Evaluation for the DfES
Video Conferencing in the
Classroom project

Final Report


University of Leicester, School of Edu...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Acknowledgements

The members of the evalu...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


CONTENTS

Section 1..........................
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project



Section 4...................................
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Section 8....................................
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Section 1
Executive summary

1          Ba...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


    1.2.2 Evaluation framework

The evalua...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


1.3        Main findings

    1.3.1 Baseli...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


    1.3.4 Strategic issues

•     The inte...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


identified a number of factors which are a...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


•   Senior management in schools introduci...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Section 2
Introduction

2          Backgro...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


2.1        The DfES video conferencing in ...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project



 2.1.4 Support

Prior to the Project, man...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Individual level:
            • the percep...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


2.3        Sample and methods 2

The main ...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


the theme of video conferencing as a means...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project



Section 3
Baseline survey: Sample charact...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


number of learners in a school was 19 in a...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


                •    Tandberg
            ...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


3.10       Age range

A wide range of year...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


3.12       Modes of use

 3.12.1 Type of u...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Section 4
Models of video conferencing use...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


Each of these categories is now described ...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


                •    Links between local s...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project



 4.2.1 Structural factors

Pattern of int...
Becta   | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


autistic disorders to offer video conferen...
Becta      | Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom project


At the other end of the scale is the ‘f...
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Evaluation for the DfES video conferencing in the classroom ...

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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