Last week, my fellow I.N.K. blogger Vicki Cobb and I tried out something new—at least, it was new for me. We walked over to our very own computers in our very own home offices and put on a live joint videoconference with a group of curriculum specialists, media specialists, and techies down in Allendale, South Carolina.
Vicki lives in New York where it was about to snow. I live in Virginia where the side roads were still impassable from our own monster blizzard. But all the little video interconnections and sample slide shows and cameras and sound systems and live shots of the participants worked just fine—and we never even had to leave home. Besides that, the audience members could ask questions and make comments as though they were sitting next to us in the same room. It was all very laid back and friendly, and the audience was terrific too. (Fortunately, they couldn’t see our shoes.) How cool is that?
Our specific goal was to do what we often do for teachers when we go far far away from home; present a sampling of great ways to get kids so excited about learning that they can’t wait to come to class. Vicki introduced some amazing hands-on science experiments kids can try out in class using everyday items (think plastic bags, paper cups, and toilet paper)! I introduced some wild factoids about famous people from history that can wake up any kid, and I also revealed a few secret tricks teachers can use to help themselves become amazing storytellers—and nonfiction storytellers at that.
Our more general goal was to do a test run on an upcoming offering from INK THINK TANK called INK LINK: Authors on Call. Even though we won’t be hanging out our shingle until mid-April, we were very excited about this trial run. We’re hoping to bring high quality award-winning non-fiction into the classroom. Seems like most schools feature fiction instead! If you’re reading this blog, well, you are probably already a kindred spirit.
Videoconferencing is an exciting technology, I think. I shall now put my hand over my heart and announce that if we can get this project on just the right track, we’ll be able to let groups enter a “virtual classroom” with one or more of our Authors on Call, who will share their experiences, wisdom, and insights, enhanced by a colorful array of slides and other visuals.
Besides that, audience members will be able to make comments or ask questions to some truly inspiring and informative nonfiction authors. And our videoconferencing packages will offer in-services, panel discussions and much more to teachers and other professionals. We’d also like to provide virtual assembly programs for children at a fraction of the cost of an actual school visit. That way, people of every age will have a chance to see, hear, question and interact with well-known authors from afar, as if they were sitting together right in the same room the way we did last week. So far the future is looking very interesting...here's hoping we're ready to come out dancing!