Technology Jungle Gym (6 of 6): Webcams

Webcams have become such an integrated part of our communication and learning that virtually all new laptops,  gadgets, and phones have one inside the system itself.  The idea of the Jetsons where one can see and hear others in virtually any spot on earth or space is here and is really not a big deal anymore.  People have been using sites such as Skype and Google Voice and Video Chat to communicate with others, post videos, and share special moments for many years.  It has been mainstreamed and has become a partner to email as something everyone seems to use.

As an educator webcams and online video communications have started to grow as districts are allowing more student access to them.  The first thought most have with webcams is to talk/communicate with another class in your school, or another school in your district or even a another city or country.  Students who miss class for extended times or have moved away from a class can still see and participate with the class they are missing.  We can see the world!  Live camera views give users (without webcams) access to most zoos, public transportation, and cities are posted worldwide. (Site of interest: Earthcam network).  You can even use your phone (qik) to stream live video on a website or send to others.

Webcam communication allow:

  • Teachers/students to talk to experts in a field of study they are studying (yes, you can record these too!)
  • Parent conferences without the parent being physically at the school
  • Share live or recorded sessions (class performances, activities, labs) for others to watch (and even participate with other apps)
  • Create video clips to demonstration, modeling or show procedures
  • Application software allow avatars and masks to give students and teachers the opportunity to talk via video as if they were another person or character.
Many other tools such as Glogster, Picnik, and Voicethread allow webcams to be used to embed or integrate in their apps to enhance and add video commentary or quick photos to them.

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