Eric Langhorst, an 8th Grade US History teacher in Liberty, Missouri, and the 2007/2008 Missouri State Teacher of the Year, is the author of one of my favorite educational podcasts. Last month, Eric posted a great podcast about his use of Google Videoconferencing (a relatively new feature of Google Chat in GMail) to bring a virtual guest speaker into his classroom in Liberty, “Using Google Video Chat to Visit the National Constitution Center.” This seven and a half minute video posted to YouTube shows an excerpt of one of these videoconferences with National Constitutional Center Education Director, Eli Lesser.

Way to go Eric! This was not only a great learning opportunity for your students via videoconferencing, it’s also a great example of modeling via blogging, podcasting, and YouTube video posting! Take a look at the video to virtually flashback to December 5, 2008, in Liberty, Missouri AND Philadelphia! :-)

Innovative and creative teachers like Eric are a HUGE inspiration to me personally, as I’m sure they are for David Warlick as well, who is pictured in this photo with Eric and I from METC 2007.

Eric Langhorst, David Warlick, and Wesley Fryer

Have you given Google Video Chat a try yet? If so, what have been your impressions and experiences so far, especially as they may compare to Skype, iChat, or traditional H.323 videoconferencing?

If you want to use Google for videoconferencing, here are the instructions from Google cited by Verne Kopytoff:

Open a Gmail chat window, click on the “Options” menu at the bottom, and choose “Add voice/video chat,” which will walk you through a one-time installation of a free plug-in (a quick 2 MB download). Then you re-open Gmail you’ll notice your “Options” link in your chat window has changed to “Video & more”. Open this menu and click “Start video chat” to see and hear your partner in high-quality video. You can pop out the video and change its size and position, or switch to full screen.

You can also visit http://mail.google.com/videochat to install the client-side application and get started.

As I last point, I will re-blog Eric’s encouragement to US history teachers and others interested in the history of the US Constitution to “to sign up for the National Constitution Center educator newsletter to stay informed about all upcoming activities and events.”

If you found this video and idea for using Google video chat in the classroom valuable, I’d also encourage you to visit and leave a comment on Eric’s blog post about this event. :-)

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  • http://blogush.edublogs.org Paul Bogush

    Darn thing is banned at my school. I have actually switched to convincing other classrooms that we work with to conference with ooVoo. I find 4 out of 5 students prefer it over skype…the fifth kid was absent on the survey day…I am sure he would have picked ooVoo too.

    Just a hint for anyone who wants to use skype in school but can’t download it because of filters. You can usually download it at home onto your laptop or flash drive and then use it at school with no problems. Using it is not usually blocked, just downloading it ;)

  • http://books-and-bytes.blogspot.com Jamie Camp

    Skype and Google Video Chat are blocked in my district, so I’ve not used them with students, but I have used both at home with family and friends.
    Although I’ve only used Google twice, I will say that the video was significantly less smooth than has been our experience with Skype. It wasn’t so bad that I wouldn’t use it again, and since it’s Google, I’m sure it will get better. I love the integration that it provides with the Gmail chat list too. For now though, I tend to use Skype more, as it seems less “chunky”…and it consequently frustrates my mother a little less when we use it! :)

  • http://www.speakingofhistory.blogspot.com Eric

    Wes – Thanks for posting about our project. I am in the process of trying to find other teachers who would like to work with my students. We also plan to have a video meeting with an author – Pat Hughes of Guerrilla Season – when we do the book blog project in the spring. Thanks.

    Eric

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