Project Based Learning Video Chat

I had an interesting experience, which could potentially expand the teaching possibilities online.  For the past year and a half I’ve been teaching through Skype and Google Hangouts.  There are differences from a traditional class setting, and one thing I miss, which I previously took granted for, is project based learning.  In a traditional class environment this would be easy to set up and apply, but online it posed a challenge.  I brainstormed for ideas and thought of using a program called Animoto for students to a create video to learn more about a reading passage topic .    The key was using the screenshare feature, and observe the student work on a project, and provide tips/help when it was needed.

However, this result came serendipitously.  Initially the plan was to show and explain the program through screenshare and then let the students complete the project for homework.  This worked fine in the first lesson but failed miserably trying to explain it in the second one.  Limited time forced me to explain too much, too fast.  So it had me thinking and re-evaluating.  During the third lesson I decided I would still show and explain the program features but then  dedicate the remaining portion of the class to supervise/observe as students experimented with the program.  Overall lesson turned out great aside from the slight ESL communication mix-ups and computer lag times (newer computers will not have this problem).  I haven’t tested this in a group but it may be possible through Hangouts.  Below is an outline of the lesson.      

Objective: Supplement a topic covered in the book.  Learn about the U.N. by finding answers to questions using the U.N. website.  Use key words from TOEFL book to explain their responsibilities.  Create a video using images and sentences that explains about the U.N.

1. Create questions for students to search the answers for using the U.N. website.
2. Give the website address.  Have students turn on the screenshare feature.  Observe and help students with answers as needed.
3. Have students turn off screenshare.  The instructor turns on the screenshare feature to explain program features.
4. Go to Animoto. Provide log-in and password information.  The instructor shows and explains the features for creating a video.  Explain how to search and save images on Google, create image slides, text slides, and add music.
5. The instructor turns off screenshare.  Have students turn on screenshare.  Observe and help as students work through the project.   
6. Preview the video, edit as needed, and produce. 

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