Several months ago Maryan Pelland, a writer for grandparents.com, contacted me about our family’s experiences using videoconferencing with our children and their grandparents / our parents. A few months ago she published the article “Videoconference With Your Grandchildren: Hearing your grandchildren’s voices is special, but seeing their faces is even better. Videoconferencing is the next best thing to being there.” Her quotation from our phone conversation was:
“Few things are as important as keeping grandparents and grandkids connected,” says Wesley Fryer, 37, of Edmond, Okla. “My grandmother lived in Wyoming. I was in Texas. We wrote letters, made phone calls. But kids and language and their likes change so fast, being able to hear their voices and see them up close is compelling.” Fryer uses Skype to help his children videoconference with their grandparents, and he says that setting up an account is as easy as setting up Voicemail.
During our phone call, I recommended that Maryan contact Rod Reese, who I met in the spring of 2007 when I shared a presentation about videoconferencing for faculty in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. I was impressed and enthused to learn that Rod’s family uses Skype every weekend to visit over video with his son in Europe. In her article Maryan wrote:
Rod Reese, 55, the superintendant of schools in Tonkawa, Okla., chairs a family videoconference almost every Sunday morning. He stays in touch with his seven grandchildren and with his 25-year-old son, who coaches football in Germany. “It’s simple, and I can’t believe it’s free,” he says. “Seems like something this important would cost.”
Some of Reese’s neighbors still give him blank stares when he talks about his videoconferences, he says, but more people are catching on. “It’s terrific for little children to keep a clear memory of loved ones far away,” he explains. “It’s not like waiting for a letter and getting a few lines of news. It’s instant and has a very positive impact.”
I knew this article had been published but hadn’t actually found and read it till tonight. I’m sharing a presentation here in Sturbridge, Massachusetts at the MASSCUE conference tomorrow on “Videoconferencing Collaborations and Virtual Field Trips” and am going to mention the grandparent / grandchild connection as a great way to get started with videoconferencing.
It is very important that educators at all levels find personally meaningful ways to use technologies FIRST before they can be reasonably expected to find professionally worthwhile ways to integrate technology. Safely videoconferencing with family members is hard to beat! This is a photo I snapped this past Halloween in our living room, when our kids checked in with their Lubbock grandparents to show off their costumes! 🙂
To learn more about videoconferencing applications for the classroom, I highly commend Brian Crosby’s 2008 K-12 Online Conference presentation “Video-Conferencing It’s Easy, Free and Powerful.”
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