Friday, December 2, 2016

Going Beyond Skyping with Grandma

Today I presented a workshop at the Regional Technology Awareness Day 2016.  I called it "Video Conferencing with Elementary Students:  Going Beyond Skyping with Grandma." You know I love my Skypes and opening up my library to the world and, consequently, the world to my students.  It's one of my favorite things I do in my job.

I don't have a website that I can post information so decided to include some of my resources here. That way you all can benefit!

I've used four different types of video conferencing tools with my students in three different areas of the building with as few as a half dozen kids to as many as two grade levels.


Probably the most popular and simplest to use.  Almost everyone has Skype or can easily download it to their computer.  It's free and easily accessible.  Perfect for author visits and classroom mystery connections (ie, what state do you live in and give hints).  Sometimes it is spotty with the connection, however, lately I haven't had any trouble with it (watch now I will!).  New features of Skype:  group calls and screen sharing.  This really brings it to the forefront of the video conferencing tools available, especially since there is no cost involved!

Look closely and you can see the "Skype" on the screen.
This is Stephanie and she is a towboat captain in the Gulf.  She Skyped us from her boat.


If you and the person/people you are video conferencing with have an Apple product, this is the video chatting tool to use.  You can use it from your Apple phone, iPad or computer.  I have plugged my dongle into my phone and projected it straight onto my SmartBoard.  Sometimes I have challenges with it with our wifi at school and sometimes it has worked beautifully. The image is usually clearer than Skype when it works.  

I've read that you can get FaceTime for Android and PC devices now, but haven't tried it myself.

FaceTiming with a monorail pilot!

Google Hangout

We had a semi great experience with this once when video chatting with an author/illustrator couple that were living in two different states.  We could hear them but they couldn't hear us or there was bad feedback when we tried the sound.  This was an unusual experience and I understand that it can be very easy.  I know high school teachers promote this for students to use with each other to work on homework.

This is Anna Kang. Look closely and you can see Chris Weyant at the bottom of the screen.

And here's the illustrator, Chris Weyant holding up a sketch for us!

Cisco WebEx

WebEx is a paid video conferencing tool where you get a link and ask all participants to log on using that link.  I used it a couple of times last year and it was cool because the authors were able to share their computer screens with us so we were able to see early versions of books.  Unless you are using a lot of video conferencing with sharing of documents during the chat, the free tools would work just fine for your needs.

This is WebEx.  You can see Daniel' Miyares's name at the bottom left corner of the screen.


Hop on over to Rabbit because it is just starting to launch into education so you can be at the forefront of it all.  This is a group video chatting app that gives participants the opportunities to engage in activities together (ie, watch videos, karaoke, play games).  I haven't used it but thought it would be great for teachers who are flipping their classrooms.  Students could watch the videos together at the same time and have conversations, ask questions, solve problems in real time.  It's free, too.  Check it out and let me know what you think and how you might be able to incorporate it in your classroom.

And Just a Few More...Doing the same thing...It's just what you prefer...


Popular with teens (maybe?). You can video chat with up to 12 people at a time. You can record your video chat for later and text during while chatting.


Chat with up to 12 people at one time.  No fee, no registration and no login.

Free photo, text, phone call sharing with other Viber uses.  Really not necessary in the classroom but could be a useful tool if you were going out of the country and wanted to keep in touch with family and friends and didn't want to get a phone plan.

If you have any questions or just want to talk this through a little more, don't hesitate to email me at

"Panel Folks"

If you were at my presentation you were lucky enough to "meet":

Emma Virjan "Author/Illustrator" Extraordinaire from Austin, Texas.  She has a new Pig in a Wig book coming out in January.  Check out her website here.

Stephanie Cavaliere, Towboat Pilot in the Gulf

Jennifer Underhill, Florida State University Schools, School Librarian, University School Associate Professor--Mystery Skypes are Fun!

Jacob Bogage, Reporter for the Washington Post

I'm so glad they were able to video conference in today! How fun was that?!

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