Scholarship mentoring is in its second week and some technical hitches have started to settled down. We have made a significant shift away from traditional video conferencing units tucked away in a room somewhere, to the use of desktop video conferencing in the form of google hangouts. This allows greater flexibility for students and teachers and broadens participating schools to include non VLN. This has certainly brought its share of headaches, but Ken has been sorting through these issues as they have come and sessions are now starting to run more smoothly. I am going to get feedback from students on the experience so far, which will give us a picture of how things have gone at an individual level. If these sessions prove to be a positive experience we can look to expand the use of google hangouts through our full year courses in 2015.
I have dropped into a few session and I have to say that over a fibre connection the quality of the conference has been exceptional. The setup of the conference itself, the easy screen sharing and chat options, all make our traditional video conferencing look positively archaic.
You then throw the release of Chromebox for Meetings units, at a very reasonable rate of around $1600 and you start to see some major opportunities for the future. These very small and mobile units come with the box, a microphone and HD camera and can be plugged into a flat screen TV, monitor of Data Projector. They can be set up in a room and students would just come in, no login required, and simply dial into the calendared event and they are there. Very simple. Considering the difficulties we have had with the bridge in recent years it seems a very attractive option, especially if your VC gear is getting old.
Alongside this change has been a move away from a Moodle course for each Scholarship group to the use of a google+ community. In a way it reflects a move away from a didactic teacher directed environment to a rich, engaging community where all participants can talk, share and discuss very easily. It’s a perfect setup for these sorts of short courses.
Watch this space…