Video Conferencing as a Tool for Teaching Geography

I’m really excited about the new term at school, and am looking for new ways to develop and improve the teaching of geography.  One of the biggest issues for us is that, being in Georgia, there are no field studies centre in the country, and logistically it would be a bit of a nightmare for me to try and organise a trip out, plus purchasing all the equipment, storing it, etc.

One of my ideas, which I am trying to process and develop, is the concept of virtual fieldwork, which would really tie in with the Land Rover Go Beyond bursary, which could be provided in a number of schools, not just in Georgia, but also have other benefits, and be used by the Ministry of Education to reach more remote schools where it is currently difficult to place volunteers.

The plan is to use the bursary to purchase ipads, internet links, solar chargers, and mini projectors, which I would then distribute across 64 schools in some of the most remote schools in Britain, in Europe, and in Georgia.

On the journey between schools, I will make videos of some of the geographically interesting features I see on route, and the schools can also vote on local places of interest that they would like us to visit.  Once the schools are set up, and we return to Georgia, we will then use these kits, perhaps with ETE to provide live lectures via video conference with various experts that we met on our journey and others.  In this way, bringing geography alive.

I am still in the research phase, and need to think things through much more, but I wanted to share some of my findings with you, and would really love to hear your views, suggestions, and ideas.

this one is just an advert, but its exactly what I hope to inspire:

I saw this TED talk a long time ago, and its been milling around in my head for some time, I loved making the geography revision videos for my classes, but have been a bit slack recently, but want to purchase a camera and start making more. I also need to come up with new ways to cover the material and to plan my lessons for next term, ideally in line with the Land Rover bursary.  The TED talk gives me one potential solution.  That instead of my spending two hours each week lecturing my class, and then giving them homework to do, what if I made videos, that they watch for homework, and then at the next lesson we do the more interactive stuff that would usually be given for homework? Get them to study things at their own pace and in their own way before we meet?? Maybe this could also form the basis for videos made on expedition and to be assigned to each participating school before I video conference them???? Likewise with Oceans project?? I don’t know how it would work for the younger students, but it could be good for the older ones, and they are probably more likely to sit and watch a video than they are to answer questions for homework.  Obvious downside is that if they fail to watch the videos prior to the lecture then they will be stuck in the lesson and will lose out, but then that happens to a point anyway. Food for thought!

I also really like his use of the test questions, and this is something that would also really benefit my younger students.  They are crazy about tests, they love them and they love playing games in class.  If I could somehow set a video for homework and then test them on it in class, lessons would be a lot more fun. Only issue again, is making sure the lazy students watch them, and that those who do not have internet or computer access can still watch them, although time could be set aside for this after school. Some of my weakest students really struggling with writing in English and taking notes in class is difficult for them, so this could be a way to overcome this problem.  They are very smart and their English is good so watching videos would allow them to be involved, even though writing in English is difficult.  On the other hand, I have a student who is electively mute and who generally finds it more comfortable to work alone, whereas the rest of the class love working in groups and do much better when working together, so I would need to find activities for class which involved a range of activities including art work, work sheets, etc.

One way around this and to make it more fun, would be to issue each child with some kind of ‘passport’, maybe they could earn miles for behaviour or something, and win a prize at the end of term??

If we can get funding for the ipads, then it means that I can find educational games for each lesson and the kids will have time to use these during class, way more fun and means I can help kids who are stuck.  This would really benefit my Junior age classes especially, especially those who strugge with behaviour or boredom. And it would be really good to encourage the stronger students to work with weaker students and to learn through teaching them, perhaps even making their own videos together on a particular topic, or setting up some kind of activity, like monitoring the weather from a weather station in the school playground??

I super love the idea of a ‘Global Classroom’ or ‘One World Classroom’ and that is a central theme of my plans for the Land Rover expedition, linking up classes and schools, getting them talking to. each other, sharing ideas, and learning together.  This is one of my dreams for the Oceans Project, as it will be amazing to run a project for students all across Europe and in future beyond Europe. After all, the oceans are connected together, and what my kids do to the Black Sea here in Georgia, will affect the kids living around the oceans of the Mediterranean, and even Atlantic, so kids as far away as the Caribbean. So why not educate them together and get them working together to after their global future??

I especially love how the kids in one school make a video for another school:

Now this is my ultimate dream to be able to take Oceans Project and Geography teaching to the most remote students:

Now this is funky, technology at its best, but not sure I am IT literate enough yet!!

And of course, the Land Rover bursary will enable us to make lots of material for the all important ‘virtual field trip’, definitely the way forward, especially when it just isn’t possible to fund or organise logistics to take students out of the country:

Hmmm, lots of thoughts and ideas, going to be tricky getting the application and plans focused!

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About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
This entry was posted in Teaching and Geography, TLG (Teach and Learn in Georgia), Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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