Classroom Management






Sample Assignment for "An Arctic Year" Web Site

Videoconferencing Resources


Videoconferences provide unique opportunities for students to interact. In a videoconference class, students can talk with instructors, students, and others at receiving sites, and they can publish and share their work with an audience beyond the classroom. However, interactions during a videoconference require careful planning and structuring to make them effective and enjoyable. Instructors must plan for hardware and software needs at all sites and coordinate with teaching partners. Generally, interaction via a videoconference is more complex than traditional classroom interactions and requires more time in both preparation and implementation; the more complex the activity, the more time an instructor must take to chart out the steps and coordinate with the videoconference team. The following information offers issues to consider when planning interaction and activities.

Activities to Consider

Interactions may occur among students, the instructional materials they study, the technology, their classmates on site, classmates at receiving sites, instructors, and the world. These activities can foster interaction in during a videoconference.

  • Projects
  • Demonstrations
  • Discussions and debates
  • Experiments and investigations
  • Skits, plays
  • Role-plays
  • Presentations
  • Questions-and-answer periods
  • Brainstorming
  • Sketchbooks and art activities
  • Story boards, organizational charts, or outlines
  • Games
  • Writing assignments and journal activities
  • Worksheets, puzzles, tests, and other paper-based activities


Projects are excellent tools for creating interaction in a videoconference course. They involve hands-on learning, and they engage students in the application of concepts. Projects promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills by providing students with the opportunities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate their activities. Additionally, project-based learning provides flexibility with class time and enhances instructors' abilities to address individual site and student needs. This instructional model also provides time for the lead teacher to speak with students individually, provide encouragement, comment on work or clarify instruction.

Arctic Celebrations and An Arctic Year are examples of two student projects that were part of a Web Development and Management videoconference class. North Slope Borough School District students in six outlying villages designed and produced Web sites. They recorded observations, images and elder's stories about their Arctic home. You may view these projects at: http://www.nsbsd.12.ak.us/projects

  Videoconferencing is best used with projects as a way of linking students with the lead teacher, and these meetings are most productive when students are actively engaged in the concepts, rather than simply presenting outcomes. These meetings with the lead teacher can be with the whole class at a single receiving site, a group of students, or individual students. Conferencing with students in this manner can involve connecting with all sites two or three days per week and with individual sites as needed. Student presentations on projects via a videoconference can be shared with all sites; however, presentations are best given over several days because students lose interest quickly when not presenting or not directly involved with the broadcast. Projects are most effective as teaching tools when a lead teacher:  
  • Keeps project instructions simple and clear
  • Provides assignment sheets with a well defined evaluation rubric
  • Provides examples so that students know what they are expected to accomplish
  • Anticipates difficulties and problems students may encounter to better help students to work through them
  • Assigns projects that at least one instructor has had experience with
  • Has supplies and materials delivered to receiving sites prior to assigning the project
  • Has surplus materials available
  • Designs projects that involve students' and the community's interest
  • Shares students' work and projects with all sites
  • Includes specific criteria for final project assessment, but remains open to interpretation and individual solution
We have had great success with large projects as culminating events to skill development. These have included Web sites on specific topics, scientific in-vestigations, science fairs, art shows, and community presentations. Projects can be highly motivational, they give students practice in the skills they will need as adults, and they are effective assessment tools.

Planning for Interaction

Students learn more when they are actively involved in their education. A minimum of 50 percent of a videoconference class should involve students interacting with each other. The following are questions to consider when planning for interaction in a videoconference course.

  • What type of interaction will occur?
  • How will the interaction occur? (E-mail? Videoconference session? Web site?)
  • Does interaction support learning objectives and goals?
  • When will the interaction occur?
    • During the scheduled videoconference class time?
    • During class with the videoconference connection off?
    • Outside class time?
  • Are support materials available at sites for class activities?
  • Are activities pursued individually or within small groups?
  • Will group activities involve small groups of students or sites?
  • Will every student interact, or will each site select a spokesperson?
  • Does interaction have a culminating activity that allows students to share or publish?

Strategies to Encourage Interaction

  • Use a checklist to ensure interaction occurs with each site or student. The sample worksheet below shows how to plan for the number and type of activities for a lesson. A blank worksheet can be found at the end of this chapter.
  • Plan group activities that culminate with opportunities to share work or projects with the entire videoconference class.
  • Allow time for introductions, and introduce people that may not appear on camera. Whenever possible, move cameras so that people appear on screen when they are introduced.
  • Allow ample time for students to answer questions and interact. Interaction will require more time than in a traditional classroom because of the need to set up hardware and software and because of possible transmission delays.
  • Assign a site spokesperson and rotate this responsibility. This allows for interaction but requires less time.
  • When asking questions, call on a specific site or student. Rotate the order in which sites or students are called. This eliminates problems of no one speaking or everyone speaking at once when a question is asked.
  • Ask specific sites to respond to comments made by another site in order to enhance discussion.
  • Display discussion questions on screen in via document camera or presentation software

Interaction Check Sheet



Class members or spokesperson


Questions or



















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