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‘eTwinning Flashmeeting’ Video Conference Pilot Report February 2007
Flashmeeting is simple one click webcam video conferencing tool. It runs in a
normal web page. The only requirement is a webcam, microphone (normally
integrated into the webcam) and macromedia flash 7 or greater plug in. It is ideal for
education in that it is simple to use, low tech, highly effective, yet safe and secure.
Users have to be authorised to be able to book a vc session and they then invite
others into the conference by sharing the URL address. Conferences can be
recorded for later use, review or replay. The tool incorporates the facility to text chat,
share url’s, and even to vote on a topic or issue during the conference. This webcam
conferencing tool is suitable for teacher or pupil live meetings, one to one, small
group and multi location video conferences. It can be projected and viewed on a
Flashmeeting is a project of The Centre for New Media, which is a part of The
Knowledge Media Institute, based at The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
Since the start of the ‘eTwinning’ action in January 2005 schools had been showing
increasing interest in a video conferencing solution to use in their partnerships.
Conventional video conferencing uses expensive equipment, needs a high grade
network or a dedicated isdn line in a fixed room. This is beyond the network
capabilities within most European countries even if the costs of equipment could be
met by schools. The eTwininng portal does suggest the use of external webcam
conferencing tools such as Yahoo Messenger, Net meeting and Skype. Schools
however are normally ‘blocked’ from using these for esafety reasons as they are not
deemed secure for in school use. At the Annual eTwinning event in Linz in 2006 the
webcam conferencing tool ‘Flashmeeting’ was introduced to the CSS team as a
suitable solution ‘fit for purpose’ for eTwinning schools.
Setting up the Pilot
Negotiations took place between European Schoolnet , the Centre of New Media
and E2bn who host the service on behalf of schools in the UK. An agreement was
reached to run a free pilot of the Flashmeeting video conferencing tool between
March and August 2006.
24 eTwinning schools and 6 EU Central Support Staff were identified by CSS and
were registered for the ‘Flashmeeting’ vc trial.
A blog was also set up for users to share experiences and for feedback.
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In September 2006 the Pilot schools and individuals were asked to complete a
questionnaire seeking their views and comments on its use in their projects and staff
collaborations. Twelve responses were received. Feedback received was
favourable. Six schools had used the tool on a regular basis in their ‘eTwinning’
Projects. During the four school months these schools had on average taken part in
10 conferences each. 5 schools had participated in 49 conferences. It was usual
that conferences took place between 2 partner schools although one ‘eTwinning’
partnership involved 3 schools in regular vc collaboration. The majority of vc’s
involved pupil to pupil collaboration and usually small groups. However teachers had
also used the tool for planning meetings and discussing project progress.
Staff at the EU Central Support Service had also found the tool useful for internal
‘We have been using ‘It was great to talk live
Flashmeeting quite a lot, even to pupils from the
for some internal meetings school in Spain.
with great success. There were We get to speak with
even inquiries from the city of kids we would not
Munich to test and evaluate otherwise meet. We are
the tool.’ different yet the same!’
(EU staff member) (UK pupil)
Progress September 2007
The pilot was extended for the rest of the academic year 2006/7 and any
school or education personnel involved in the ‘eTwinning’ action is welcome to
join the trial.
As of February 2007 there are now 92 ‘eTwinning’ schools / individuals
registered as users of Flashmeeting. The majority are staff in schools, others
are, educational staff at CSS, NSS or staff within a European country
requesting a Flashmeeting account to promote its use for ‘eTwinning.’
The breakdown of users in each Country are as follows:
Austria – 1 Belgium – 2 Czech – 3 Finland – 4
France – 6 Germany – 4 Greece – 1 Hungary – 4
Italy – 2 Luxemburg – 1 Malta – 1 Netherlands – 2
Norway – 6 Poland – 1 Slovenia – 1 Spain – 2
Sweden – 9 UK – 34 There are 8 registered users at CSS
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In addition to the above there are 100+ Flashmeeting accounts set up for
other schools and individuals across Europe plus another 100+ International
accounts. These accounts were created as a result of requests direct to the
Open University or the Flashmeeting website.
More Views regarding Flashmeeting VC’s from Children ……..
“I like listening and talking to children from different countries because you
find out about their hobbies and interests. You learn its important to listen and
take turns at talking”
“When we vc we know there’s other kids here and they’re our age and we get
to know them. We try to speak clearly so we are understood. Its very different
from speaking to our classmates in French. This is real. We have to plan
what we are going to say. I have to practise my French more so that I don’t
“I can learn how they say some words ….. It’s great to
learn how to say words in another language”
“We sang Christmas Carols to each other. We sang in
French and their school sang in English. It was hard but real fun. I wish we
could do more of this linking with kids in other countries”
and Staff ……..
“Our kids confidence to speak to others adults and children has improved .
They love it!”
“The pupils are captivated. They absolutely loved it. They learnt in a real way.
It’s more motivating than learning from the teacher or from books.”
“After the vc the pupils wanted to find out more from books and other research
“VC has helped our kids make fantastic progress in their confidence and its
spilling over into lessons, its spilling over into their enthusiasm for learning”
“After our vc sessions pupils were getting involved in class like they never had
done before because it suddenly brought reality to topics being covered in the
classroom. The difference is enormous and instant real
learning a willingness and keenness to find out from others.”
“Its great, its cheap, easy to set up, low tech, kids love it and
learn in real ways.”
Some links to FM video conferences.
World Cup Football discussion Germany / UK
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etwinning tv discussion Finland / UK
Comparing foods UK / Germany
Etwinning Finland /UK
George Spurgen School
‘Dickens brought back to life’
Shi Yan Xiao Xue and Porters Grange Primary
China / UK
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Future Developments for FM May 2007?
The site will have a new look and feel: E2BN are designing a new front end
more focussed at the education sector, with schools in mind.
The updated version has a ‘Flashboard’ Whiteboard facility. Users can create
content on the Flashboard. Everybody sees and has access to the contents of
the whiteboard simultaneously.
There are a range of tools available and you can even load a Presentation
List of presaved slides to show during the conference.
There is also a document sharing facility.
Another new addition is the key Folksonomy page which shows a list of the
top keywords associated with publicly available replays of Flashmeetings.
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The Way Forward:
v Feature Flashmeeting on the external tools section of the eTwinning
v Promote FM at eTwinning events across Europe to increase the
number of school users.
v Practical workshop sessions at eTwinning conferences – hands on
practical demonstrations to show its potential and ease of use.
v Provide and support a range of live pre booked Flashmeeting
conferences for registered colleagues to ‘try out’ and get familiar with
v Flashmeeting is used across Europe and internationally, instructions for
use need to be available in many languages.
v To investigate the integration of ‘Flashmeeting’ as a permanent tool on
the ‘eTwinning’ Portal
John Warwick UK eTwinning Ambassador,
‘eTwinning’ FM Trial Coordinator
Report dated 19 February 2007
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