Evaluation: Comments and Quotes...

All the teachers involved feel very positive about the learning outcomes of the project to date, and about their own experience of being involved in a very people-oriented aspect of using ICT.

In all the completed activities, the teachers felt strongly that there were valuable benefits to be gained from using the videoconferencing technology, and there is clear evidence of formal and informal learning taking place.

Sometimes - especially where language and communication skills were the main focus of the activity - the benefits were easy to perceive in a qualitative sense, but harder to define, quantify, and assess. This was a particular concern for secondary teachers in England, mindful of the demands of a highly prescriptive National Curriculum.

The pupils / students are all enthusiastic about videoconferencing: part of this may have been 'novelty value', but the fact that the medium is more engaging than that provided by any of the alternative communications technologies is clearly a significant factor. Videoconferencing contributed greatly to building up valued working relationships in a short time-frame.

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In the last year I have discovered that working with computers need not be a
daunting task and if you're prepared to put the effort in the rewards are tremendous.
Louise Williams, Taliesin Junior School
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Videoconferencing is a brilliant experience.
Debbie Walls, Coombe Girls' School
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The benefits are clearly there, but they can be difficult to quantify.
Colin Bunyan, Boston Spa Comprehensive School
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The students gained an appreciation of people from another
culture. They learnt that their differences were superficial, and
that at a deeper level there were many similarities
Tristan de Frondeville, San Francisco School of the Arts

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You can understand what people are thinking if you can see them.
Lorna Woolford, student at Sgoil Lionacleit
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I wish we could bring our friend from Wales over here!
Pupil, Chipeta
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In the majority of participating UK schools, students did not have individual e-mail addresses, and this made individual e-mail communications difficult at times. For most students in the US, individual mailboxes were the norm.

The time zone differences only became significant at 7 or 8 hours - especially for the two primary schools, who had to conduct videoconferencing sessions outside normal lesson times.

Regularly checked individual e-mail boxes have proved vital for the teachers involved in the project, and the ability to access e-mail from home helps speed up communications and overcome 'timezone delays'. The laptop computers which BT supplied to the UK teachers have been well used, and have made a significant contribution to the project's success.

The whole project has been run and organised with no face to face meetings between any of the US or UK teachers, or the US and UK co-ordinators: learning and development may well have been easier and quicker if one or more face to face meetings (at a national, not necessarily international level) had taken place.

Although desktop videoconferencing systems are intended for individual and small group use, this hasn't been a significant drawback: even teachers working with class-sized groups have been able to plan and manage sessions effectively.

Pupils / students were more comfortable working in smaller groups. Inevitably (and despite careful preparation) there were nerves and hesitations in the early videoconferencing sessions, but these disappeared as friendships developed and confidence grew.

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The first day we met we all were nervous and a little scared. We hardly spoke for a long time, but now (...) here I am standing and reading without a nervous bone in my body because I feel like we're best friends...

From 'Some Fun Times', by Lauren, Chipeta Elementary School.


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