While videoconferencing can become an integral part of any classroom, like any lesson plan, it takes a little organization and consideration to make everything run smoothly. Using the following guidelines can help.
It is important to schedule times that are appropriate for all locations accounting for time zone differences. If this is a series of presentations, try as best as possible to ensure that times are the same from one meeting to the next to help participants remember meeting times, particularly if these are not scheduled during regular class time.
Discuss Videoconference with Distant Site Coordinators
Come up with a plan of action and exchange all contact information beforehand. A short test run a day or two beforehand is a good idea for ensuring instructors on both sides understand the equipment and PowerPoint presentations and media transmit properly. Make sure all documents and materials are ready for distribution well before the videoconference. This will help participants at all locations better prepare for the videoconference.
Familiarize Students with Technology
Take the time to familiarize students with the kind of technology that you will be using. Not only can students potentially help with facilitating the meeting and troubleshooting any problems, but this may help ease any nervousness about "being on camera" and facilitate a quality program.
Introduce All Participants
Introductions are an important part of the videoconferencing process. Spend time with distant instructors and presenters to discuss the dynamics of your class and spend some class time introducing students to the work and background of the presenter or fellow instructors.
Discuss Objectives with all Participants
Discuss some of the objectives of the videoconferencing experience with all the participants before the videoconference and follow-up with students and presenters afterward. Consider using some kind of assessment in order to evaluate the overall experience of the participants.
Learn and Teach Videoconferencing Etiquette
First time videoconferencing experiences can be unnerving for some participants due to cultural differences of participants, language difficulties and technology issues. Because of this, it is important for all participants to be respectful of one another. Remind all participants about some of the basic etiquette of videoconferencing:
- Talk in a clear voice and speak slightly slower than you would in normal conversation.
- Take turns speaking--it may be a good idea to develop a protocol for signaling one another when there is a question or establish a moderator who is in charge of calling on others.
- Cut out other sounds as best as you can by closing doors to the conference room and pausing conversation and muting microphones if unexpected sounds (i.e. passing sirens, construction sounds, etc.) occur.
Know Your Technical Support
If possible, make sure technical support is available during the scheduled videoconference. Getting to know the technical support and discussing the videoconference events and necessary equipment with them may be helpful as well.
Make a Contingency Plan
Come up with a contingency plan in case there is trouble connecting or a sudden cancellation.