“Teachers need to be aware of potential resistance to video conferencing from pupils and have to be able to provide an environment and preparation that is encouraging and sensitive to this.”
This is always the issue. “Gaining stakeholder confidence and assuring buy-in” is what it was called in my project management days.
There are several ways in which video conferencing (VC) could be piloted in a cautious school, risk-free and with benefits that parents and other stakeholders can immediately appreciate.
This would depend on the school and require a certain amount of planning and preparation — for which teachers do not always have time.
Initially, we could rely on institutions like Janet to provide materials and tokens of trust. We could also send out examples of good practice in other countries.
The key is to model a successful project like Sugata Mitra’s Granny Cloud. It is simple but smart. It makes the entire idea appealing and personal. This could then be adapted to the needs of our pupils, perhaps by working with schools in North America, where the time difference would allow parents to supervise an evening session in the assembly hall with the pilot class and, say, the Montreal class. Parents seeing the “magic” first-hand would be that much easier to convince of the merits of interschool VC learning.
Finally, the issue comes down to a question of control. A: how much control is actually constructive before the effects become destructive? What are the legalities of a school communicating extramurally with another institutions and individuals? Do the parents have a say or not? B: What is the ethos of the school and the teaching body? If it is not conducive to innovation, then it will not happen on the basis of a lone voice in the wildreness.
Conferencing is, by definition, a social construct and can only be promoted by the group. The final question is:
Are we “with it”?