David Warlick said in his keynote address for the K12 Online Conference the walls are coming down. What he means is that technology has progressed to the point where boundaries set classrooms, offices, and other traditional places where people interact are disappearing. Two events that happened to me this week have proven him right. First was participating in the Fireside Chat with David Warlick and personally conducted an in service for the teachers at my school online.
I have participated in chat rooms before and talked to friends via instant messaging. Hey, I even had an interesting conversation with someone from Hong Kong years ago using ICQ. The event this past Monday was different for me. I was participating in an online event that had professional purpose with colleagues from all over the world. Just like physical conferences, I was able to interact and even made a friend or two. However, it was the side chat while David Warlick was fielding questions that impressed me the most. There was some interesting conversations going on and I learned more from this than David. I am looking forward to the rest of the conference which lasts for the next two weeks. If you want more information you can click on the link above or on the right of the blog site.
The other event was born out of necessity to inform teachers about their technology portfolio requirements for this school year. I had tried to do this earlier but could not get the time to do it after school approved. It was recommended I do it on a staff development day this past Tuesday but Teachers were going to be busy with parent conferences. I scheduled several sessions but I remembered hearing about an online conferencing application called WizIQ. I set up the sessions and informed teachers about the session times and how to particpate. Over one third of the teachers participated online. There were a few technical difficulties but overall the sessions went well. So well, I am planning to do it again Tuesday for a session on One-Computer Classrooms. This means any teacher can hold class but not have all the students physically present such as those who are too sick to come to school.
I have been looking out for other online meeting applications and three stand out and all are free. First, is Google Presentation which has a chat function when you share a link to a presentation. Next is Zoho Meeting which is part of the Zoho Online Office Suite. The drawback to Zoho is there is no voice unless you use Skype. The final application is UStream.tv which allows you to stream video live over the Internet. There are also several fee-based applications and I am sure there will be more to come which will break those walls down a little more.