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How do K-12 Communications Tools differ from others?

Classroom learning is greatly expanded through collaboration, whether it is between teacher and student, teacher to teacher, student to student or even classroom to classroom.

K-12 education presents opportunities for technology to improve collaboration and simultaneously to dramatically reduce costs. The technologies that aid in K-12 collaboration are many and they include video conferencing, streaming content and free form interactive video. Here are three examples of their use:

  1. One teacher can reach multiple classrooms through the use of video conferencing tools that are configured for distance teaching/learning. This would include special attention on the ability to present computer graphic images, to annotate documents and for students to be able to speak with a teacher as though they were in the same classroom.

  2. One presentation can be made and replayed again and again if it is recorded and archived as online video content. Presentations can be recorded using video conferencing equipment, or just cameras, microphones and software. However the recording is engineered, a dramatic increase in accessibility to classroom content can be made available to students just by recording, archiving and posting content online for later review through streaming services.

  3. Student to student workshops. Using video conferencing equipment in an "always on" learning lab can be a way for students to help one another. Learning centers that once were places of quiet study can be quickly and easily transformed into Collaboration Centers simply by creating an environment of constant connection between students. Once students understand that their learning can be aided by other students in remote locations, collaboration can become a catalyst to faster and lower cost learning.

What are some K-12 Distance Learning tools?

Video conferencing equipment from LifeSize, Sony, Polycom and Tandberg can provide classroom-to-classroom video connections. These video connections, when linked to document cameras and PC's or Macs, allow teachers to present their learning materials easily and with great clarity to distant locations.

Electronic whiteboards, such as Panasonic's Panaboard can be extremely valuable tools in a classroom. Computer presentations can come alive with simple annotations that an instructor can make in front of a classroom. Electronic pens can act like a mouse or as highlighters and in this way, a presentation can come to life right before students with the simple stroke of the instructor's electronic pen.

Recording of presentations and archiving online for later playback using streaming tools is a natural way to extend the life of an instructor presentation. Live recordings can be made using video conferencing equipment or cameras and microphones with collaboration software. They can be posted online for later and repeated playback by students and in this way, one instructor presentation can live on for days, weeks and even years.

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