, a real application for it, it's extremely motivating for them and it's exciting. It's giving them access to things they wouldn't easily have access to. Teacher-user, Primary School A good example of this was a conference involving a primary school in the West country and a partner school in London, both linked to the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam. Not only were the children – who had all studied the subject as part of the KS2 history curriculum - able to ask questions of the museum’s education officer, but also to see – as the remote camera panned around the room – the interior of the House itself. A Fresno of excitement ran through the classroom when, in response to the question from one of the London pupils ‘Where’s the diary now?’, the education officer pointed, saying ‘It’s upstairs’. This moment encapsulated the potency of being ‘inside’ the actual house where the events they had studied took place, albeit via technology. 6.3 Behaviour As well as providing a motivating influence on the pupils, many of the teachers noted an effect on pupil behaviour during video conferencing sessions, which also extended into the normal classroom. The main behavioural effects were an increased concentration from the pupils and a greater awareness of the need to present themselves in positive ways towards the remote others. The increase in concentration was remarked upon by a number of teachers and was confirmed in all of the observations made by the research team. Even when conferences were longer than planned or were with younger pupils, the vast majority of the pupils maintained a disciplined demeanour in front of the camera. In some few cases where behaviour was defined as off-task by the researchers they were generally related to two situations. The first was where a lack of direct involvement in the conference led to disengagement. This occurred most frequently in large groups. An example of this was a four-way conference involving a class in a UK school and groups of same-age students in Finland, Poland, and Greece. The students in each country had prepared presentations, and the taking of turns - mediated by a teacher at each site - was well co- ordinated. However, because they spent far more time listening than presenting, many of the students in the UK class were observed to be disengaged, either because they were rehearsing their own material prior to their own presentation, or because they had (in the opinion of the observer) ‘switched off’ after being passive listeners for fairly lengthy periods. Thus while the conference was in organisational terms highly effective (and students gave a generally positive appraisal of their experience afterwards) some of its educational potential was lost as a result of this relative lack of interaction. The second situation occurred mainly where pupils were off-screen and marginal to the main activity. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 46 of 104
  • 47. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project In general, however, video conferencing led to an increase, rather than a diminution of children’s attention to task. Moreover, many of the pupils themselves expressed the view that, in communication with remote others, they were somehow representing themselves, or their school, or their locality to the wider world. Especially with younger pupils, this necessitated speaking clearly and slowly, in a way that could be easily understood by people who did not share their language, accent or way of talking. In a post-conference group interview in a Primary school, the Year 6 pupils were clear that speaking slowly to make others understand you was important. They had developed a variety of strategies to overcome any nerves they might feel in representing their school ('I pretended she was my friend', 'I tried to forget she was there as if I was talking in a mirror', 'I just did my best'). 6.4 Sub-group differences While the overarching reaction to video conferencing was favourable regardless of age, gender or ability, some minor differences in response were noted by teachers and Principals. In terms of gender, teachers had observed little difference in the way that boys and girls had responded to video conferencing and in a small number of cases where comment was made on differences, these were contradictory. One argued that 'boys were more vocal than girls' (Lead Teacher, Secondary ) an effect referred to by another teacher as the ‘John Motion phenomenon’, after the TV sports commentator. However girls were said by another teacher to be 'more sociable' and therefore responded better to the communications aspect of the technology. For different age groups, a common pattern emerged, with the very young being the most shy at the beginning and these needed a good deal of preparation and encouragement to contribute to sessions; "When we put our year 3s in front of the conferencing, they just completely clamed up …. It’s because there is a stranger on the other side" (Lead Teacher, Primary). This effect on younger children was relatively short-lived, as they gained confidence in 'meeting the stranger'. However, slightly older Primary pupils were generally much more enthusiastic and willing to engage at these early stages. The majority of secondary school students were, in post-conference interviews and in email diaries, positive about their video conferencing experiences, with many showing an interest in the cutting edge nature of the technology. I think it’s good because firstly the technology is really good and it makes children think it’s more fun to do this kind of stuff when they’re actually speaking rather than just seeing a teacher up at the front of the classroom. Y6 Pupil, Junior School However, some tended to display less public enthusiasm, affecting something of a ‘disinterested’ style. I think initially there might be some minor differences (in age groups), overall I don't. The thing we've noticed, again it's almost a cultural thing, with the younger kids it tends to be … that they want to represent themselves extremely well with their peers and they want to engage with the kids at the other end and they want to make friends with them and all of that, it's like cosy and comfortable. The older kids initially they feel they want to be a bit more aloof, a bit more sophisticated, certainly cool, and that's the big thing that came out with this connection with Israel. What was interesting was initially we worked with Year 9 kids here and they were working with kids who were two years older than our kids and their kids did not want to talk to our kids. They thought it was really beneath them to talk to these little kids who were two years younger them. The whole 'cool' thing was a real problem. Lead teacher, EAZ May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 47 of 104
  • 48. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Returning to the discussion of gender difference, another teacher suggested that this was more of an issue for boys than girls. Boys, as they get a bit older they're a little bit more reticent. But they are very receptive to the technology. The girls will perform anyway most of the time. Teacher-user, Secondary School With ability, some teachers noted that the motivating effects of being involved in video conferencing had a positive outcome for disengaged or challenging pupils: 'I think you have to be all-singing and all-dancing for them … so to be able to get something like a video conference that they can get a lot out of …. their speaking and listening skills have come on." (Lead Teacher, Secondary). Another lead teacher, here speaking about Y6 pupils, felt that video conferencing was especially beneficial for the special educational needs (SEN) children in a colleague’s class. There are a lot of children in that class with special needs and with attention difficulties, but actually those children, although not always appearing to, were when the questions were asked, were putting their hands up to answer. Lead teacher, Junior School However, the motivating effects of video conferencing were recorded for all levels of ability, including gifted and talented pupils, who benefited from e-masterclasses (Lead Teacher, Learning Centre) and engaging in higher level discussions with experts (Teacher-user, Primary). 6.5 Teaching styles Despite some examples of innovative practice, the impact of video conferencing on teaching styles was not yet as marked as some teachers predicted or claimed. The majority of teachers argued that it was too early to identify how they would change in response to the opportunities afforded by video conferencing. Most of the teachers involved were still at an early stage of exploration with the technology, but were beginning to identify pedagogical issues they faced in developing ways of working with remote others (Headteacher, Special). The teacher's role? - yes because the teacher is no longer the person pointing and saying things to them, the teacher's the facilitator and a coach and they like that relationship because you're not directing the children, you're supporting their learning Teacher-user, Secondary There was a recognition however, that the full potential of the technology had not been reached and that, as new ways of working with remote others emerged, they would have to re-think some of their assumptions about their teaching styles: After a video conferencing sessions, I think it makes them think about how they could change things and how they could do a video conferencing session. Initially, it's a matter of 'oh, do it like an ordinary lesson' and then suddenly you can't do it as an ordinary lesson. Lead teacher, Secondary 6.6 Phase differences In Section 5 we suggested that while certain subjects might superficially lend themselves more naturally to video conferencing activities than others, the evaluation findings indicate that not only were there were no areas of the curriculum which could not find a use for the technology but that additional (and often unanticipated) benefits accrued through its use. Much the same can be said for its use in different educational phases. Some issues, such as security/child protection, were generally more of a concern the younger the child, although most schools had taken steps to ensure safety and to reassure parents. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 48 of 104
  • 49. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project The smaller budget and more restricted space of primary schools compared to their secondary partners had implications for the purchase and location of equipment, as well as connectivity costs. As we note later in the report, technical support was also more problematic for some primary schools. However, in terms of the ways in which video conferencing was used or in the potential benefits it brought about, teachers in all phases tended to raise similar points. Thus while confidence in public speaking was more likely to be reported as a problem by teachers of younger children, this was also an issue for some older students. Moreover, as we have also noted, such difficulties were generally overcome with greater familiarity with the technology. The ease with which the technology could be used also meant that teachers felt confident in the abilities of young children to operate the system. The less departmentalised curriculum of the primary school lends itself more to cross-curricular activities of the type described in various sections of this report, but in terms of video conferencing affording a curriculum ‘fit’, it served the secondary sector equally well. Access to a Cambridge physics lecturer for a 6th Form group observed in a West Country secondary school was no less valuable in terms of learning potential than was a session with a children’s author talking about story book characters with Y2 pupils in a nearby primary school. As with ICT more generally therefore, most of the pertinent key-stage or phase issues in relation to the use of video conferencing were about matching the use of the technology to the stage of development and ability of the child, rather than the technology itself. 6.7 Summary In terms of the models of use proposed in Section 4, the technology was mainly used for substitution or enhancement. This is not to say, of course, that there were no cases of video conferencing use that we would categorise as adaptive, indeed there were many examples of an innovative approach, some of which are documented in this report. Even the more commonly encountered uses described above, however, reflected a degree of curriculum ‘embedded-ness’ that is often not found with ICT more generally. What was notable in this regard was that compared to the more general use of computer technology, the ‘learning curve’ for video conferencing was much less steep, and the move from ‘novice’ to ‘experienced user’ a much shorter and less difficult journey. We suggest that a key factor here is the relative ‘transparency’ of the technology. That is to say, that despite initial resistance from some teachers to engage with video conferencing, the simplicity of its use in comparison with computer technology enabled teachers to focus on curriculum integration much sooner. As one headteacher put it ‘If you can use a phone, you can use video conferencing’. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 49 of 104
  • 50. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 7 Strategic issues Key findings of this section • The integration of video conferencing into programmes of study was at an early stage, but was seen by management as essential for impacting on achievement. • Some subjects seemed more amenable to a sustained use of video conferencing, but all subjects could benefit. • The spread of video conferencing into all curriculum areas needed a strong steer from school development policies. • The financial implications of a widespread use of video conferencing were large. • Guidance was needed for schools on the optimum equipment at affordable prices. • A national policy on video conferencing was needed to push forward the benefits. 7 Introduction The introduction of video conferencing capability into schools raises a number of strategic issues for management teams. The ease of using the technology, which we noted in the previous section, makes the likely demand for access to video conferencing large, once the 'word has spread'. The reality of video conferencing as observed by the research team was that much of the use was exploratory and 'bolt-on' rather than integrated into school practice curriculum. This was so in two senses. Firstly, the number of teachers who were using video conferencing was a small proportion of the staff. Even for 'experienced' sites, the use of video conferencing tended to be confined to certain curriculum areas and/or one or two 'enthusiasts'. Secondly, as teachers were at an early stage in developing their use of video conferencing, they tended to take any opportunity or ideas presented to them and explore these, rather than working from the needs of the curriculum. The main issues therefore to be considered are the integration of video conferencing opportunities into the curriculum, how to spread video conferencing beyond a few champions into the rest of the school and how to sustain and extend provision in institutions hungry for all sorts of ICT provision. 7.1 Integration One of the key issues that emerged from our interviews with Principals and teachers was the need to use video conferencing in a seamless way with the curriculum being followed. If done well and in a planned and structured way, I think it (video conferencing) can have a strong impact on student learning….. This is different (from TV) because we have interaction, but it will only be significant if it's put in a structured way and it's done in a very planned way. Lead teacher, Learning Centre The opportunistic approach to video conferencing was generally acknowledged by the teachers to be exciting, but ultimately unsatisfactory in terms of achieving learning outcomes for their pupils (Teacher-user, Secondary). In a number of schools, video conferencing had been used to achieve specific learning outcomes defined, for example, by the National 11 Curriculum. In one case the Attainment Target of 'using persuasive language' was used in a Year 6 class to prepare and present a case to a remote other (Primary school video 11 This lesson is described in detail in 4.3.2, Exemplar Model 2 May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 50 of 104
  • 51. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project conference observation). The emphasis was on speaking clearly and without recourse to local dialect, so that the pupils could be understood. Framing the video conference in this way, giving the pupils time to prepare along these lines and debriefing the students (by teacher and peer assessment) ensured the successful meeting of this target by nearly all the pupils. However, this was only one aspect of the programme of study and the next step was seen as extending video conferencing into other aspects of the English National Curriculum. Many of the teachers, having tried out video conferencing, intended to plan a more systematic use for the future (Teacher-user, Primary). This was recognised as involving a deal of forward planning, especially where remote experts were involved, as it would be necessary to fix a time where the expert was available at a time appropriate for the stage in the curriculum. School to school links would also need high levels of forward planning to mesh timetables and curricula. This would be exacerbated with international contacts. In some curriculum areas, integration was seen as essential for the most effective use of the technology. This was most notable in a Language College, where the emphasis on speaking a foreign language went beyond pupils studying for particular language examinations (Headteacher, Secondary). To gain access to foreign language speakers through video conferencing requires systematic contact, planned at both the near and remote end, with an awareness of the curriculum demands of all the participants and careful forward planning to ensure that all these needs are met. This will require a great deal of co-ordination and time within a school and between schools and other participating institutions. Strategies to integrate video conferencing into curriculum areas are various. Some schools rely on the enthusiasm of champions, who having seen what it can do are keen to spread video conferencing into their schemes of work (Primary school). Others use ICT personnel to check on proposals to use video conferencing and to identify opportunities that subject teachers might miss, so that a more focused and less bolt-on provision is made (EAZ). There was however little evidence of whole school policies yet being developed that required the integration of video conferencing into upcoming curriculum plans. This was either because some principals had to be convinced of the effectiveness of video conferencing as an important vehicle for the delivery of a curriculum area, or they were concerned that, having signalled the importance of video conferencing for enthusing and motivating pupils of all ages, they would be unable to meet demands for access across the whole curriculum. 7.2 Mainstreaming A related issue for managers in schools was how to spread the use of video conferencing beyond the confines of a few enthusiasts into other curriculum areas and the wider life of the school. While the attractiveness of video conferencing to the enthusiasts is strong and teachers who come into contact with it are intrigued by its possibilities, the spread of video conferencing into the mainstream of school activity is seen as likely to be medium-term rather than immediate. I guess our mistake was, in our blind enthusiasm for it, was that everybody would be as tuned in and as enthusiastic as we were and by putting equipment in, offering them the conference, that was it, we'd solved it. We've come to the conclusion that it's longer term than that. Lead teacher, EAZ The experience of one champion (Teacher-user, Secondary) was instructive here. She was a relatively long-term user who had involved several others in activities, but the level of activity had suddenly exploded. The teacher attributed this to a 'drip-drip' process leading to a realisation amongst the rest of the staff that not only was it something that they could introduce into their teaching, but also that it was easy to use. The sharing of ideas with other teachers about potential uses of video conferencing was especially important here. There is otherwise a danger in relying on a champion to cascade the use of video conferencing to others, that is, the vacuum that may be left if that champion leaves the school (key personnel syndrome), taking the knowledge and expertise with them, as was the case in one of the May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 51 of 104
  • 52. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Secondary schools in the evaluation. The school had recognised this, however, and was taking active steps to resolve it: I guess just looking for any opportunity to do video conferencing [and to] gain the experience and for the school to get other staff involved so it isn't a mystery […] Headteacher, Secondary School Few schools were at the stage where they were ready to include the development of video conferencing in their School Development Plan. Video conferencing was rarely built into ICT planning or policy - partly because it was relatively new, but also because it is often seen as outside of 'mainstream' ICT. There was one notable example however. The management of one of the Primary schools, in consultation with staff, had made video conferencing the prime focus for the year's development. Built into the processes for the year was the requirement that each teacher should identify, plan and deliver one video conferencing event every half term. This would be monitored and evaluated by an agreed team of teachers. As the Head commented: My ultimate hope when we adopt this as embedded into strategy is that it doesn’t become additionality, it becomes integral to teachers’ delivery of the curriculum.’ Headteacher, Primary School A middling strategy was to recruit one teacher from each year group as a champion and finding them time to develop and embed video conferencing into their practice. One aspect of mainstreaming that seemed to attract the more commercially minded Lead Teachers in schools was the desire to offer video conferencing facilities to the wider community in much the same way that schools and community colleges are opening up ICT facilities. In this case, however, this was at a price. The hope was that, by offering services to local groups, some income might be generated to sustain developments in this area. Early attempts in one school had not proved particularly lucrative, however: We have semi-marketed our video conferencing facility but with minimal success so far. Lead teacher, Learning Centre Part of the difficulty here is the relative lack of people or places with the facilities to 'conference with’ for this kind of social use. As video conferencing becomes more of a mainstream technology, there may be an associated growth in interest in this kind of community provision. Thus while these early attempts may not have 'paid off' financially, it may yet represent a potential way forward both in terms of revenue raising (perhaps a way of recouping the cost of the equipment) and as part of a widening participation remit. 7.3 Sustainability In examining issues of sustainability, the main problem presented by Principals and teachers was a concern that a rapidly increased demand for video conferencing facilities would lead to unsupportable claims for new or more expensive equipment and increased bandwidth. The aspirations of those teachers who had been exposed to video conferencing would aggravate that anxiety, though there was recognition that money would not be automatically available: The finance is obviously going to be a big issue because it’s got to get embedded in the whole system, then you’ve got to find a way to get the money into the schools for buying the kit. Headteacher, Primary School The ‘kit’ was recognised to be much wider than just a webcam or a portable video unit. As well as peripherals such as document cameras, the wish list for many schools included a May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 52 of 104
  • 53. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project dedicated video conferencing room equipped to the highest specifications, as well as portables, or a series of video conferencing facilities located in departmental hubs (Lead Teacher, Secondary). Having said this, the financial and organisational difficulties that might be brought about by expansion of facilities were almost always associated with the positive appeal of video conferencing projects in schools. For example, when asked to consider a scenario where the equipment might be taken away, all schools said that they would 'find the money from somewhere', even if it meant having to downgrade to lower specification technology. Issues raised by many of the teachers as well as technical personnel involved in video conferencing included the need for a nationally or regionally co-ordinated approach to connectivity, firewall security in relation to video conferencing and ease of access to possible partners through a central directory service. Most looked to government for a strong steer on these issues so that the technical aspects of video conferencing became as straightforward as switching on a television or dialling up a partner. Despite recognition that a commitment from government to invest widely and deeply in this technology would be expensive, many teachers remained sceptical of the seriousness of government, local and national, in supporting video conferencing: There seems to be very little from the government out there to say ‘this is happening, get this going’ … If we can prove that video conferencing affects student achievement they’ll fund it, but we’ve got to prove it. It’s always a catch 22. Headteacher, Secondary School If I had a wish for this year, (it) would be for somebody in the government to get their act together and say, 'this is how we are going to do video conferencing via IP and we're going to set it all up and all you have to do as a school is go through the internet, log onto the website, register your school and hey presto! Lead teacher, Secondary School The (local) authority has not given us any kind of help, they've left it to us'. Teacher-user, Secondary School At this time the government has not identified a clear guidance for schools in relation to video conferencing technology. In the absence of this guidance from government, some schools, LEAs and RBCs were seeking to make their own local, regional or national arrangements, for example, through the kind of services offered by the Project/Global Leap, which has begun to address some of these issues through working with colleagues around the country to identify and celebrate good practice, as well as identify the barriers to success. In many cases it is individual schools that become the lead centre for a local consortium of schools. Some schools look to the local authority for regional video conferencing services, or are waiting for firmer guidance from the national government. They were holding off, because of the financial consequences of making a wrong decision (Headteacher, Learning Centre). May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 53 of 104
  • 54. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 8 Affordances 12 and barriers to video conferencing use Key findings of this section • Most of the teachers found video conferencing technology to be relatively simple and accessible. • Compared to alternative means of communicating with others, video conferencing offered an economical way of maintaining external links. • Support from senior staff was seen as essential for successful implementation. • Feelings of self-consciousness by staff and students can quickly be overcome through careful briefing and preparation for video conferencing. • Continuity of personnel involved is an important factor in maintaining developments in video conferencing. • While most systems were very robust, technical support is important in improving the quality of the experience. 8 Introduction Across case study and non case study schools, clear views on facilitating and challenging factors to video conferencing emerged. This section of the report outlines the range of affordances (facilitating factors) identified across primary and secondary schools involved in the study. Barriers to the development of video conferencing in schools are also reported. 8.1 Affordances Within the present study, a number of factors were seen to smooth the process of video conferencing. Across schools, staff identified the following major affordances to video conferencing in schools. 12 ‘Affordances are the properties of a system […] which allow certain actions to be performed and which encourage specific types of behaviour’ (Cox et al., 2003:8). May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 54 of 104
  • 55. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 8.1.1 Enthusiasts In many of the schools included in the study, it was clear that video conferencing was channelled through particular individuals, in the absence of a school strategy to develop the resource or activity. These individuals had identified a potential use for video conferencing and expended time and commitment to bring it to fruition. Through drawing on opportune contacts and seeking technical advice, individual enthusiasts drove the development of video conferencing in a number of schools in the study. … What I did do was say I'll set up some video conferencing because I'm interested in seeing what this technology can do because I think looking at the future this is something that is going to become really important and I don't even know where I'd seen it or used it before then and where this had quite come from. Lead teacher, EAZ 8.1.2 Usability of technology It was considered vital that technological demands of video conferencing should be extremely light in order to allow teachers to focus on teaching and learning issues as teachers were reluctant to spend long periods learning how to use new technology and responding to any attendant difficulties. In fact, video conferencing technology was considered by most of the teachers to be relatively simple and accessible. Technical demands were alleviated for a number of schools where support was available to assist with the set-up of equipment and in some schools technical support was provided throughout a video conference. Technical support, coupled with teachers' discovery that the technology was relatively uncomplicated, combined to counterbalance technophobia and facilitated an opportunity for teachers to focus on the teaching and learning implications and potential of video conferencing. I think it's drip drip drip to be honest, they know that I've been doing it for a long time and I've tried to involve other staff in it and gradually people are beginning to realise that this is something that they can use and they want to use it. So I just think it's a case of people getting over that initial fear, "oh we're going to be on the television" which is a load of rubbish really, but people do worry about that and they worry about the technology, well I couldn't care less about the technology, someone else can sort that out I can see just how valuable it is to the kids. Lead teacher, Secondary School 8.1.3 Financial benefits Video conferencing equipment was considered to require a substantial outlay and this was a major concern for all schools where money was limited. However, despite the initial expense of equipment, it was seen to have cost-saving potential for teaching and learning activity as well as in the area of continuing professional development for staff. Savings were made through setting up video conferencing links to public spaces such as galleries and museums, often London-based: I just think it would be really helpful to do more. […] I think sometimes you can’t actually get staff arranged to cover so I think it’d be great to do even more link-ups. (Interviewer: It enables you to May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 55 of 104
  • 56. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project get to experts, to get to [paintings] without all of the hassles?) Yes, and also without the costs. (Although there is a cost of video conferencing? ) There is but some of the pupils definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to go. Teacher-user, Secondary School Those schools with students from low-income families recognised the financial advantages of video conferencing, as transport and admission costs made trips prohibitively high for some. Supply costs for all of the teachers accompanying students on trips were also saved. In these circumstances, video conferencing was seen to be a highly economical alternative. Maintaining links through video conferencing with overseas schools and institutions was also affordable compared to normal travel and accommodation costs of exchange trips. Further, video conferencing had the potential to allow more frequent links and perhaps an improvement in the quality of contact. Video conferencing also proved cost-effective for schools purchasing remotely delivered courses. Schools managed to offer students a wider selection of courses than their normal provision allowed. In this way schools were able to retain the students who might have gone elsewhere and schools also kept the funding attached to retained students. Not all schools purchased equipment outright, some borrowed from the LEA and others shared the cost of equipment between local schools. A number of schools also obtained equipment on loan by dint of their involvement in the Project. 8.1.4 Senior management support In most of the schools in the project, video conferencing received a high level of support from Headteachers and was often co-ordinated by Deputy Headteachers: About a year ago, 18 months ago, I understood in a cupboard far, far away there was a box with video conferencing in so that's how it started and nobody had any passwords or anything like that. I guess because of the position I'm in I could make something happen because I'm Vice Principal, if I was a normal classroom teacher it may be more difficult. Lead teacher, Secondary School Support from senior staff was especially important where there was student or staff resistance to video conferencing, or for example, where parents were concerned about the security issues surrounding video conferencing or where teachers were reluctant to participate in video conferencing activity. Senior support was also important to securing ongoing financial resources for video conferencing. The cost of upgrading equipment and maintaining ISDN rental was funded in a variety of ways across schools but all were reliant on the support of senior staff to release funding for operating costs. The equipment has now been upgraded from a phone to a proper set up, also free of charge on loan from (the Project) […] There is a specific ISDN line charge now that we've gone Broadband and that works out at £900 a year including call costs but we've actually included that within our school budget because we want to carry on with the video conferencing. Teacher-user, Primary School In one or two schools, video conferencing formed an integral part of school development plans embracing an aim to develop ICT in school or as an important dimension to citizenship education. In these instances, video conferencing had a high level of senior support and legitimacy. 8.1.5 Identifying links Schools often used a number of resources to develop video conferencing links. This included the services available free to the schools via DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 56 of 104
  • 57. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Project/www.global-leap.com. Links arranged directly for the evaluation schools by the Project included Lyon, Brest and Rodez in France, Bamberg and Buchloe in Germany, Finland, Johannesburg, Chicago and New York and Jamaica. Other links were made through the British Council, long-established links with local schools, development of links across Action Zones and Excellence clusters, as well as further development of international links with twinned cities, or schools overseas which they had previously exchanged with or had used older technologies to communicate with. Language Colleges in particular had strong European and international links that they were keen to explore further. Once schools began video conferencing, they quickly developed a sense of purpose in terms of links they would like to pursue in an attempt to advance specific teaching and learning aims. We have an ongoing project here with a school in the Ngev Desert in Israel and that's been fascinating over the last year with what's been happening locally for them. We have a lot of links with Chicago, Birmingham's a sister city with Chicago and I think it's fair to say that over the last 18 months those links have not been as strong as they were in the past and what we're interested in is resurrecting those links and we see video conferencing as being a particularly powerful way of doing that. Lead teacher, EAZ Teachers were also keen to learn more about how to find and develop links with other schools and organisations. Unfortunately, it was often found that potential partners did not have the capacity to link with one another due to incompatible systems or an absence of video conferencing facilities. The Project team is working to create a network of local or national information on school video conferencing facilities to help to establish video conferencing links more quickly and easily. 8.1.6 Expert support for selection and installation of equipment Technical support was especially welcome, as schools often had no experience to draw upon. Advice concerning the most suitable connection, appropriate monitors, audio equipment and software was of particular concern. Technical support staff and teachers often did not have the expertise to make decisions about cable installation or to select equipment. As a result, one school had used a private company to advise on appropriate equipment type, only to find that the equipment had quickly become obsolete, while another found that equipment could not perform at the capacity suggested. Consequently, sound independent advice was especially valued. Dissemination of information and advice to schools is a major remit of the Project team, which aimed to give clear unbiased advice and warn schools of the pitfalls. In terms of developing use of video conferencing, many teachers were also grateful for support in going through options as to where to locate equipment and how to arrange rooms to maximise the visual experience of the conference. 8.1.7 Expert support for ‘functional’ matters and training The DfES Project/www.global-leap.com was mentioned by many of the evaluation schools as a useful ‘one-stop-shop’, acting as a portal to a range of video conferences with public bodies such as the National Archive and various Museums, galleries and international projects. The development of these programmes has been carried out in parallel with the schools programme. They were also able to provide advice concerning the technical aspects of video conferencing such as suitable types of connectivity and audio and visual equipment. The Project Team also offered 'My first video conference' sessions, an introductory session designed to take teachers and pupils through the basics of video conferencing. A similar service was also offered by those schools involved in Motivate projects. The team provided technical support and system testing, as well as general advice on appropriate siting and use of equipment. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 57 of 104
  • 58. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 8.1.8 Curriculum support The Team also provided guidance to teachers identifying opportunities within the curriculum for video conferencing activities. This involved not only knowledge of the curriculum itself, but also of potential links with partner schools, as the following quote illustrates. What happens is, you know the subject it would be say Geography mountains, and I’d say well one possible link would be to a school in New Zealand which I know has video cameras and document cameras and the students have experience of walking in the mountains and the students from the UK can talk to students in New Zealand about walking in mountainous regions and the students in New Zealand can show photos, talk about their experiences in the mountains in that sense so it’s not just experts but it’s also peers as well. Teacher adviser, Project team As noted elsewhere in this report, the support offered by the Team extended to staff in galleries and museums, so that they were involved in every stage and aspect of a school’s video conferencing activities, from first steps through to supporting and training both users and providers. The Team’s support and guidance was regarded by many of the schools as critical to the development of an effective programme of activities. Without [the Team adviser] we couldn't have happened. He's lent us the equipment, he's done the training, he's in and out when we need support. I keep him briefed of what we're doing. We went over to do the planning together with him. What we were trying to do was join it all up and it has actually worked […] So without [the adviser] doing that - it was sort of an exchange of information and he made it happen. He’s been very key to it all. Lead teacher, Middle School 8.1.9 Video conferencing ‘etiquette’ The use of email, ‘chatrooms’ and online discussion forums has resulted in the recognition of the need for communication protocols (in the non-technical sense of the word) which come under the umbrella term ‘netiquette’. While these vary somewhat from technology to technology, this generally refers to a set of mutually agreed rules governing acceptable use of a medium. Video conferencing has its own etiquette, and while this to a large extent follows conventional rules of conversational exchange, certain features of both the technology and the contexts in which it is used require the development of ‘tele-presence skills’. As with any form of interaction, all parties need to be aware of and confident with such skills if communication is to ‘work’. The greater the number of participants, the greater the need for clear rules to govern communication. In terms of more conventional guidance on conduct during a video conference, schools tended to impress on students that they were representing their school to the outside world, emphasising the need for appropriate behaviour. Students generally respected this, and in some cases were said to behave better than they might in a normal lesson, particularly in the case of international links, and those with outside experts. One explanation for this may be that these two conditions invoked in the students a greater sense of ‘inviting’ others into their classroom, a theory which was confirmed by pupils in a primary school, who (despite this being their first video conferencing experience) had been aware of the need to speak slowly and carefully to their Polish ‘guests’ (who were, after just 20 minutes of interaction, described as friends) in order that they be understood. 8.2 Barriers Most schools in the study emerged with a strong base of video conferencing activity and a growth in teacher confidence to arrange, prepare and mediate a video conference. However, May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 58 of 104
  • 59. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project a number of barriers to video conferencing were identified, although most proved to be penetrable by staff who often found practical solutions to initial difficulties. 8.2.1 Costs of set-up and operation The initial start-up costs of video conferencing were high, but this was frequently offset by special funding arrangements and grants aimed at developing ICT infrastructure and delivery. At the moment it's funded by Beacon School but in two years time our Beacon funding runs out so we would only be able to do it if we then got the funding. Headteacher, Secondary School Video conferences offered by the Project were free to schools, whereas headteachers reported that the price charged by some commercial providers was not always cheap. This was compounded by the limit put on student numbers for video conferences operated by organisations other than schools. Sometimes this limit was as low as nine or ten. As class sizes were usually in excess of this, this proved to be an expensive way of teaching. It also meant that students did not have equal access to the experience and could also lead to practical difficulties of what to do with the remaining portion of the class. 8.2.2 Resistance Some teachers were reluctant to engage in video conferencing because of reservations about the quality of the experience and whether this provided added value beyond that provided by the traditional classroom experience. Teachers had to be persuaded that the level of preparation and additional practical arrangements associated with the conference were worthwhile. Initially it's very difficult to actually convince them that it's a benefit because in their belief it takes a lot of their time to set it up, especially if your video conferencing with a foreign country because there's a lot of telephone calls, emails, to set up the time, to remember the time difference and all the rest of it. And also you have to plan a lesson that not only fulfils your own criteria but also fulfils the other school's criteria as well. […] But having said that, the ones who have actually done video conferencing […] invariably want to do it again because once they've done it and seen the advantages and benefits to the pupils then I think that encourages them to go and do it again Lead teacher, Secondary School To overcome this, co-ordinators often encouraged teachers to sit in on their video conferencing sessions. … Our opinion is now quite clearly that we need to hand-hold in the first instance, that it's not sufficient to give people a list of "you can contact NASA, you can contact Melbourne Zoo, the Anne Frank Museum", because they'll look at it and say yes, we can do all those things, but there has to be something more in it for them than that and there is that hesitancy as to where is this bit of equipment in our school and who's going to set it up for me, and what are the time-tabling implications because we only use it in a certain room in the school. There's got to be a huge motive for them to actually work their way through that convinced that at the end of it it's going to have been worthwhile. Lead teacher, EAZ Staff, as well as student resistance to video conferencing, sometimes stemmed from self- consciousness. In order to circumvent this, one school provided staff support to develop presentation skills and self-projection in a video conferencing context. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 59 of 104
  • 60. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Students also reported initial feelings of self-consciousness because of the visual and interactive nature of video conferencing sessions: The worst thing was asking questions. Pupil, Special School It takes a bit of time to get used to the system, and people can be shy of using it at first. Pupil, Secondary School This was largely overcome as students became accustomed to the medium: The pupils are intrigued by the set up. They are actually much more confident in using it. They are initially embarrassed as all children are when they see themselves on television but they overcome that very quickly. They seem far less inhibited than adults in actually using the system and they seem technically to be slightly more aware as well than adults. Lead teacher, Secondary school I learnt how to build my confidence by talking to people I didn’t know. Pupil, Primary School Some schools used an ‘in-house’ approach, which was reported to be very effective at building confidence in students (and indeed teachers) who were anxious about talking to camera. For example, a language college, which had two video conferencing set-ups located in different parts of the school, used this advantage to good effect in the training of teachers and students in appropriate video conferencing procedures (something they were also considering offering to other local schools). In one observed session, this arrangement facilitated a contingency plan to be put into action when a modern foreign language exchange was postponed at the last moment. The planned lesson was adapted by dividing the class into two, with one half carrying on as planned, while the other half played the role of their remote partners from the other video conferencing room. However, for a small number of students in other schools, the visual and interactive nature of this medium continued to present a challenge. Serious resistance from students to video conferencing was encountered in one of the case study schools. For anyone undertaking this kind of thing I would recommend that they see it from the student's point of view, both from the point of view of the person at the other end of the video conferencing line and also from the point of view of the students in the class because I had not realised that there was quite so much resentment really with regards to the video conferencing among certain students. Teacher-user, Secondary School Students perceived that video conferencing sessions were impeding their learning, as the attention of their teacher was being shared with a remote student. Parents of these students were also suspicious of the quality of the learning experience where video conferencing required one classroom teacher to effectively teach two groups at the same time. Anything that is out of the ordinary in terms of exams, parents don't want to know. It's the parents that we have to persuade as well […] there was a lot of work with parents. Lead teacher, Secondary School Support from the Headteacher was extremely important in addressing criticism from students and parents. The Headteacher was confident that the standard of teaching and learning that was taking place was not undermined by video conferencing. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 60 of 104
  • 61. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 8.2.3 'Key personnel' syndrome Video conferencing was championed in most schools by one or two key individuals. However, there was a danger in many of these schools that the growing experience and expertise of these members of staff was not being dispersed across the staff and could easily be lost if key people moved out of the school. This was evident in a small number of schools where key people moved on during the course of the study and there was no replacement to continue with video conferencing links or to speak informatively about the progress and activity that had previously taken place. 8.2.4 Technical barriers Technical difficulties were commonly reported across schools. The most common problems were related to audio and visual problems or connection difficulties. In many schools, technical support was not available during a conference and in a small minority of schools, technical support was bought in on a periodic basis to deal with system maintenance issues and the catalogue of problems collected since the last visit. Consequently, there was little capacity to respond immediately to technical hitches. For a more detailed discussion on the impact of technical factors, please refer to Section 9. 8.2.5 Child protection A minority of parents feared that video conferencing could compromise the safety of their children. Teachers were generally able to allay such fears by providing parents with a clear understanding of the video conferencing process and the various measures undertaken by schools to address issues of personal security. 8.3 Specific factors determining the effectiveness of a video conference This concerns additional issues that do not fall neatly into ‘affordances’ or ‘barriers’, but which nevertheless represent key factors that influence the educational effectiveness of a video conferencing session. 8.3.1 Planning and organisation Pre-conference preparation As already noted, thorough pre-conference preparation is a prerequisite of a successful and effective conference. Two issues are especially pertinent here. Firstly, the involvement of at least one other person at another site immediately introduces an additional level of complexity to the learning process. Where conferences were not sufficiently well prepared, their effectiveness was significantly diminished. Secondly, as many teachers told us, the amount of effort that communicating, negotiating and planning with a remote partner involves can be an extremely time-consuming process. These two factors coalesce, as a Lead Teacher in a secondary school explained. Each conference (a series of class-class English/German exchanges) was planned meticulously with her counterpart in the German partner school. To do so they used a combination of email, telephone and video conferencing itself to make these arrangements. These negotiations often took place outside of working hours (indeed on occasions outside of the working week) and were sometimes followed by post-conference ‘diagnostic’ communications. As in a number of other schools that had an international partner school, these two teachers visited one another in their respective countries to strengthen and further develop links between the two. While by no means all teachers reported this level of involvement, it is clear that not only is careful and detailed preparation at all sites involved in a conference essential, May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 61 of 104
  • 62. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project but that regular communication and clear agreement between partners is critical to the effectiveness of a conference. Rehearsal Another important aspect of conference planning is the preparation of the participants themselves. Both teachers and pupils need to be comfortable and confident with the process, and so several schools intentionally went through a process of rehearsal or practice prior to the conference proper. This ranged from learning basic video conferencing technique - the essential protocols of video conferencing exchanges - to full-blown rehearsals of questions, presentations and so on prior to linking up with the far-end site. In some cases, this could prove to be as engaging as the ‘real thing’, as in the example below where the teacher describes how he prepared his students for a link with Turkey by conferencing with them from an adjoining room: A little kid comes up (to the microphone) and he said ‘Do you have old buildings in Turkey?’ and I said ‘Yes, they have lots of old buildings in Turkey, that's a really good question, well done, I'm sure you'll get some fascinating answers to that.’ Then the next one comes up and asks ‘Do you have bananas in Turkey?’ and I said ‘That's a good question. did you look up bananas?’ and she said ‘I looked on the internet and it said they had green bananas in Turkey’….then the next one came up and she said ‘Why is Turkey called Turkey?’ …. (after it was over) I went back in and I said ‘Where do you think I've just been’? and they said ‘Turkey’. They really thought I'd just been to Turkey. So in terms of preparation, I mean, how much further can you go? Teacher-user, Secondary 8.3.2 Influence of far-end personnel School personnel While we observed a number of highly successful and effective conferences, we also encountered others in which a failure to address properly certain organisational issues limited that effectiveness. One issue that emerged from the evaluation as critical in this regard was that an effective conference is highly dependent on the quality and skills of the far-end teacher. Unlike a regular classroom, the involvement of two or more teachers necessitates prior decisions about roles. The importance of this is illustrated by the comments of one teacher who, when asked about her role in a conference involving a remote tutor, said that she ‘felt like a student’ herself. She had wanted to alert the speaker to the fact that the pupils wanted to ask questions, but did not feel it appropriate to interrupt an ‘expert’. Prior discussion could have avoided this, as another remote tutor indicated, suggesting that the session was more effective when the class teacher at the far-end took an active, rather than merely observational or ‘housekeeping’ role. In this arrangement, the video conference becomes much more akin to team-teaching than the usual ‘one teacher one class’ model. Teachers at each site need to be clear about their role in leading his or her own group, but also of any potential interaction with the remote group/s. These roles include facilitator, mediator, tutor and observer. While all of these are part of the teacher’s pedagogical repertoire, the synchronous nature of the interaction in particular means that lack of agreement on who will take which role can lead to an unsatisfactory experience. Expert organisations Establishing clarity of structure, content and roles is clearly essential in the many-to-many model described in 4.2, which presented a complex mix of potential interactions. In the one- to-many model which typified many of the conferences observed in the evaluation, these factors – though equally important – were often less foregrounded, partly because there was May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 62 of 104
  • 63. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project less scope for such complexity. Many of the conferences which involved galleries and museums for example – the ‘remote expert’ approach – were heavily dependent on the remote provider for both content and structure. Moreover such sessions (as in Exemplar Model 1, see paragraph 4.3.2) were similar to traditional teacher-class patterns of interaction. This was generally confirmed in interview with five of the organisations that offer video conferences as part of their educational remit, as well as in opportunistic discussions with remote experts and tutors during observational visits. The Museums and galleries provision has been developed as part of the DfES Project. The practical help and support and equipment loans they have received through the Project have enabled them to begin to develop a range of activities linked to the programmes of study in the National Curriculum. In many cases there was little of no budget available from the education departments at the museum and galleries involved. They have relied on their education department staff to work to introduce video conferencing technology and they also rely on the support and feedback from the schools that join the sessions to help them improve and develop their skills as video conference presenters. In most cases what was on offer was a more or less a standard ‘menu’ of video conferencing opportunities. While these were mapped against National Curriculum objectives, they represented an ‘off-the-shelf’ package, which made relatively few allowances for the individual needs of a school. Although all providers contacted were prepared to do some ‘tweaking’ of the programme in negotiation with the teacher, time and resources did not allow for a more tailored session (although some providers did make available resource packs prior to the conference). Only one of the providers felt it important for students to have prior knowledge of the subject, with the remainder mainly concerned about technical arrangements (suitability of equipment, location of system and so on). Thus while teachers still needed to prepare students for these sessions, the degree of prior planning required fell much less hard on the receiving school than in other approaches. In this regard, such conferences represented a fairly ‘secure’ model that may be especially appropriate for schools beginning to explore the potential of video conferencing. Having done so, schools may then be better placed to move on to more ‘open’ projects. In terms of assessing the effectiveness of such conferences, most providers relied on informal evaluations, such as the perceived level of involvement of the students. This was described by one in terms of ‘going beyond the technology’, that is where there had been evidence of creative thinking, incisive questioning and genuine engagement with the subject matter. Examples given here included pupils’ understanding the implications of gas attack (past and future) extrapolating from being shown different models of WW2 gas masks, and pupils of different ethnic backgrounds in London (some of whom were refugees) identifying strongly with the war time experiences of Ann Frank. Most providers were aware of the potential for improved delivery. These included issues relating to the technology (eg, the need for better technical preparation in schools, higher specification equipment and/or connectivity), the curriculum (eg, developing more and better- quality advance materials), communication (eg, making video conferencing more interactive) and evaluation (eg, online feedback). There is an issue here, however, which relates to the future expansion of video conferencing across a greater number of schools. While this approach represents a relatively straightforward educationally- and cost-effective use of video conferencing, many of the providers were already close to capacity. Although most said that they could cope with a modest degree of expansion with existing resources, any further development might introduce 13 a need for changes in present policy and the possibility of introducing a charge . If schools are to continue to have access to this kind of service, then consideration needs to be given to the provision of additional resources for such agencies. With the success of the pilot projects, 13 Currently most services are cost-free to schools May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 63 of 104
  • 64. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project some of the museum and gallery education departments have been able to identify additional staff and funding for the next financial year, but it is important that they continue to receive practical support, training and advice to develop their programmes if they are to develop further as effective providers 8.3.3 Negotiating roles: Teachers While the preceding factors largely refer to the interaction between conference participants (in most cases, students) it is clear that effective communication in a video conference is even more dependent on those responsible for facilitating it (in most cases teachers or other adults). The presence of a remote audience or expert can change teaching styles for both remote and home teachers, as well as have an impact on teacher-student relationships. As explained earlier, where two or more classes are involved teachers at each site need to be clear about not only to their role in leading his or her own group. The following examples illustrate some of the difficulties that can be encountered where a lack of role clarity exists: This was a three-way conference which involved a rural primary school in the west country and a second primary school located in London. The two schools were linked to the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam as part of their history studies. A lack of clarity about who would assume the role of facilitating the discussion led to considerable confusion during the early part of the conference. For example, when the tutor (an education officer) at the Ann Frank House asked the children questions it was not made clear to which school these were directed, resulting in either silence as each class waited for the other to respond, or a noisy clash as children from both sites attempted to answer at the same time. This was eventually resolved by one of the UK based teachers ‘’taking control’ by suggesting a turn-taking strategy. While an interesting question and answer session ensued following this intervention, 14 around a third of the conference had been rendered ineffective. [Observer’s record] Having said this, this is one factor – albeit a critical one – among many. The following example of a multi-site conference shows that even where such roles are clearly delineated and understood, other elements come into play. This was a four-way conference involving a class in an UK school and groups of same-age students in Finland, Poland, and Greece. This was part of a series of conferences and a great deal of planning had gone into them. The students in each country had prepared presentations, and the taking of turns - mediated by a teacher at each site - was well co- ordinated and understood by each group. In order to avoid the kind of confusion encountered in the previous example, each class presented in turn. However, because of the number of sites involved, each group of participants spent far more time listening than presenting. Many of the students in the UK class were observed to be disengaged, either because they were reading through or making adjustments to their own material prior to their own presentation, or simply because they had (in the opinion of the observer) ‘switched off’ after being passive listeners for fairly lengthy periods. Thus while the conference was in organisational terms highly successful (and students gave a generally positive appraisal of their experience afterwards) some of its educational effectiveness was lost as a result of this relative lack of interaction. [Observer's record] 14 It should be noted that in a subsequent interview, the tutor – without prompting – recalled this incident, pointing out that this had been the only conference that she had conducted with more than one school, or with primary children. More than 20 other conferences with secondary schools were reported to have been very successful. Nevertheless, this example highlights two clear issues: firstly, the need to discuss and agree roles beforehand and secondly, that it cannot be assumed that what works in one context will work in another. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 64 of 104
  • 65. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 8.3.4 Recognising the needs of students As noted earlier, one of the key benefits of video conferencing was the impact being aware of an audience. While this finding was located in the context of students’ learning, an awareness of audience is just as important for anyone who takes a teaching role in a video conference. Those communicating remotely with learners need to be aware and capable of addressing the cognitive level of the students, and to have some understanding of any relevant social or cultural factors. While this applies generally, it is an especially important issue in situations where a leading role is taken by one person, as in the one-to-many/remote expert approach. Remote tutors also need to ensure that ‘receiving’ students (and teachers) are given advance notice of the content and structure of the session (eg, some institutions sent out packs for teachers to use in preparing their students). In terms of engagement with students, remote tutors need to avoid the ‘transmission’ model. Lacking a sense of audience is perhaps more understandable when addressing students via technology rather than to a live and present audience. The effect, however, is much the same, as students a secondary school discovered during a conference with a remote expert: Because the students are all well-motivated, and they’d prepared, and they were obviously quite enthusiastic about it. They’d prepared some excellent questions, which the (organisation) had told us to do, but the speaker at the (organisation) didn’t really give them the opportunity to use them, which I thought was a shame because they were good questions. And he did say speak whenever you want to, but because it was the first time they didn’t want to interrupt his flow, so although he was a professional actor and it was good, the students weren’t that involved this end. They were quite passive really. … He did stop now and then and asked for any questions but he didn’t do it very often, and it would have been more successful if he’d maybe done a 20 minute presentation and then 20 minutes where the students were taking part, and maybe went round the room. I think he would have been quite surprised at how well-prepared they were. It was all wasted really. Lead teacher, Secondary School 8.4 Summary The evaluation identified a broad range of factors - personal, organisational, technical and professional-developmental - which were associated with or likely to enhance the likelihood of an educationally effective conference. Clearly not all schools or teachers had fully developed these areas, especially those which are at the relatively early stages of video conferencing. While some degree of effective conferencing can exist without a limited number of these factors being in place (for example isolated pockets of excellence can - and were - developed without the wholesale support or involvement of senior management) if video conferencing is to become fully integrated into the curriculum, schools need to be working towards fully developing each of these areas. A number of barriers to progress were also identified. To some extent these are mirror images of affordances/enabling factors, so that for example issues about the problems associated with a lack of role clarity is the other side of the need for thorough preparation; technical barriers are to a large extent resolved by access to technical support, and so on. Some barriers were less obvious, perhaps, especially in relation to teacher resistance, the difficulties in 'spreading the word' and an associated issue, what we refer to as the 'key personnel syndrome'. Again, these factors point to the need for schools to fully embrace the technology at every level, so that it does not become (or remain) restricted to a small number of enthusiasts. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 65 of 104
  • 66. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Section 9 The impact of technical factors Key findings of this section • The degree of sophistication of the video conferencing systems used should matched to the learning objectives of a given educational activity • Video conferencing technologies were easy to learn and operate for most teachers • Audio and sound quality were important for the video conferencing experience, but relatively few difficulties were encountered with these factors • While relatively little use was made of peripheral technologies, teachers recognised the value they could bring to the experience • Mobile or fixed facilities each had their particular advantages and disadvantages, with the location of the ISDN line being a critical factor 9 Introduction As explained in Section 4, a range of contextual factors determines the outcome of a video conference session. Briefly addressed in that section was the impact of technical factors on the success of a conference. In this Section, these issues are explored in greater detail. The focus therefore is not on technological systems per se (such topics are more than adequately discussed elsewhere; see for example Arnold, Cayley and Griffith (2002, 2004), but their impact on teaching and learning. These are discussed under seven broad headings: Systems; Connectivity & data speed; Use of equipment & location; Peripherals and additional technologies and Technical failure. 9.1 Systems The nature and quality of any technology will affect what can be achieved with it, and this is true of video conferencing systems as it is of other technology. Generally speaking, the more sophisticated the equipment, the more satisfactory the experience. Having said this, we need to return again to the notion of ‘fitness for purpose’. A small webcam (for example) can be used to very good effect in certain situations – one to one conversations in which high sound and/or visual quality are not essential – but much less so for more complex interactions. There may be, therefore, educational contexts where the simple approach might be perfectly adequate. The less sophisticated end of the ‘video conferencing market’ may also represent the only realistic entry point for some schools with a small budget and other competing priorities. In the majority of cases, the kind of activities that schools wished to engage in required a system of reasonably high technical specificity. Most of the evaluation schools, however (many by dint of being participants in the Project), had up-to-date and high-quality systems which enabled more sophisticated usage. 9.2 Connectivity and data speed As video conferencing is reliant on visual and audio cues, sound and picture quality have a great impact, a situation which is exacerbated for some pupils, for example those with hearing impairments or learning difficulties. The speed at which data is transferred between conference participants clearly has an impact on the technical quality of the conference, and generally speaking, the faster the connection, the better the conference experience and poor sound and audio quality were seen to have undermined the experience of some video conferencing sessions. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 66 of 104
  • 67. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project With the advent of Regional Broadband Consortia (RBCs), classroom video conferencing is increasingly likely to be based on Broadband connectivity, enabling faster connection. In the evaluation, however, around two-thirds of the schools used ISDN of varying capability, with about half of the primary schools relying on ISDN2. In fact, while in some cases this introduced some limitations in terms of the quality of visual and sound quality, for discussion- based activities (to which video conferencing was mainly put) this was generally regarded as adequate by most teachers., This was confirmed in many of the observations of conferences where ISDN was used, which essentially was more than suitable for the purposes to which it was put. Poor sound and audio quality were nevertheless seen to have undermined the experience of some video conferencing sessions, with some pupils citing such problems as the worst aspect of the session: The worst thing about video conferencing is that when the person talks you can’t hear well when they show you a picture you can’t see it well. Pupil, Special School As video conferencing is reliant on visual and audio cues, sound and picture quality have a great impact. This is amplified for pupils with hearing impairments and those with learning difficulties. Most schools experienced connectivity problems at some stage that resulted in interference on the line, breaks in connection or led to a lack of any connection at all. Although ongoing connectivity problems were rare, in one school the extent of the problem was extreme and resulted in ISDN lines having to be stripped out and re-installed in another part of the school site. A problem also existed where schools with ISDN wished to communicate with sites using Broadband, necessitating access to a ‘bridge’. A number of schools indicated that this had caused difficulties, or had actually prevented them from extending their video conferencing activities. 9.3 Use of equipment Whatever the nature and quality of the equipment, the efficiency with which it is used can have a significant impact on the outcome of a video conferencing session. The success of a conference (how ‘smoothly’ it runs) and its educational effectiveness (how well it meets learning objectives), are strongly interlinked in this context (see 4.2.4 for a discussion of this distinction). Relatively basic factors such as poor microphone placement or technique, a failure to use the ‘mute’ function appropriately or a lack of experience with camera controls can transform a potentially positive learning activity into a somewhat unsatisfactory or pedestrian experience. While examples of this sort were observed, these were almost always associated with inexperience, which in most cases was a relatively short-lived condition. As we have suggested elsewhere, the ‘learning curve’ for video conferencing is for many teachers much less steep than for other ICT applications. 9.4 Peripherals and additional technologies As explained earlier, the involvement of additional technologies fell into two broad categories. First are those such as email which were used for the organisation and co-ordination of the conference. This included their use for initial contact and pre-conference preparation, as well as for the management of the conference itself. The effectiveness of a conference was directly affected by the degree of preparation, so that email and (to a lesser extent the telephone) were essential tools in this regard. Although video conferencing itself was also used for this purpose, the additional facility of email in particular represented a convenient, inexpensive and asynchronous medium that also facilitated the exchange of curriculum plans and materials. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 67 of 104
  • 68. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Second are those which were used to support or enhance the learning objectives of the conference. While various additional technologies and features can be introduced to enhance the video conferencing experience, in the majority of cases, video conferences tended to centre around a relatively simple ‘dialogue’ model, that is one that involved the use of the system camera and microphone only. This is not to suggest that this approach is necessarily ‘less effective’ than a more complex approach. The focus here (and throughout this report) is on pedagogy. Nevertheless, while many of the conferences of this kind represented an effective use of the technology, reliance on this approach could limit the effectiveness of particular activities, as in the case of a Y6 conference with the National Maritime Museum on the subject of ‘Tudor living’. Part of the session involved the remote expert showing the children a strand of silk as an example of 16th century trading. However, poor resolution quality (both remote camera and the school TV monitor) meant that it was simply not possible to see. In this situation, a document camera - which enables the viewing of printed matter or other artefacts in greater detail (and with more control) than is possible using the system camera - could perhaps have enhanced the effect. Having said this, the context of limited resources in which the many of the museums and galleries are working (as compared to a University physics department for example) means that access to additional equipment of this kind is not possible. A document camera was used to good effect in a lecture delivered to an A-level from a University physics department. Here the camera was trained on diagrams which were used to illustrate the talk, and brought into vision at key points during the talk. Although these materials had been sent (via email) and distributed to students as hard copies prior to the session, the lecturer was able to draw attention to and append certain features of the display that he wished to highlight. While relatively few schools had access to such equipment, some schools did involve additional hardware and/or software. The use of a fixed whiteboard as a means of displaying materials is an option that was more widely available to many schools. This approach (in combination with a camera ‘pre-set’) enables the operator to smoothly switch from group to board and vice versa. The use of an electronic (interactive) whiteboard was reported by around a quarter of the school sample, although mainly for displaying the conference rather than for its interactive capabilities. A similar proportion incorporated the use of presentation or other software into their conferences. In this way pre-prepared material could be viewed clearly at the remote site. Used appropriately, this could be a highly effective means of displaying curriculum material. In one school, for example, a Y9 German class in the UK and an English class in Germany had both produced a presentation about their school and its locale, which included both text and photographs. In another school, a remotely delivered Y10 Spanish lesson involved the far-end tutor presenting Spanish words and phrases in the form of text, which could be highlighted, enlarged and so on in order to emphasise particular aspects of it. Application sharing (the collaborative development or modification of material via mutual access to a given software application) is not possible with most standard video conferencing systems, requiring the use of other approaches. Although this imposed limitations for some more advanced schools, many were still at the stage of exploring the potential of the existing equipment. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 68 of 104
  • 69. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 9.5 Technical failure While schools coped at times with relatively poor sound and picture quality, robust technology is a prerequisite. While outright technical failure was fairly rare, when it occurred it inevitably led to a concomitant breakdown in the success of the conference. The most commonly encountered problem was an initial failure to connect or a ‘dropped’ connection during a conference itself, the reasons for which varied from context to context. The mobile phone emerged as an almost essential piece of equipment for the resolution of problems during the conference itself. A number of teachers used these to contact their remote partner in the event of a failed connection or other difficulty, an interesting example of one form of modern technology being used to resolve a problem with another. In one observed incident, the Lead Teacher was alternately communicating with a local technical support person and support from the Project team (both talking her through various possibilities for re-establishing a dropped connection) and the teacher at the remote site (a school in Poland) to explain what was happening and to arrange a contingency plan. The problem was eventually solved and the (ultimately successful) conference rearranged for an hour later than originally scheduled. 9.6 Location of video conferencing equipment As noted in Section 3, around a third of the schools had permanently sited equipment. Many of these were located in a computer suite rather than a dedicated video conferencing room, which had disadvantages of the kind associated with access to ICT generally, which include timetabling arrangements and a lack of flexibility of use. From a technical point of view, however, fixed equipment was generally more stable than the mobile unit. Although immobility of some equipment (for example fixed ceiling microphones) is not to be recommended, successively setting up, taking down and moving systems inevitably increases the likelihood of loss or damage to cables, connection ports and so on. I have to move it from room to room and the ISDN line is a bit dodgy so you have to fiddle around with it every now and again. If you have to programme things in again I find that difficult and would have to call a technician in. Lead teacher, Secondary School An associated benefit of the fixed unit is a greater degree of control over the siting of cameras, microphones and so on, as well as environmental features such as background, lighting. In other schools, where video conferencing facilities were placed was reliant on where the ISDN cable was positioned. Most schools were not able to move or install new ISDN points, and had to situate the video conferencing facility at existing points, which were not necessarily the most suitable locations for video conferencing. In one school, the ISDN line was located in the ICT suite, which was located next to the kitchen. The noise from the kitchen as well as noise generated by students in the dining area at break times was not ideal for video conferencing. Further, most schools had a limited number of ISDN points. This had the effect of putting pressure on a small number of rooms and the inconvenience and frustration of operating a room booking system. Many schools had ISDN access in their computer suites, which seemed to be a sensible place for this prior to video conferencing. However, where ISDN lines were located in ICT suites, this made the ICT equipment in the room redundant during a video conference as video conferencing rarely involved the class using personal computers or other ICT equipment. In addition to this, in a number of schools, others could not use the Internet while a video conference was in progress, so again, video conferencing blocked off opportunities for others to engage in ICT use, simply because of the practicalities and limitations of connective capacity within the school. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 69 of 104
  • 70. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 9.7 Viewing systems The TV monitor was by far the most commonly used viewing medium. While most were of an appropriate size for class viewing of regular TV programmes, as noted elsewhere (Section 4), this was not always appropriate for video conferencing, especially those involving large groups where not all students could be close to the screen. 9.8 Summary We have made on a number of occasions in this report the distinction between a successful conference and an educationally effective conference. The various technical factors discussed in this section are involved in booth. It is possible to have a technically successful conference without it being effective. However, it is much more difficult to have an effective conference where the technology 'gets between' the student and the learning experience. Thus while it may possible to have an adequate discussion based conference using relatively 'low level' equipment or connectivity, more sophisticated interactions require a different order of technology. We return therefore, to the notion of fitness for purpose also discussed throughout this report. For truly effective educational experiences, schools should try to ensure that the technology does not dictate the learning, rather that the learning objectives determine the nature of the technology. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 70 of 104
  • 71. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Glossary of terms and acronyms Application/Document Allows users on both sides of the video conference to view and edit the Sharing same computer document. Bandwidth Defines the amount of information that can be sent and received in a certain time frame. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the information carrying capacity of the medium. Bridge A device or service that connects and passes data, voice, or video between two or more video conferencing set ups. See MCU Broadband A generic term applied to networks having bandwidth significantly greater than traditional telephone networks. Although definitions of Bandwidth differ, broadband systems are generally capable of carrying large amounts of data. Desktop Video Video conferencing on a personal computer. conferencing Document Camera A camera used during a video conference for taking pictures of still images, pictures, graphics, pages of text, and 3-D objects. Far End The location where the other participants of the video conference are located. Signal is received to the Near end site from the Far end site. ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network. A type of telephone network that uses digital service right up to the end user's equipment. It provides seamless communications via a dedicated line between individual desktop and group video conferencing systems. MCU Multiple Control Unit. A device or service which enables multiple participants to join in a conference. Also know as a Bridge Multipoint Video conference with more than two sites. The sites must connect via a Bridge or MCU. (Compare with Point-to-point) Mbps Megabits per second. A bit is a basic unit of binary (digital) data (a single One or Zero that is transmitted). Collections of bits can be used to represent more complex values. Packet Refers to protocols in which messages are divided into packets before they are sent. Each packet is then transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message. Point-to-point Video conference between two sites. (see Multipoint) Protocols An agreed-upon format for transmitting data between devices. TCP-IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Networking protocols that let different types of equipment communicate over the Internet or other packet based networks. Some of these definitions are taken or adapted from the following sites: http://picturephone.com/products/learn_glossary.htm#lmne http://picturephone.com/products/learn_glossary.htm May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 71 of 104
  • 72. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project References Arnold, T. Cayley, S and Griffith, M. (2004) Video conferencing in the Classroom: Communications Technology Across the Curriculum. The DfES “Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/ www.global-leap.com”. Arnold, T. Cayley, S and Griffith, M. (2002) Video conferencing in the Classroom: Communications Technology Across the Curriculum. The DfES “Video conferencing in the Classroom Project”/ Devon Curriculum Services. Butler, M. and Fawkes, S. (1999) Video conferencing for language learners. Language Learning Journal (19) 46-49. Comber, C. and Hargreaves, L. (1998) The Impact of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on Transfer between Primary and Secondary schools in the UK. Paper presented to the Annual Conference of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Frankfurt. Comber, C., Lawson, T., Watling, R., Cavendish, S., McEune, R. and Paterson, F. (2002) ImpaCT2, Strand 3: Learning at home and school Coventry: DfES/Becta. Cox, M., Webb, M. Abbot, C. Blakely, B. Beauchamp, T. and Rhodes, V. (2003) ICT and Pedagogy: A Review of the Literature. Coventry: Becta. Gage, J. (2001) What does MOTIVATE do? Micromath, 17, 2. Gage, J., Nickson, M. and Beardon, T. (2002) Can video conferencing contribute to teaching and learning?: the experience of the Motivate Project British Educational Research Association: Annual Conference. Available http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00002264.htm (accessed December 2002). Galton, M., Comber, C., Fogelman, K., Hargreaves, L., Lawson, T., Thorpe, R. and Roberts- Young, D. (1997). Education Departments' Superhighways Initiative (EDSI): Evaluation of Group A; Curriculum Projects: Final Report Coventry: NCET. Griffith. M. . (2002) The DfES Video conferencing in the Classroom Project/ www.global- leap.com The video conferencing resource for teachers in the UK and around the world (accessed December 2002). Hall, J., McPake, J. and Somekh, B. (1997) Education Departments' Superhighways Initiative (EDSI): Evaluation of Group S: Curriculum Projects in Scotland: Final Report Coventry: NCET. Lawson, T., Comber, C., Gage, J., Cullum-Hanshaw, A. and Allen, T. (2003) Video conferencing: a literature review, Unpublished, London: DfES. McFarlane, A., North, R. and Stain, M. (1997) Education Departments' Superhighways Initiative (EDSI): Evaluation of Group C: Teachers' Professional Development: Final Report Coventry: NCET. Mercer, N. (1996) The Quality of Talk in Children's Collaborative Activity in the Classroom Learning and Instruction 64, 359 – 379. Passey, D., Forrest, K., Hutchinson, D., Scott, A. and Williams, D. (1997) Education Departments' Superhighways Initiative (EDSI): Evaluation of Group D: Home-school Links: Final Report, Coventry: NCET. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 72 of 104
  • 73. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Scrimshaw. P. (1997) ‘Preparing for the Information Age: Synoptic Report of the Education Departments’ Superhighways Initiative (EDSI), London: DfEE/NCET. Stevenson, I. (2003) The development of a measure or measures capable of monitoring and assessing the way in which the use of ICT in a school may impact on attainment, Coventry: Becta (Internal report) Thorpe, R. (1998) The use of personal video conferencing with special needs pupils from three schools serving rural areas: a case of successful adoption of new technology Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education. Vol. 7, no. 3: 98, p 395-411. Williams, L. (1999) Exploring the integration of, and interaction between, the new ICT Tools, to support learning. Available www.mirandanet.ac.uk/ftp/lwilliams2.pdf (accessed January 2004). Wright, N. and Whitehead, M. Video conferencing and GCSE oral practice Language Learning Journal. (18) 47-49. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 73 of 104
  • 74. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 1 Video conferencing: A literature review (revised April 2004) Tony Lawson Chris Comber Jenny Gage Adrian Cullum-Hanshaw Tracey Allen Background The literature on video conferencing closely follows the trajectory of its status as a ‘cutting edge’ technology in different business and educational environments. In a society saturated with the visual image and in which digital video is penetrating the personal mobile market, the future of video conferencing as a medium of communication in both commerce and schooling would seem to be assured. Yet, commentators on the use of video conferencing have not reported a universally positive impact. Rather, the importance of video conferencing may lie in the different ways it can be employed to meet different objectives and therefore, it may not be useful in all environments or circumstances. The first public use of video communications was the motion video telephone of AT&T at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 (ICDERA 1998). The initial deployment of video conferencing was largely in the business sector, where it was seen as a vehicle for conducing meetings at a distance, thus saving the time and costs of travel (Tang and Isaacs 1995). Crieghton and Adams (1998) suggested that participants prepared more carefully for video conference meetings, and that, once they became familiar with the technology, found them more disciplined and effective. The educational use of video conferencing has been pioneered in Higher Education institutions and only relatively recently begun to be used in secondary and primary schools. The literature on video conferencing therefore reflects this history, with most of the academic material available focusing on university experiences. In addition, it should be remembered that video conferencing is often presented as a variant the more general phenomenon of distance learning, in which a range of communication devices might be used to facilitate ‘learning at a distance’. Distance education Distance education has itself a respectable history, using the postal service to send printed materials to non-residential participants and for these learners to return assignments to markers. Heinich, Molenda and Russell (1993) characterised distance learning as the physical separation of the learner from information, but with two-way communication established through some technology, so that an instructional programme could be followed. The advantages of distance learning are claimed to be flexibility in meeting learner needs and therefore a more equitable situation for remotely located students and a saving in costs (see Kerka 1996). However, traditional distance learning has usually relied on a one-to-many relationship for its cost-effectiveness. As distance learning technologies have advanced, with the emergence of computer-mediated learning and conferencing (Salmon 1999), the potential benefits are May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 74 of 104
  • 75. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project increased. For example, using the Internet as a medium for distance learning is claimed to expand the opportunities for collaborative work, especially with experts who might otherwise be unavailable (Molnar 1997, NCET 1996). It has also been argued that conferencing technologies promote reflective practice (Kolb 1984) amongst individuals and groups (Salmon 2002). In terms of student performance, distance education techniques have been shown to be at least as effective as traditional modes of instruction (see Berge and Mrozowski 2001). Distance learning technologies The introduction of electronic media has revolutionised the format of distance learning and the delivery of information to remote locations. This can be achieved through a variety of electronic devices, from the telephone, fax, the Internet, email and video conferencing itself. Video conferencing therefore represents one end of a spectrum of delivery modes, but is distinctive in its ability to enable immediate interaction between learners and teachers (Offir and Lev 1999), compared to the asynchronous learning usually associated with, for example, email or discussion boards. It also has an advantage over other distance learning technologies in creating a ‘social presence and comfortable environment for learning’ (Tyler 1999). The sheer pace of change, as successive new distance learning technologies have been introduced, has led to difficulties in assimilating them successfully. In particular, the pedagogy appropriate to each technology has fallen behind (Deadman et al. 2000). Collis and Peters (2000) suggest that this ‘implementation gap’ is greater in technologies such as video conferencing, where there is limited personal and everyday use of the technology. The implication of this is that, as digital video becomes more commonplace in people’s personal lives then the implementation gap will close. Video conferencing technologies Even within the overall concept of video conferencing, important differences in delivery and modes can been identified. The basic division is between systems of desktop conferencing, which tends to assume a focus on personal use, and studio-based conferencing which implies a more formalised approach (Mason 1994, Pitcher et al. 2000). While the cost of desktop video conferencing has decreased significantly and become within the reach of most educational institutions, there is always a trade-off between cost and quality. Dedicated video conferencing suites, with fast connections through the internet are at the high quality/high cost end of the spectrum. Another important dimension of video conferencing is whether it is deployed as a one-to- many or group-to-group technology. While relatively low-grade provision through ISDN services may be suitable for some types of video conferencing and involve a minimum of technical expertise, audio and video quality are important in influencing the reception of video conferencing sessions by learners. Desktop video conferencing (DVC) can allow many individuals to participate in a conference through their own computers and to be useful for small group tutorials. It is less effective for a room-based video interaction between larger groups of learners, where clearer picture and sound quality are essential to ensure the participation of all the learners (Hearnshaw 1998). For example, Laouénan and Stacey (1999) found that time delays in low-cost systems impacted negatively on the language learning they were hoping to encourage. In addition, the quality of video and audio will be perceived differently according to the experience of the recipients and the nature of the task in hand, although it is difficult to develop objective measures of quality in relation to audio and picture quality (Watson and Sasse 1998). This has led to a reliance on subjective measures of quality in relation to video channel quality (Hearnshaw 2000), when the perception of picture quality seems to be related to different tasks that the audience may be engaged in (Reeves and Nass 1996). May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 75 of 104
  • 76. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project The use of video conferencing in higher education From a concentration in the world of business in the early 1990s, video conferencing activity spread relatively rapidly into higher education institutions (Carter et al 1996) as costs fell and the capabilities of transmission systems increased (Bunzel and Morris 1994). However, the use of video conferencing in higher education institutions was so focused on the concept of the remote lecture that Laurillard, one of the prominent exponents of using educational technology in universities introduced video conferencing as a ‘One-to-many medium, making it a sensible way to provide access for many sites to a remote academic expert.’ (Laurillard 1993:166). The initial reaction to video conferencing was therefore to see it as a solution to the problems of increasing student intakes and mergers between geographically distant institutions (see Cochrane 1996). Video conferencing was thus perceived as a device for the more effective delivery of traditional pedagogies, especially the lecture (Bollom et al 1989). The focus of debate in the early stages was consequently on the practicalities of delivery via video conferencing rather than the opportunities for new forms of learning and teaching to be developed to suit the new medium. There were however, individuals and institutions who were critical of the remote delivery of lectures and who began to advocate alternative uses of video conferencing. For example, Mason (1994) argued that video conferencing technology was more appropriate for small group tutorials, as the didactic lecture did not exploit the potential for interaction inherent in the technology. In reporting the SUMSMAN Project, Pitcher et al (2000) identified small group work, orals and interviews as additional uses for video conferencing beyond the more traditional business meeting or lectures. Kingenger (1998) documented a small-scale project of interaction between French and English-speakers to experience authentic language exchanges. More recent uses of video conferencing equipment in higher education have sought to move beyond traditional styles of teaching and learning and develop new pedagogies appropriate for the more innovative potential of the technology. For example, Rogers and Jones (1999) identified shared discovery, team learning and accessible experts as some of the potential uses of video conferencing and described practice teaching sessions to several remote sites, with feedback from pupils as an example of innovative use. Kinnear et al. (2001) used a video link from a teacher training department to a Primary school classroom as an opportunity for trainees to see a ‘real’ classroom in operation and to reflect upon what they had seen. Sharpe et al (2000) reported that student teachers felt that there was a ‘safety in distance’ in discussing their teaching performance through video conferencing. Strengths and weakness of traditional modes of delivery using video conferencing The main advantage of the ‘lecture-at-a-distance’ format is often cited as being the ability to include larger numbers of students in important content dissemination activity to avoid duplication of effort and therefore time and cost savings. It is therefore conceived as a flexible tool to meet changing University courses, beset by larger audiences, modularisation and the increase in part-time and mature students (Knipe and Lee 2002). Students echoed this focus on the financial and geographical advantages, identifying savings in travel time and costs (Dallat et al 1992). However, there is an increase in the organisational challenges presented by video conferencing, such as timetable co-ordination, booking requirements and ensuring support staff services (Pitcher et al 2002). However, there were also advantages to lecturers as lecturers in using this technology, in that they were perceived as being able to use the saved time to plan more effectively and to prepare more focused materials (Mason 1994, Freeman 1998). Lecturers also appreciated the potential for document sharing and interactions that video conferencing provided, though in Freeman case study these were not often taken up by the lecturers. They also found it useful to have a video record of their own performance to evaluate and improve it. Moreover, May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 76 of 104
  • 77. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Jacobs and Rodgers (1997) found that the more that lecturers used video conferencing, the more they were likely to develop the changes in lecturing technique that Kristiansen (1994) argues are necessary to maximise learning. On the other hand, Freeman also found that the need to plan and prepare different types of material for use in video conferencing sessions was experienced as an added pressure, increasing stress in an already stressful innovative situation. Moreover, lecturers also disliked the increased reliance on others (technicians, and staff at the remote site) and what was seen as a restriction on the lecturing style by the need to keep within camera range, pay due regard to what they were wearing etc. In particular, the limits to movements imposed by the needs of the camera or to be within reach of the controls were felt to be particularly restricting (Cárdenas 1998). The tutors in Carville and Mitchell’s (2000) study also felt stilted in their delivery, focusing more on the dissemination of knowledge than interactive activities. This was largely due to the inability of the lecturers to identify the remote students as individuals and the time delays in getting them to microphones in large venues. Students in the Freeman study cited equity as a major advantage in that all students, remote or close, were taught by the same lecturers, assuring the same quality of information for all (see also Carville and Mitchell 2000). There were also motivational effects in being involved in what was seen as a cutting-edge learning experience. On the other hand, the students felt that there was a reduction in learning time due to the technicalities involved and the potential for system failure. Remote students also felt that there was increased chat amongst the audience which reduced the effectiveness of delivery. Ironically, they also felt that there was less interaction between lecturer and students, especially for the remote participants. Jones and Smart (1998) argue that it is the limitations of the technology that leads to restrictions in effective communication between instructors and students. In comparing the experiences of local and remote students, Knipe and Lee (2002) found that the remote students had less favourable responses to the delivery mode along a number of dimensions. Specifically, the local students received more information and attention from the lecturer than the remote students and were more engaged in the group work activities, which were more difficult to organise at a distance (see also Furst-Bowe 1997). This last finding supported that of Abbott et al. (1994), who argued that those students reluctant to get involved had more opportunity to ‘hide’ from the lecturer and other students at remote locations. On the other hand, the remote students used the handouts from the lecturer more than local students, as well as having more hands on experience with the actual equipment. However, the overall learning experience was less satisfactory for the remote students, with higher levels of feelings of isolation due to the ‘transactional distance’ between lecturer and student (Moore 1993, Wheeler 2000). For example, when questions from students to the lecturer at the local site were not repeated at a microphone for the remote students, the flow of the lecture was disrupted for the remote participants. Similarly, Pitcher et al. (2000) found that remote students did not join in as much as the local participants and that they found it harder to keep focused, needing ‘careful concentration’ (Carville and Mitchell 2000). In conclusion, the main advantage of delivering lectures remotely was the perceived increase in equity (Carville and Mitchell 2000), but this was not accompanied by any increase in improvements in learning that might be expected from engagement with innovative technology (Goddard 1995). In part, this may be due to both lecturers and students using the traditional lecture as a yardstick for measuring the success or otherwise of video conferencing experiences (see Dallat et al. 1992). Or, as Cochrane put it: ‘It is naïve to assume that merely linking distant groups or individuals at different locations creates an effective learning environment’ (Cochrane 1996, p. 320). Given the relatively high costs of video conferencing technology and the need to have some sort of institution presence at the remote site, any savings are likely to be small until transmission and equipment costs are reduced. This would May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 77 of 104
  • 78. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project support the conclusion of Al-Kodmany et al (1999) that video conferencing varies the experiences of students, but it is unlikely to supplant the traditional lecture, but rather supplement it. Desktop video conferencing in higher education The lower quality and relatively low cost of desktop video conferencing (DVC) has been seen as an alternative to the ‘lecture-at-a-distance’ studio-based use of video conferencing, but more as a way of supporting dialogue than for the transmission of knowledge (Hearnshaw 1998). DVC has therefore been used to support individual student tutorials and through multicasting, to engage groups of students in simultaneous tutorials. Initial attempts to use the multicast format resulted in short, factual exchanges (Sharpe et al. 1994). As experience was gained, the flow of dialogue, especially question-and-answer sessions, was still seen as stilted in tutorials, though the use of a tutorial ‘script’ improved the flow of the encounters. Partly this was due to the lower quality of the video and audio delivery systems that made it difficult for participants to gauge appropriate moments to interject (see Kies et al. 1997 for a discussion of the frame rates necessary for effective DVC). Nevertheless, the synchronous availability of the tutor-expert allowed the students to draw more effectively upon their expertise (Admiraal et al. 1999). Using DVC for meetings has also been found to assist decision-making (Fowler 1997) and promote collaborative activity (Wright and Cordeaux 1996). In a similar fashion, discussions using DVC between teacher trainees during their dispersed practice periods were found to promote reflective learning as they shared problems and generated solutions amongst themselves (Hu et al. 2000). This indicated the communicative potential of video conferencing technologies for collaborative learning (see Lawrence 1994), through ‘distributed communities of practice’ (Squire and Johnson 2000). However, as Hu et al. (2000) argue, to achieve these communities it is necessary to develop rules of engagement that promote the collaboration required through a sense of ‘co-presence’ of all participants, but which also acknowledge individual space and needs. Video conferencing and schools Because of the relatively high costs of video conferencing systems, it is only fairly recently that video conferencing equipment of any degree of sophistication has been found in mainstream schools, although more so in the United States than in the United Kingdom. There have always been small pockets of innovators in schools who were willing to experiment with interactive visual technologies (see Eales et al. 1999), but these were isolated projects, with a limited range of potential remote partners. Moreover, early experiences with video conferencing were dogged by technical problems and it was only when more robust systems were in place that the innovators could explore the organisational and pedagogical implications of video conferencing technologies. The main problems were associated with system crashes, inadequate audio quality, poor camera framing and the lack of effective application sharing. There are some instances of using video conferencing in a traditional ‘lesson-at-a-distance’ way, for example to support rural or remote communities (Husu 2000). The main reason for choosing video conferencing over other forms of communication for this was that it ‘enables one to achieve full interaction in teaching, and with it teachers and learners can see and learn from each other’ (Offir and Lev 1999, p 132). However, the innovators in schools also seemed to want to avoid duplicating traditional modes of delivery, what Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995) describe as a ‘virtual extension’ of prevailing teaching methodologies. Interest in school-based video conferencing was thus more directed towards extending ‘communities of learning’ (Eales and Bryd 1997) and the ‘authentic’ nature of the learning experience through collaboration with peers and experts. This was particularly true of Modern May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 78 of 104
  • 79. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Foreign Language teachers, who were searching for authentic audiences in the target language (see Norman 1997). The benefits for the students were not just concerned with language acquisition and practice, but the care needed to prepare materials for unknown others resulted in an increased ownership of information and a willingness to collaborate across national boundaries. Based on teacher assessment, Butler and Fawkes (1999) claimed that the average improvement of one grade was achieved by a majority of a small number of pupils in regular video conference contact with a school in France. School usage of video conferencing in the past few years has extended the range and potential of the technology in terms of the linkages (one-to-one, one-to-many, multipoint conferencing), accessories (document cameras, application sharing), the connections (IP, ISDN) equipment (videophones, webcams, dedicated audio and video links) and pedagogies employed (lecture-at-a-distance, peer tutoring, virtual tours, project work etc.). Activist teachers have engaged with this technology in novel as well as traditional ways and, by and large, have been enthusiastic about its effects (see Arnold et al., 2002 for a collection of case studies of use in schools). Smyth and Fay (1994) suggest that success in more likely when exposure to video conferencing is driven by curriculum considerations rather than the technology itself. For example, the Motivate project in mathematics is designed to enrich pupils’ experiences of maths through exposure to world-class mathematicians (Gage 2001). The use of video conferencing in schools is potentially larger than just curriculum considerations and has organisational advantages as well. For example, Myktyn (1999) identifies video conferencing as a tool: • to support disrupted learners • for consultation • for management • for staff development • for the deaf • for social interaction • and for life as well as a tool for learning. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 79 of 104
  • 80. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Organisational constraints One seemingly obvious conclusion to be drawn from the literature on video conferencing in schools is that there needs to be a valid reason for collaboration between the parties involved, rather than just a ‘try out’ at the technology. Groups placed in front of the cameras who do not have a raison d’être quickly dry up. However, there is also a need for pre-event collaboration of a different order, to make initial contacts between sites, to agree an educational activity as a focus and co-ordinate timetables and timings (see Smyth and Fay 1994). Moreover, issues of location of microphones and cameras and the group size constituted other constraints, with participants being unable to make themselves heard in larger groups. The result was that the lessons slowed considerably as instructions, questions and comments were repeated so that all could hear (see Husu 2000). Thorpe (1998) found that by using smaller groups, placed more closely around the camera and microphone, more effective interaction took place between the students. The issue of background noise has often been raised in the case studies collected by Global Leap (2003), where participants have to learn quickly to mute their microphones when their site is not contributing. Gage (2003) argued that sound and picture quality had management and pedagogical implications with inaudible voices and frame freezing causing loss of continuity. Pupils and video conferencing Attitudes For some pupils, video conferencing acted as a motivator, as well as giving them some control over their own education as they co-ordinated video conferencing sessions with remote others via email (see Eales et al. 1999). This was supported by the limited evidence gathered in the EDSI Superhighways Evaluation, where increased motivation was reported (ConnectED Project and the BEON Project – see Galton et al. 1998). Eales also reported that the teachers involved in the project thought it was the average students who most benefited, as they were able to acquire and demonstrate the new communication skills needed rather than the writing skills that they did not do so well with. A project in Ashcraig School found that video conferencing was a way of minimising the social effects of physical disability and an essential skill for life for children with special educational needs (see Mykytyn 1999). The positive effects of video conferencing on children with special educational needs were also detailed by Thorpe (1998), who found that it helped to reduce isolation and induced them to adopt turn-taking behaviours, rather than interrupting or ‘shouting over’ others. However, not all students have been found to be comfortable with the technology and there was a degree of self-consciousness amongst the experimental group in Eales’ research. This is supported by other projects, where, even though the majority reaction was positive, there remained about 20% of the students who were more unsure of the experience (Gage et al. 2002, Wright and Whitehead 1998). Other negative aspects of video conferencing as experienced by the learners were documented by Tyler (1999) and included the ability of quieter members of the group to ‘hide’ while proceedings were dominated by a few, a lack of real interaction and points scoring behaviour from some quarters. On the other hand, even very young children have been helped to construct new understandings of basic concepts concerned with the weather using video conferencing with other children (Yost 2001). The case studies reported by Arnold et al (2002) suggested that video conferencing is not suitable for all types of learner and that the establishment of fruitful relations between distant participants can be problematic. This was less the case where the learning was of a more informal kind, but some examination class students saw this as a key disadvantage of remote delivery. In the King’s School case study (cited in Arnold et al. 2002) the students recognised that the delivery mode demanded that they become more independent learners, but that they also lost something when they could not interact with the teacher as frequently as in a usual classroom. Case studies cited by Global Leap (2003), especially Arbour Vale and Davenies May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 80 of 104
  • 81. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Schools, suggested that video conferencing was most enjoyed and useful where there was an interactive element, preferably with an international audience. This supports the findings of Cifuentes and Murphy (2000) who reported that collaboration with others from a different cultural background promoted understanding of difference. Attainment In a meta-analysis by Cavanaugh (2001) of distance technologies, the small number of studies that involved video conferencing found no positive effect size on attainment, though there were reported increases in motivation. Indeed, in the case of language teaching, the meta-analysis concluded that the students exposed to distance learning techniques performed below those under traditional methods of instruction. However, to learn appropriate techniques to make the best of the opportunities presented by video conferencing takes time, both for teachers considering the pedagogical implications and pupils engaging in new forms of interaction and collaboration (see Smyth and Fay 1994 and the Richmond Park case study in Mykytyn 1999). This was especially so for the pupils, whose experience of television creates expectations of a passivity in relation to the screen, rather than the active involvement which maximises learning (Pacific Bell 1995). The findings of the EDSI Superhighways Project (NCET 1997) suggested that, although the numbers of pupils involved was small and that there were technical difficulties with the equipment that limited its effects, there was evidence of a potential impact on attainment in, for example, language ability. Equally important, was the exposure that video conferencing allowed to other cultures, whether abroad or in another school within the United Kingdom. Interaction In opening up other worlds to pupils in classrooms, it would seem that there is a great potential for interactivity inherent in video conferencing technology. However, Heath and Holznagel (2002:p.10) suggested that high levels of interaction are assumed to take place rather than been shown to have occurred. They argued that both individual interaction with learning materials and social interactions between pupils and teachers, pupils and others, pupils and pupils need to be planned carefully into video conferencing sessions. Oliver and McLoughlin (1997) found that most learning episodes involving interactive technologies were actually teacher-centred, suggesting that the potential of video conferencing for interactivity was not being exploited. Conclusion The utilisation of video conferencing by schools is clearly at a very early stage and yet, the recognition of its potential for educational interaction between remote participants is well established. However, video conferencing is not confined to a single mode of teaching. Video conferencing provides an avenue for delivery of traditional pedagogies as well as for exploring new ways of educating children and adults. As Noss and Pachler (1999) argue, ICT transforms the relationship between teacher and learner as the idea of the teacher as source of all knowledge is undermined. Moreover, video conferencing extends the reach of the learner beyond the school and requires new ways of engaging with others. The role of teachers in this situation will be to support learners to make sense of the opportunities opened up to them by video conferencing, as they develop ‘new complexities of pedagogy involving, for example, collaborative learning with computers’ (Noss and Pachler, page 207). May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 81 of 104
  • 82. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project References Abbott, L., J. Dallat, R. Livingston and A. Robinson (1994) The Application of Video conferencing to the Advancement of Independent Group Learning for Professional Development Educational and Training Technology International 31, 2 pp. 85-92. Admiraal, W., W. Veen, F. Korthagen, D. Lockhorst, T. Wubbels, F. Hernadez, M. Fonollosa, A. Grisos, J. McShea, N. Bennett, N. Davis, S. Jennings, S. Gudmundsdottir and T. Hoel (1999) Tele-guidance to Develop Reflective Practice: experiences in four teacher education programmes across Europe Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education 8, 1, pp. 71-88. Al-Kodmany, K. G., R. V. Marks and J. Skach (1999) A Case study of teaching an urban design course on two campuses simultaneously ALN Magazine Online: http://www.aln.org/alnweb/magazine/Vol3_issue/Al-Kodmany.htm Last accessed: June 2003 Arnold, T., S. Cayley and M. Griffith (2202) Video Conferencing in the Classroom: communications technology across the curriculum, Devon, Devon County Council. Berge, Z. L. and S. Mrozowski (2001) Review of Research in Distance Education 1990 to 1999 American Journal of Distance Education 15, 3, pp. 5-19. Bollom, C. E., P. A. Emerson, P. R. Fleming, and A. R. Williams (1989)The Charing Cross and Westminster Interactive Television Network Journal of Educational Television 15, 1, pp. 5-15. Bunzel, M. J. and S. K. Morris (1994) Multimedia Applications Development New York, McGraw-Hill. Butler, M. and Fawkes, S. (1999) Video conferencing for language learners. Language Learning Journal 19, 46-49. Cárdenas, K. (1998) Technology in Today’s Classroom: it slices and it dices, but does it serve us well? Academe 84, 3 pp. 27-29. Carter, C., A. Clarke, R. Graham and S. Pomfrett (1996) The Use of Video Conferencing in Higher Education New York, SIMA Report Series. Carville, S. and Mitchell, D. R. (2000) ‘It’s a Bit Like Star Trek’: the effectiveness of video conferencing Innovations in Education and Training International 37, 1, pp. 42-49. Cavanaugh, C. S. (2001) The Effectiveness of Interactive Distance Education Technologies in K-12 Learning: a meta-analysis International Journal of Educational Technologies 7, 1 pp. 73- 88. Cifuentes, L. and K. L. Murphy (2000) Promoting multicultural understanding and positive self- concept through a distance learning community: cultural connections Educational Technology Research and Development 37, 1, pp. 42-49. Cochrane, C. (1996) The use of Video conferencing to Support Learning: an overview of issues relevant to the library and information profession Education for Information 14, 4, pp. 317-330. Collis, B., O. Peters and N. Pals (2000) Influences on the Educational Use of the WWW, Email and Video conferencing Innovations in Education and Training International 37, 2, pp. 108-119. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 82 of 104
  • 83. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Creighton, J. L. and J. W. R. Adams (1998) CyberMeeting New York, American Management Association. Dallat, J., G. Frazer, R. Livingston and A. Robinson (1992) Video conferencing and the Adult Learner Northern Ireland, University of Ulster. Deadman, P. G. Brent Hall, T. Bain, L. Elliot and D. Dudycha (2000) Interactive GIS Instruction Using a Multimedia Classroom Journal of Geography in Higher Education 24, 3, pp. 365-380. Eales, R. T. J. and L. M. Bryd (1997) Virtually Deschooling Society: authentic collaborative learning via the internet Proceedings of WebNet’97 held in Toronto, Canada Charlottesville, VA: AACE, pp. 155-160. Eales, R.T. J., D. C. Neale and J. M Carroll (1999) Desktop Video conferencing as a basis for Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in K-12 Classrooms Proceedings of the World Conference in Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 1999, 1 pp. 628-633. Fowler, H. (1997) Video conferencing – tool or toy? Information Week 18, 26, November – 9 December 1997. Freeman, M. (1998)Video conferencing: a solution to the multi-campus large classes problem? British Journal of Educational Technology 29, 3, pp. 197-201. Furst-Bowe, J. A. (1997) Comparison of Student Reactions in Traditional and Video conferencing Courses International Journal of Instructional Media 24, 3, pp. 197-205. Gage, J. (2001) What does MOTIVATE do? Micromath, 17, 2, pp. 22-25. Gage, J., M. Nickson, and T. Beardon, (2002) Can video conferencing contribute to teaching and learning?: the experience of the Motivate Project British Educational Research Association: Annual Conference Online: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00002264.htm Last accessed June 2003. Gage, J. (2003) Video conferencing in the Mathematics Lesson Coventry, BECTa. Galton, M., C. Comber, K. Fogelman, L. Hargreaves, T. Lawson, R. Thorpe, and D. Roberts- Young (1998) Education Department’s Superhighways Initiative: Group A: Curriculum Projects in England and Wales: Final Report Coventry, NCET. Global Leap (2003) Case Studies Global-leap.com Online:http://www.global- leap.com/casestudies/index.htm Last accessed June 2003. Goddard, J. (1995) Perspectives on video conferencing ASCILITE’95 – Learning with Technology Melbourne, Science Multimedia Teaching Unit, pp. 205-213. Heinich, R., M. Molenda and J. Russell (1993) Instructional Media and the New Technologies of Instruction (4th ed.) Basingstoke, Macmillan. Hearnshaw, D. (1998) Capitalising on the Strengths and availability of desktop Video conferencing Active Learning 7, pp. 52-59. Hearnshaw, D. (2000) Towards an Objective Approach to the Evaluation of Video conferencing Innovations in Education and Training International 37, 3, pp. 210-217. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 83 of 104
  • 84. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Heath, M. J. and D. Holznagel (2002) Interactive Video conferencing: a literature review Paper delivered to the K-12 national Symposium for Interactive Video conferencing, Dallas, Texas, October. Hu, C. L. Sharpe, L. Crawford, S. Gopinathan, M. S. Khine, S. N. Moo and A Wong (2000) Using Lesson Video Clips via Multipoint Desktop Video Conferencing to Facilitate Reflective Practice Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education 9, 3, pp. 377-388. Husu, J. (2000) Supporting Remote Communities with a Shared Virtual Classroom: a view of social contexts Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education 9, 2, pp. 255-267. ICDERA (Irish Centre for Distance Education Research and Applications) (1998) Business Uses of Video conferencing Online: http://icdera.infm.ulst.ac.uk/comm/modules/vc/buses,htm Last accessed: June 2003. Jacobs, G and Rodgers, C. (1997) Remote Teaching with Digital Video: a trans-national experience British Journal of Educational Technology 28, 4, pp. 293-304. Jones, S. P. and K. J. Smart (1998) Humanness Under assault: an essay questioning technology in the classroom Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 18, 2, pp. 87-95. Kerka, S. (1996) Distance learning, the Internet and the Worldwide Web Columbus, OH, ERIC Clearinghouse. Kies, J. K., R. C. Williges and M. B. Rosson (1997) Evaluating Desktop Video Conferencing for Distance Learning Computers in Education 28, 2, pp. 79-91. Kinginger, C. (1998) Video conferencing as Access to Spoken French Modern Language Journal 82, 4 pp. 502-513. Kinnear, H., S. McWilliams and L. Caul (2001) The Use of Interactive Video in Teaching Teachers: an evaluation of a link with a primary school Paper presented to the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 13-15 September. Knipe, D. and M. Lee (2002) The Quality of Teaching and Learning via Video conferencing British Journal of Educational Technology 33, 3, pp. 301-311. Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as a source of learning and development London, Prentice-Hall. Kristiansen, T. (1994) ‘ISDN Video telephony in Norway’ in: Mason, R. and Bacsich, P. (eds.) ISDN: applications in education and training Exeter: Short Run Press. Laouénan, M. and S. Stacey (1999) A Brief Experiment in Distance Teaching and Learning of French British Journal of Educational Technology 30, 2, pp. 177-180. Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking University teaching: a framework for the effective use of educational technology London: Routledge. Lawrence, B. H. (1995) Teaching and Learning via Video Conference: the benefits of co- operative learning Journal of Educational Technology 24, pp. 145-149. Mason, R. (1994) ‘The Educational Value of ISDN’ in: Mason, R. and P. Bacsich (eds.) ISDN: Applications In Education and Training Exeter, Short Run Press. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 84 of 104
  • 85. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Mason, R. (1994) Using Communications Media in Open and Flexible Learning London, Kogan Page. Molnar, A. (1997) Computers in education: a brief history THE Journal 24, 11, pp. 63-68. Moore, M. G. (1993) ‘Theory of Transactional Distance’ in: D. Keegan (ed.) Theoretical Principles of Distance Education London, Routledge. Mykytyn, I. (1999) A Practical Guide to Video conferencing Glasgow, SCET. National Council for Educational Technology (1996) Information Sheet on: Teacher Training and Computer Mediated Communications Coventry: NCET. National Council for Educational Technology (1997) Education Departments’ Superhighways Initiative Coventry, NCET. Online: http://edsi.ngfl.gov.uk/index.html Last accessed June 2003. Norman, N. (1997) Communication Technologies and Education: lessons in the potential of innovation ALT-J 5, 3, pp. 1-9. Noss, R. and N Pachler (1999) ‘The Challenge of New Technologies: doing old things in a new way, or doing new things?’ in: P. Mortimore, (ed.) Understanding Pedagogy and Its Impact on Learning London, Paul Chapman. Offir, B. and Y. Lev (1999) Teacher-Learner Interaction in the Process of Operating DL Systems Educational Media International pp. 132-136. Oliver, R. and C. McLoughlin (1997) Interaction in audiographics teaching and learning environments American Journal of Distance Education 11, 1, pp. 6-22. Pacific Bell (1995) Video conferencing for Learning SBC Knowledge Network Explorer. Online: http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/vidconf/ Last accessed: June 2003. Pitcher, N., K. Davidson and J. Goldfinch (2000) Video conferencing in Higher Education Innovations in Education and Training International pp.199-209. Reeves, B. and C. Nass (1996) The Media Equation – How People Treat Computers, Television and New Media Like Real People and Places Cambridge, CUP. Rogers, D. and C. Jones (1999) Partnership learning: new models of video conferencing in education Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 1999, 1, pp. 188-192. Salmon, G. (1999) Computer Mediated Conferencing in Large Scale Management Education Open Learning (June) pp. 45-54. Salmon, G. (2002) Mirror, Mirror, On My Screen….Exploring Online Reflections British Journal of Educational Technology 33, 4, pp. 379-391. Sharpe, L., C. Hu, L. Crawford, S. Gopinathan, S. N. Moo and A. F. L. Wong (2000) Multipoint Desktop Video conferencing as a Collaborative Tool for Teacher Preparation Educational Technology 40, 5 pp. 61-63. Sharpe, L., S. N. Moo, L. Crawford and S. Gopinathan (1994) Teacher Supervision: Patterns of Discourse Singapore, National Institute of Education. Smyth, W. and J. Fay (1994) Video Conferencing Between Schools in Northern Ireland and Schools in France Antrim, NEELB. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 85 of 104
  • 86. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Squire, K. D. and C. B. Johnson (2000) Supporting Distributive Communities of Practice with Interactive Television Educational Technology Research and Development, 48, pp. 23-43. Tang, J. C. and E. A. Isaacs (1995) Studies in multimedia-supported collaboration in: Emmott, S. J. (ed.) Information Super Highways New York, Academic Press, pp. 123-160. Thorpe, R. (1998) The Use of Personal Video Conferencing with Special Needs Pupils from Three Schools Serving Rural Areas: a case of successful adoption of new technology Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education 7, 3, pp. 395-412. Tiffin, J. and L. Rajasingham (1995) In Search of the Virtual Classroom: education in an information society, London, Routledge Tyler, C. (1999) Beyond the Content – video conferencing as a learning experience Speaking English 32, 2, pp. 15-27. Watson, A. and M. A. Sasse (1998) Measuring perceived quality of speech and video in multimedia conferencing applications Proceedings of the ACM Multimedia ‘98 Bristol 12-16 September, pp. 55-60. Wheeler, S. (2000) user reactions to Video conferencing: which students cope best? Education Media International 37, 1, pp. 31-38. Wright, N. and C. Cordeaux (1996) Rethinking Video conferencing: lessons learned from Initial Teacher Education Innovations in Education and Training International 33, 4, pp. 194- 202. Wright, N. and Whitehead, M. (1998) Video conferencing and GCSE oral practice Language Learning Journal 18, pp. 47-49. Yost, N. (2001) Lights, Camera, Action: Video conferencing in the Kindergarten Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2001, 1, pp. 3173- 3175. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 86 of 104
  • 87. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 2 DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Baseline survey Your school has kindly agreed to take part in the DfES/Becta video conferencing survey to be carried out by a team from Leicester and Cambridge Universities during 2003. This survey is to give us baseline information before we visit the schools. We would be very grateful if you (or another appropriate person) would answer the following questions and email the completed form Comber at cjfc1@le.ac.uk This form is designed to be completed on-screen and returned as an email attachment (return email address is given at the end of this survey form). If you prefer to complete it manually, please print off and return to the postal address at the end of this questionnaire. If printing off for manual completion, you are advised to create more space for your answers where necessary. 1. Background data about you and your school Date School name, address and contact details Your name Position in school Your role in video conferencing project Your email address Name and email address of anyone else who has responsibility for Becta video conferencing survey Name and email address of ICT co-ordinator Number of teaching staff (FTE) Number of ICT technicians (FTE) If you have no ICT technicians, what arrangements do you have for technical support? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 87 of 104
  • 88. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Type of school, including any specialist status Age range of pupils Mixed or single sex Number of pupils on roll Number in sixth form (if applicable) Percentage of students for whom English is not their first language Number of ethnic groups represented Number of pupils on SEN register Percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals Name and email address of person we can contact for details of student achievement 2. Details of ICT systems and equipment Who is your internet provider? (please name) Local authority Commercial provider pavilion Other Who controls your firewall (if applicable)? (please name) Do you have ADSL? Yes No (place X in box) If YES, what speed is it? If NO, how are you connected to the internet? How many PCs do you have for student use? How many PCs do you have for staff use? How many laptops do you have for student use? How many laptops do you have for staff use? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 88 of 104
  • 89. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 3. Video conferencing equipment What type of video conferencing equipment do you have? (place X in box) Intel Pro-Share Tandberg Polyspan/Polycom PictureTel Other (please specify) What method of transmission do you use? (place X in box) IP ISDN2 ISDN4 (or more) Where is your video conferencing equipment? (place X in box) Dedicated suite If yes, how many people can it hold? Stand-alone system If yes, how mobile is it? Webcam If yes, what type of room is it in? How do you watch video conferences? (place X in box) TV monitor PC monitor Whiteboard Interactive whiteboard Projection screen Other (please specify) Do you have an integral MCU bridge? Yes No (place X in box) Have you taken part in video conferences outside your own school? Yes No (place X in box) If yes, please name any venues May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 89 of 104
  • 90. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project 4. Ancillary equipment and software (place X in box) Do you have a document camera/visualiser? Do you use an interactive whiteboard in video conferencing? Do you use PowerPoint directly on the video conference? Do you participate in live applications sharing? (If yes, please specify below) Do you use any other software applications directly on the video conference? (If yes, please specify below) Do you use any other forms of communications media in conjunction with video conferencing, eg email? (If yes, please specify below) 5. Video conference use How long has your school been video conferencing? (check (X) the option which best fits your school’s situation) Haven’t started Just this term Since September 2002 Since September 2001 Since September 2000 Longer (please specify) When did your school last take part in a video conference? Haven’t started Last week Last month Last term Last school year Can’t remember May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 90 of 104
  • 91. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project How frequently is video conferencing used in your school? (place X in box) At least once a week At least once a month At least once a term Less often Which subject areas have used it since the beginning of September 2002? Which year groups have used it since the beginning of September 2002? Who does your school hold video conferences with? (check (X) any that apply to your school) Feeder school Secondary school you feed into Other school in the same LEA Other UK school Other European school Non-European school Other educational establishment (please specify) Commercial company (please specify) Other (please specify) Have you ever used multipoint conferencing? Yes No (place X in box) If yes, with whom (please specify)? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 91 of 104
  • 92. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Have you done any of the following? (check (X) any that apply to your school) Individual pupil to individual pupil conferencing Small group to small group conferencing Single class to single class conferencing Larger groups of pupils conferencing with each other Shared teaching of one or more groups Remote teaching of one or more groups Outside experts brought to the pupils Inset training for teachers Management meetings Job interviews Other (give brief details) Thank you very much for your time and co-operation Please return the completed form as an email attachment to Chris Comber at cjfc1@le.ac.uk May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 92 of 104
  • 93. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 3 Lead teacher interview schedule DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Interview with lead teacher Name of school ………………………………………………………………… Name of lead teacher …………………………………………………………… Familiarisation visit Date: • Description of video conferencing in school a) In general terms, how are the teachers using video conferencing in their teaching? b) Give a specific example/description of one way in which video conferencing is being used, which you would define as ‘best practice’. c) In general terms, describe the way that students/pupils are responding to video conferencing. d) With which other institutions/individuals has video conferencing been used (secondary schools, primary schools, HE, other countries, experts/AOTs, remote teachers, etc)? e) Describe the range of different ways/teaching and learning strategies that video conferencing facilities have been used (‘buddy interactions’, expert to students, curricular activities, one-to-one contact, one-to-many, formal teaching, remote delivery of courses, etc). f) Which members of staff/departments have been most actively involved in developing video conferencing so far? (names and positions along with examples if not gleaned from 1a) g) How is access to video conferencing facilities organised (eg open access to all departments, restricted access to only some departments, is access always supervised, school time only or flexible time to accommodate time zones, etc)? • Aims and objectives of using networked technologies a) What do you see as the aims and objectives of using video conferencing in your school? b) How has the school attempted to achieve those aims and objectives? c) What do you see as the benefits of using video conferencing for: • staff? • students? d) What do you see as the problems of using video conferencing for: • staff? • students? e) What would you see as an ‘ineffective’ use of video conferencing? f) Can you name a group of students who have been particularly successful in using video conferencing? (for present or future visit) • Curriculum issues a) What do you see as the impact of video conferencing on the students’ learning? b) Can you cite any evidence that using video conferencing has impacted upon student attainment? c) Describe any impact on the teaching styles used in your school that you think video conferencing has had (eg teacher-pupil relationships, your role in the classroom, etc). d) How does the age of the pupils affect the way they use video conferencing? e) Do you perceive any gender differences in approach to/use of video conferencing? Please describe any differences noticed. f) How have disaffected/disengaged pupils used/responded to video conferencing? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 93 of 104
  • 94. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project g) How have SEN pupils used/responded to video conferencing? h) Are there any other groups of pupils who have responded well to video conferencing? • Training a) What training in video conferencing has been provided for: (i) staff? (ii) students? (Who provided it and how was it funded?) b) How useful in general do you think any training was? c) What further training would you think is needed/is planned to promote the use of video conferencing? d) Does the school have ‘innovators’ in video conferencing and, if so, how are they used for training/ dissemination of good practice/staff development? • Management of video conferencing facilities a) Who has overall responsibility for managing the video conferencing facilities? b) Do you attempt to monitor/record student use of video conferencing? If so, how is this done? c) What were the important factors in planning and organising the physical space used for video conferencing? d) What future plans are in place for developing the use of video conferencing? (Is there a formal development plan/school development plan? If so, get copy.) e) How will these developments be financed? f) Have you, as a manager, encountered any problems in using video conferencing? (organisational, time, hardware, software constraints, communication with other users) g) Who controls your firewall and are there any particular problems associated with firewalls? h) What did your last Ofsted report say about video conferencing in the school and how has the school responded? • Practical issues a) How are/were contacts made with remote interested parties? b) Are students rehearsed before they are allowed to access the video conferencing facilities? c) Is there a set of rules of ‘netiquette’ available to students? d) Are students made aware of issues such as the colour of their clothes, movement in the conferencing room? e) How are interactions managed when video conferencing is taking place? (teacher’s role, turn-taking rules, etc) f) What technical support is available during video conferencing sessions? g) What are the most important factors in your view affecting the success or otherwise of a video conferencing session? h) Are the size of your video conferencing screen and the quality of audio output factors in the success or otherwise of video conferencing events? Thank you for your time and co-operation. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 94 of 104
  • 95. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 4 Teacher-user interview schedule DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Interview with teacher-user Name ………………………………. Position ………………………….. School ……………………………... Date ………………………………. Background information 1. How many years have you been teaching? 2. When did you come to work in X school? 3. What age groups and subjects do you teach here? 4. How would you describe yourself in relation to using ICT in your teaching – a novice, fairly experienced or an expert? Training for video conferencing 5. What training in video conferencing have you had? (Who? What sort? When? Was it any good?) 6. What training do you think you still need in video conferencing? Using video conferencing 7. How did you initially get involved in video conferencing? 8. Give an example of how you have used video conferencing in your main subject or specialism area: – in the last week? – in the last month? – in the last year? 9. In planning this activity, what influenced you in deciding how to use video conferencing? (For example, was it another teacher or something you read?) 10. Describe the best way in which you use video conferencing with the students/pupils? 11. If it is different, describe the best experience you have had in using video conferencing? 12. In planning this activity, what were the learning outcomes you had in mind? 13. What was the worst experience you have had in a video conferencing session and what caused the problems? 14. How often would you say that you use video conferencing with your students/pupils each term? 15. Have you used any of the following video conferencing activities over the last year? Give examples where you have: a) pupils-to-remote-pupils interactions? b) pupils to experts/AOTs? c) delivery of a lesson/course of study by remote teacher or to remote pupils? d) joint delivery of lessons/course of study with remote others? e) with others in distant countries? f) with other institutions (primary schools, HE, etc)? 16. Is the use of video conferencing integrated into your schemes of work and lesson plans? 17. How do you keep records of students’/pupils’ use of video conferencing? 18. In planning a video conferencing session, what special practical arrangements do you have to make? 19. How have you prepared your pupils/students to use video conferencing effectively? 20. Do you have a set of guidelines for pupils on the ‘netiquette’ of using video conferencing? Can we have a copy? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 95 of 104
  • 96. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Your attitudes to video conferencing 21. What do you think your students/pupils gain/can gain from video conferencing? 22. What are the problems you experience with video conferencing (technical and curricular)? 23. What level of technical support do you have when video conferencing? 24. Can you give an example of where you think video conferencing has increased achievement of your students/pupils? Any evidence that this is so? 25. How useful and in what ways is video conferencing useful for your curriculum area/specialism? 26. What is your role as teacher during video conferencing sessions? 27. Do you think that there are any differences in the use of video conferencing according to the age/gender/ability of the students? 28. What does using video conferencing give you that a ‘normal’ classroom lesson does not? The future 29. Have you/the department any plans – formal or informal – for future use of video conferencing with your students? Thank you for your help and time. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 96 of 104
  • 97. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 5 Headteacher interview schedule DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Interview with principal Name of school ……………………………………………………………… Name of principal …………………………………………………………… Familiarisation visit Date: Aims and objectives of using video conferencing a) What was the rationale for introducing video conferencing capability into your school? b) Have you a whole-school policy on ICT use in the school and where does video conferencing fit into it? (Get copy of policy if available) c) Do you use/have you used the video conferencing facilities yourself and, if yes, for what purpose? d) How do you see the school developing its use of video conferencing in the future? e) How have the video conferencing facilities been financed and how will future developments be budgeted for? Benefits and impact f) What do you see as the benefits of using video conferencing for: • staff? • students? g) What do you see as the problems of using video conferencing for: • staff? • students? h) Can you cite any evidence that using video conferencing has assisted student learning? i) Describe, in your own words, any impact on the teaching styles used in your school that video conferencing has had. j) Does the school attempt to monitor student use of video conferencing technologies and, if so, how is this done? Thank you for your co-operation. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 97 of 104
  • 98. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 6 Calendar Calendar of video conferencing activities for 2003 at ……………………. Date 1 Date 2 etc… Subject area(s) Group size and number of teachers present at home site Year group(s) of home students Number and location of sites connected into video conference Group size and number of teachers present at remote site(s) Age group of remote pupils Title and brief description of video conference activities Role of participants in video conference including teachers and pupils, ‘experts’, support staff, parent helpers, etc General aims of video conference Specific learning objectives of video conference Number of times same video conference held this term Access to/use of any technical support during conference May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 98 of 104
  • 99. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 7 Email diary (teachers) DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Email diary accounts Thank you for agreeing to keep an ‘email diary’ of your use of the video conferencing facilities. Each time that you use video conferencing, please complete the following questions, save the file as an RTF file and email it to mailto:tla2@le.ac.uk. Name of teacher …………………………… School .……………………….. Date of video conference ………………………… Curriculum area/context of the session ……………………………………. 1. Briefly describe what went on in the video conference. 2. How did this session fit into your scheme of work? 3. Why did you choose video conferencing for this aspect of your scheme of work? 4. What are the specific learning outcomes you hoped to achieve in this session? 5. What evidence do you have that the learning outcomes were achieved? 6. Who prepared the content of the session at your end (teacher only, students only, combination) and how long did it take? 7. How did you prepare your pupils for this session? 8. How engaged do you think all of your pupils were during this session? 9. What follow-up work, if any, are you planning with this group? 10. How were relationships with your remote partner(s) established? 11. How did you go about arranging the timing, content and process of the video conference with your remote partner(s)? 12. How were the technical aspects (making the video conferencing connection, managing the camera, microphone, etc) organised? 13. How good was the quality of video and audio during this session? 14. What was the most successful aspect of the session? 15. If you could go back and change any aspect of the session, what would that be? 16. Was there any other aspect about the session that struck you as interesting? Thank you for taking the time to do this. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 99 of 104
  • 100. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 8 Video conference observation checklist General information about the video conference Date …………………………………………………………………………….. Time ……………………………………………………………………………. Length …………………………………………………………………………… Curriculum subject ……………………………………………………………… Year group/ability group (if appropriate) ………………………………………. General format …………………………………………………………………. Objective(s) …………………………………………………………………….. Information about the local school Name …………………………………………………………………………… Teacher responsible ……………………………………………………………. Number of students involved ………………………………………………….. Technician present? ……………………………………………………………. Other adults present? …………………………………………………………... Location in school ……………………………………………………………… Information about the remote site Remote school/institution ……………………………………………………… Remote teacher/expert …………………………………………………………. Number of students involved ………………………………………………….. Normal language used …………………………………………………………. Technical issues Could all the students focus easily on the screen at the local end? ……………. Was the sound adequate at both ends? ………………………………………… Were there any other technical problems? …………………………………….. Who operated the camera controls (local end)? ……………………………….. Were pre-set camera positions used (local end)? ……………………………… Did the camera zoom in to show faces of individuals (either end)? ………….. May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 100 of 104
  • 101. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 9 Guide to interviews with primary pupils The aim of this is to encourage a facilitated dialogue, rather than a formal question and answer session. Students spend approximately 10 minutes completing stimulus sheet and further 10 to 20 minutes discussing video conferencing experiences. Themes • Learning (recall, what was learnt, how it was reinforced by video conferencing) • Speaking and listening (interaction/engagement) • Special points (special features, key moments) • Differences (contrasts between video conferencing and other lessons) Procedure • Give each student an A3 ‘prompt’ sheet that is intended to act as a stimulus for discussion. This consists of four boxes, each representing key themes involved in video conferencing participation. • Ask students to recall specific examples from video conferencing and to describe briefly in each of the boxes: o Learning – recall what it is they did (the nature of the activity), what they learned and in what ways they think video conferencing helped them to learn, how the video conferencing session helped with the rest of the subject/topic o Speaking and listening – individual role of pupils, role of other people involved in speaking and listening, interaction and engagement with others o Special points – special features of video conferencing, key moments o Differences between video conferencing session and other lessons (can include content as well as other issues such as motivation, attitude towards geographical distance) To limit the time spent on this, which is intended as a stimulus to discussion, perhaps ask the students to decide on two of those areas (ie each student chooses independently so hopefully all four situations are covered). • Use their examples to develop an open discussion to explore: o Teaching and learning issues, eg any differences between students about what they learned and role of video conferencing in learning o Added value of video conferencing, eg how it lifts confidence, speaking and listening skills o Attitudinal issues, eg confidence, anxiety, motivation when participating in video conferencing o Levels of engagement and participation in video conferencing sessions compared to other lessons o What is valued about video conferencing experience compared to other lessons May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 101 of 104
  • 102. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 10 Guide to interviews with secondary pupils Learning Ask for a brief explanation of what today’s conference was about: • What did you learn from the conference? • Any interesting points to emerge? • Subject/topic-specific points • How others live/work • Speaking and listening skills/confidence • In what ways has video conferencing helped you to learn? o Impact of video conferencing on recall compared to other lessons o Significance of activities involved in video conferencing • Have you had any experiences where you feel that video conferencing was not helpful? • How helpful would it be to introduce video conferencing into other lessons and subjects? Interaction/involvement • Explain your role in a video conference o Any direct presentation/contribution/questions? o Communication with video conferencing partner(s), teacher and with classmates o Time spent listening to others o What students tend to do while others are speaking? o Control of camera/microphone or other video conferencing equipment • Describe periods in video conference when you are allowed time to raise questions/issues o Feelings about making direct contribution/presentation o Willingness to ask questions throughout video conference o Satisfaction with discussion and way any questions are answered o Satisfaction with time allocated to discussion o Standards of behaviour from classmates and remote partners • In what way does your involvement in video conferencing compare to involvement in other lessons? • Describe the most enjoyable/valuable exchanges that you have experienced in a video conference? Motivation • What do you think/feel when you know that your lesson will involve video conferencing? • How does this compare to your attitude/feelings towards other lessons? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 102 of 104
  • 103. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project • Have you ever been disappointed about what you have experienced in a video conferencing lesson?  Explain further  In what way has this affected your opinion of video conferencing? Differences • What is special to you about the video conferencing experience? • What do you value/enjoy? • Are there any negative points about video conferencing? o Content/activities o Level of involvement • What differences are there between video conferencing lessons and other lessons? o Content/activities o Level of involvement May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 103 of 104
  • 104. Becta | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project Appendix 11 ‘Exit’ interview schedule • Questions for use with schools which were and were not the subject of case studies. • Core questions are marked in italics and should be prioritised. • Create space below each question for notes. • We need to emphasise in each case that we are interested in any changes/developments since our first (‘familiarisation’) visit, which for most schools took place in May/June. Therefore, something like: “Compared to the situation since we first visited the school in dd/mm/yy...” needs to be in every question. 1 a) In general terms, how are the teachers now using video conferencing in their lessons, since the first visit in dd/mm? b) In general terms, describe the way that students/pupils are responding to video conferencing, since the first visit in dd/mm. c) With which other institutions/individuals has video conferencing been used since my last visit? (with other secondary schools, primary schools, HE, other countries, experts/AOTs, remote teachers, etc) d) How has the organisation of access to video conferencing been changed in the light of its use so far? (eg open access to all departments, restricted access to only some departments, access always supervised, school time only, flexible time to accommodate time zones, etc) 2 a) Have there been any unanticipated benefits or problems so far from using video conferencing for pupils or staff? b) Has your view of what makes effective video conferencing changed over time? 3 a) Has there been a noticeable impact on students’/pupils’ learning? If yes, has the impact been most marked on any particular group? (eg gender, ethnicity, disaffected/disengaged, SEN, age group, etc) b) Has there been a measurable/noticeable impact on students’/pupils’ attainment? c) If you had to make a case to the DfES as to why they should continue to support or to develop further the use of video conferencing in schools, what would it be? (Prompt: What evidence could you offer to support your case?) (Supplementary question if issue not raised in answer: If the DfES required evidence that video conferencing contributed to raising attainment, what kind of evidence might you be able to offer?) 4 a) What additional training do you think is now needed for video conferencing in the light of your/your school’s experience? b) How is video conferencing being embedded in curriculum objectives? c) How is video conferencing being spread more widely through the school? d) Who are the people in the school who are most likely to take video conferencing forward? Why and how? What would happen if those people left? 5 a) Have there been any changes since our first meeting in the attitude of the senior management team to video conferencing? b) Has your experience of video conferencing changed or confirmed your plans or your school’s plans for its development? c) What plans are currently in place for the development of video conferencing? d) What would you see, in the light of your experience, as the main obstacles to the realisation of those plans? (time, remote contacts, financial, logistical, staffing, technical, software, SMT attitude...) 6 Overall, are you pleased or disappointed about progress so far and are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of video conferencing at your school? May 2004 http://www.becta.org.uk page 104 of 104