The Evolving Use of Web-Conferencing Technology in Childcare Practioner Education

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Although this presentation focused on childcare providers, I found this session to be interesting because they demonstrated a Web-conferencing program called WebEx which was created as a business application.

Rick Morgan and Linda Hurst from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Platteville explained their program, discussed the equipment required for course participation (webcam, etc.), and explained the course orientation for instructors and students.

The benefits of utilizing WebEx are its affordability, flexibility, convenience of scheduling and use, and providing students with a sense of belonging to a group as they work on their course materials. Students can actually do group work using this technology when their course is not meeting synchronously.

The presenters discussed several pitfalls of this technology including the amount of time it takes to orient students to the system and the limiting the class to 12 participants because they want to ensure a quality learning environment for their students.

NB: One takeaway is that students are given a ten minute break after every hour of synchronous instruction. The presenters pointed out the importance of establishing 'rules of engagement' for appropriate behaviors while participating in an online course (including in which room the participants sit as they participate in the class).

NB2: The keynote presenters were each given $10K for presenting at this conference. I learned this in my 8:15AM session.

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