Companion Web URL's for SBO's Magazine's December 2013 Music Technology Column

Dynamic Technology Opportunities:

Today’s Videoconferencing

by John Kuzmich, Jr.

November 5, 2013

Hiro Morozumi's Videoconferencing Remote Recording Sessions

As proof of how good it is possible to record an album with videoconferencing with a minimal budget for recording equipment, Listen to these recordings posted below. Their quality well illustrates that it is even possible to make professional sounding recordings with videoconferencing connectivity without expensive equipment.

 The sax/flute player shown in the pictures – his name is Tetsu Watanabe who worked together with Hiro to produce these Seven-Eleven tracks.

 Hiro adds, “We plan to do a few more of these remote-sessions this year. I’m sure as we do more sessions, we’ll have made more improvement on the process.  The recording sessions went great, and I have the finished tracks:”

More Examples of Educational Uses for Videoconferencing

The Jazz Alive Project:

The Jazz Alive Project couples ensembles with guest clinicians from across the world .Since 2004, Allan Mollar of Winnipeg, Canada and Stewart Smith of New York City have directed outstanding videoconferencing instruction opportunities for thousands of students.

Kelly Demoline, music educator and president of Kelly’s Music and Computer on-line music tech business is using videoconferencing to demonstrate products for potential sales  Kelly adds “Although we offer trial versions of most software we carry on our website, teachers often don’t have the time to spend researching all of the options and trying them out to see if they will meet their curricular goals.  This is where a quick one on one on-line meeting can be really helpful.  After determining the teacher’s needs, I can show the relevant aspects of the software, and participants can actually try it out themselves while I watch and make suggestions on what might be most useful for their students.”

Kurt Gartner at Kansas State University has been incorporating videoconferencing with their student teachers for 10 years to promote a more personal, direct way of meeting the needs of their remote student teachers. 

The Insight School of Colorado is a tuition-free on-line high school with five music tech courses

More Benefits of Videoconferencing and Distance-Learning!

Most experts agree that distance learning will become more prevalent as the technology that makes it possible matures. Distance-learning is a cost-effective means for educators, thus making it more attractive than its counterparts.

One of the greatest benefits to distance learning is the flexibility. Distance learning allows you to work around your own schedule. On occasion, you may have a "live" online meeting, but generally throughout the week you are free to work at your own pace.

Create a schedule of when you will study. You have to make a commitment to each one of your classes that you will stick to each week or daily. Creating a schedule is not that difficult when you divide all your coursework up over the entire semester. Most semesters last 15 to 16 weeks. See how many pages of reading you have to do, along with all of your other assignments, and create a schedule that allots a specific number of pages to read in each book each day. For instance, if one of your assigned books is 300 pages and you have 15 weeks to complete it, you need to complete 20 pages per week, or right at three pages per day.

Take notes on everything that you read. In fact, keep a separate spiral notebook for each course and write down notes on most of what you read. This will take additional time. It will also slow down your reading and force you to read more carefully. Write down the page number or a range of page numbers on which you find your material. This will give you a quick reference guide later on.

Collaborate with other students via email, instant messaging, Skype or even social networking websites like Facebook. This is one way to get that classroom feeling without actually being in the classroom. Groups of students can all create an online study group and bounce ideas off of each other. Some students are better test takers than others and may be able to provide tips, while other students can bring their own skills and knowledge to the study group.
Supplement your reading with online multimedia content that can provide you with an audio and visual representation of your reading. If your instructor provides this material, use it. Otherwise you may have to search the Internet to find material that corresponds to what you are covering in class. Universities like MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) maintain open courseware websites that provide lectures and lessons from some of the top professors in the world. An online consortium of schools offers various courses in multiple disciplines free of charge (see Resources).

Get the proper equipment. Most distance learning courses require you to have a computer with Internet access as well as a web camera. You might even need to install special interactive software. Check these requirements before class starts to give yourself enough time to get what you need.

Get your class materials. These may be accessible online, your school may send them to you or you may have to purchase textbooks in a bookstore as if you were taking a face-to-face course.

Familiarize yourself with your course load and syllabus before classes begin. Know approximately how much time you will need to spend in class, and how much time you will need to spend studying every week. If may help to begin reading in advance to give yourself a head start.

Inform your family and friends that you will be taking a distance learning course. Tell them you will need as much support as possible. If you have a spouse or children, explain to your spouse that you will be needing him to pitch at home because you'll have additional responsibility with school. If you have young children and no spouse, arrange for babysitting during your class times so you can devote your full attention. If you have older children, explain to them you'll need quiet during study times. Perhaps your older children can do their homework while you're in "class."

Schedule study times and stick to your schedule. Don't fall into the trap of thinking distance learning courses will be easier than face-to-face learning. You will be required to put in the same amount of time and work. Maintain the same discipline you would use if you had to physically report to class.

Make yourself accountable to your family and friends regarding your school work. Ask them to check up on you. Discuss your courses with them and ask for feedback on your work. Contact other friends, family or co-workers involved in distance learning or face-to-face courses and form a study group.5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing

Believe it or not, there are almost 30,000 video conferencing systems in U.S. schools, service centers, district offices, and departments of education. Many are used every day to connect students around the world.

The ways that video conferencing can enhance the educational experience are numerous. Ginger Lewman, director of the Face2Face program at the Turning Point Learning Center in Emporia, Kansas said that video conferencing has been used "as an essential learning opportunity for the past four years.  We've been connecting with students across the U.S. and the world to bring religion, geography, history and service learning to vibrant life."

But how exactly do you use a video conferencing system in education? Below are five ways to use video conferencing in the classroom.

1. Connect with Experts

Turning Point Learning Center makes frequent use of video conferencing, and Ginger Lewman remarked, "It allows our students, ages 10-14, to begin to develop not only essential communications skills, but also an acute awareness of global issues. It is always a joy to get to talk with experts and peers face to face and in real-time!"
I use distance learning every day to talk to students about the importance of reading and writing. Schools request programs from “content experts” to hear about a certain area of study. For example, knowing that writing was a weak point for their students, New Market Elementary teachers Miss Brown, Mrs. Deck, and Mrs. Ramsey participated in my video conference, “Personal Narrative Writing: Acing your State Writing Assessment & Beyond.” New Market Elementary's media specialist, Nancy Kochert, said that "students left the session very excited and chatting about Adora's age and abilities."

Such responses are typical of fun and productive video conferences with content providers or experts. Content providers could be individuals, museums, non-profits, and learning centers.

2. Virtual Field Trips

Any school field trip usually requires a lot of preparation — there’s the food, then the transportation, then the mischievous students, and most importantly, making sure not to lose anybody. It’s a whole lot harder to “wander off” when your field trip is on a screen in front of you.

Whether to a museum or a zoo, virtual field trips are becoming increasingly common in video conferencing schools. According to an article from Scholastic Instructor magazine, Pennsylvania's Mt. Lebanon School District was able to offer its middle school students a chance to see a volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Scholastic Instructor described the video conference:

"In e-Mission: Operation Montserrat, a 'mission commander' at the center interacts live     with the students, relaying reports about lava flow and evacuee progress, showing video clips of ash clouds over the island, and sending seismic data and information about hurricane intensity to students’ laptops. They analyze the information, make predictions about risks, and suggest courses of action."  In a quote from the magazine article, instructional technology coordinator Aileen Owens said, “Kids don’t find studying rocks exciting. That changes when you make learning come alive like this.”

3. Working Together

     Students in a classroom in, say, Wyoming, could connect with a classroom in Wisconsin and work together on a collaborative activity. While in the past, collaborative activities might be limited to one classroom or one school, video conferencing allows students in multiple schools around the world to work together on relevant issues.
One benefit of such an exchange would be that you might receive different views and fresh ideas from a class of students who are miles away, than you would from someone you’ve known for years. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration dedicates an entire section to collaborative activities, both for educators and students. Topics range from "Impact and Challenges of Rural Water Pollution" to "Transportation of the Future."

Interactive Videoconferencing: K-12 Lessons That Work, by Kecia Ray and Jan Zanetis, offers another example: "Employability Skills and Distance Learning: Michigan Students Come to Ohio." Michigan's Galien High School connected with the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Ohio to grow a deeper understanding of the job application process through collaboration. 

Collaborative activities typically work toward a practical goal (such as cleaning up rural waters) while helping students develop organizational, collaborative, and leadership skills. 

4. Accessing Previously Unavailable Courses

Some schools, especially those in rural areas, aren’t able to offer advanced or detailed courses that their students might need. Even those in more populated areas often lack enough teachers in certain subject areas. Many schools could benefit from having an extra course over distance learning that they might not be able to offer otherwise. Instead of having to commute long distances between different schools, teachers would be able to instruct over video conferencing.

What's more, "previously unavailable courses" can mean some pretty exotic content. You might have dissected squids or made model skeletons, but how many times have you seen a live knee replacement surgery in science class? At COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio, showing live knee replacement surgeries over video conferencing is nothing new.

Video conferencing is a powerful medium for giving students unparalleled access to places (or procedures) they could have only dreamed of in the past.

5. Teaching the Teachers

I not only speak to students over video conferencing, but also to teachers, providing a “kid’s eye view of the classroom.”
Because learning is a continual process for teachers, and teachers must acquire a certain number of professional development hours (a percentage of which should be dedicated to technology) to maintain certification, video conferencing offers a convenient way for many school districts to meet these requirements. In addition, even students can learn from their teachers' professional development — once, I spoke to teachers in Florida's Broward County School District while students looked on.


Although these may all be school solutions, you can apply many of the same principles to business as well. When it comes to connecting with experts, why not set up a video conference with your consultants instead of flying them in?