You wouldn’t necessarily think that schoolchildren are going to be at that video conference, but remote collaboration is fast becoming a regular part of the classroom and other learning environments for all ages.
For example, High Tech Youth Studio empowers students aged 8-25 in underserved communities in the Pacific with Lights, camera and creativity. This program originated in Otara, New Zealand ten years ago and has grown from six students on the first day to 30 on the second day and over 600 participants today. According to the article, this program is designed to be a safe place for youth to expand their horizons:
” … the range of creative expression will be nearly infinite. The after-school facilities will offer state-of-the-art learning where youth can experiment with animation, robotics, engineering, website design, video game development, software coding and music and video production.”
On the other side of the world, Kids build robots, explore engineering ingenuity, and do it with the help of video conferencing. The Robot Garage sends boxes of parts to places like a library in remote areas and then connect in a video conference to a room of kids exploring the science of robotics. According to Beth Weigel, programming and events coordinator for Juneau Public Libraries:
“The event is a combination of a video conference with the Museum of Flight, using the OWL (online learning) system to connect with them to talk about the history of robots, where things are going in the field and the kind of things they can be used for such as in space, in the home and just everyday use,”
It’s exciting to see what technology is being used to do in education all over the globe. WhyGo has seen a lot of changes happen in video conferencing and we look forward to seeing what will happen next!
Sometimes it is helpful to have a checklist of things to go over before the actual video conference starts. If you are using the WhyGo Outlook Plug-in and network for your meeting, some of these will be automatically covered.
Video Conference Planning Checklist
- Contact all attendees and coordinate an appropriate date
- Verify attendance and the mode they will be using to attend the video conference
- Email everyone the agenda and contact information, including who is in charge at each location
- Email reminders of basic video conference etiquette and procedure
- Contact those in charge at each location to answer questions and verify individual tech needs and alternate procedures including troubleshooting
- Do test runs of all connections before the meeting starts with the same providers, etc. that will be used during the meeting
- Make any changes that are needed as a result of your test runs
- After the meeting ask for feedback and suggestions to improve the next videoconference
The Foundational Importance of Technical Support
Every location that is using technology to connect needs to have access to technical support. If you are not utilizing rooms on the WhyGo Network, then the support should be verified before you get into attempting to troubleshoot while trying to take part in an important conference.
If you are using WhyGo’s network to connect, then there’s already a support team available any time in any time zone every day. We have three–in Sydney, Australia, in London, UK, and in Dallas, US. That means that you can call and we can answer or get back to you quickly, any time you need help.
Have you tried to have a video conference with a group lately? The current trend seems to be to let everyone use their favorite device to get in on the meeting, but many are starting to become frustrated with the actual dynamics of trying to talk to a group where one member is on a laptop, one is in a coffee shop on a tablet, one is at their desk with a monitor and still more are in a conference room set up for video conferencing with a big screen.
What happens is that the guy on the laptop doesn’t come across well on the big screen, and the big screen people are trying to hear what coffee shop person is saying over the noise of the espresso machines. The fact that all these different endpoints can be connected doesn’t mean that it’s the best connection possible.
WhyGo can certainly connect any device and any network, technology, or venue. Remote collaboration is what we do and we are good at it. But we can’t control what the quality is when the endpoint is not actually part of our network. We connect as well as is technically possible and the user has to be responsible for the rest. (Maybe that guy in the coffee shop should rethink where he sits next time.)
The best way to be assured of a high-quality connection with every member of a video conference is to analyze the various endpoints beforehand and take appropriate steps to ensure that each member is able to be where their audio and visual participation is as good as possible. Your video conference experience will only be as good as the ability of your members to participate.
When the local Social Security office in Barstow, California closed, it left residents facing a drive to the Victorville office to meet and discuss problems they may encounter. Along with the distance, many seniors in particular do not have transportation for such a drive. To solve this problem, the Barstow Senior Center has set up a facility where Locals will be able to use video-conferencing on Fridays.
Budget cuts forced the Social Security Administration to consolidate offices, but this innovative solution to the problem gives residents access to needed government services on Fridays from 9 to 11:30am. There are plans for more flexibility if many people are coming in and more time is necessary. The ability to set up appointments or scheduling other times will be simple now the basic equipment has been installed.
This is not the only place a government agency has used the flexibility of video conference technology to meet with those needing services; according to the article, an island in American Samoa is helping citizens with their needs remotely. In fact, a quick search of “video conferencing” will usually result in one or two news items about such services being instituted in many countries all over the world.
In the years since WhyGo started the use of remote conferencing technology has grown dramatically. We’ve watched that growth from the middle of the activity, because we’ve grown, too! Now there’s over 3,500 video conferencing facilities on the network, three global operation teams, and much more is on the horizon.
It just makes sense to us that you will see this technology used more and more in everyday life. And it really makes sense to use it for meetings that used to involve a lot of travel and waiting room time!