Expanding the Learning Environment: Videoconferencing to Open Classroom Doors? The Experiences of Videoconference Participants in the US and New Zealand

By Billy O'Steen.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While advances in technology have led to significant changes in business practices, parallel changes in classroom practices have occurred in fits and starts – if at all. Consider how dependent businesses have become on conference calls, emails, and videoconferences to connect people in different physical locations. Are there similar applications of technology that can be used in the classroom? If so, how do we know if these applications can positively affect classroom practice before uncritically rushing into devoting effort, money, and time on them? These questions are being considered within the context of the experiences of recent participants in two different forms of videoconferencing. In North Carolina, USA, teacher education students virtually visited classrooms around the state through participating teachers’ use of laptops and web cameras. Thus, prospective teachers were able to learn from current teachers in action and in classrooms that were quite different than those visited around our suburban university campus. Across the globe in New Zealand, postgraduate tertiary teaching students (all current academics) in Christchurch used the Access Grid - a dynamic Windows-based videoconference technology - to collaborate with colleagues in Dunedin who were taking the same course. Because all of these participants entered these experiences in dual roles as both students using the technology and teachers considering using the technology, their reflections are particularly critical and insightful about the potential challenges and opportunities in learning and teaching with videoconference technology.

Keywords: Videoconference, Experiential Education, Teacher Education, Professional Development

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp.153-162. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 877.877KB).

Dr Billy O'Steen

Lecturer, University Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Billy O’Steen is a Lecturer of Higher Education at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. His teaching and research focus on innovative curriculum design, professional development, and teacher education. He received his B.A. in English and History from Vanderbilt University and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Prior to his current appointment, his experiences include working as a Peace Corps administrator, teaching English at a high school in Tennessee and two community colleges in California, guiding whitewater raft trips, and facilitating multi-cultural education programs in Brazil and Tennessee. In 1994, he created and directed Nature’s Way Middle School - a school dedicated to curriculum integration through experiential education and service-learning. He has facilitated workshops and presented at international and regional conferences and his work has appeared in various publications including the Journal of Experiential Education, The Creative College Teaching Journal, and The Handbook of Research on Middle Level Education. While an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at North Carolina State University, he was honored as a Service-Learning Faculty Fellow for 2003-2005 and as the 2003-2004 Outstanding Teacher of the College of Education. Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Billy now lives in Christchurch with his wife, Susan, and children, Lawson and Stewart.

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