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The Connected Classroom

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Category Archives: Blogroll

Heidi MorganHeidi Morgan is a 6th grade Reading and Language Arts teacher. She is passionate about technology integration and is always looking for new and innovative ways to create the best 21st century learning environment for her students. She strongly believes that kids can change the world and gives them every opportunity to start while in her class through global collaborative projects.

In 2013, Heidi, from New Lenox, Illinois, was selected as a MIDWEST SPOTLIGHT EDUCATOR for 2014 for the METC Conference. This recognition honor leaders from the region in education technology, whose practices are making a difference for students as well as teachers.

She is currently the Vice President of DeICE, the Joliet area chapter of Illinois Computing Educators. She is a DEN STAR Educator, and her class presented in Discovery Educator Network’s Digital Learning Day’s Don’t Worry…Get Appy. She has presented at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference, Illinois Education and Technology Conference, Raising Student Achievement Conference, and T21 Con at Illinois State University. Follow her on Twitter @heidiamorgan.

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Have you been reading Cooperating School Districtsblog, Education Today? Recently, CSD staff from several of its departments were recognized in Education Today for honors they have received from various organizations in Missouri. Be sure to check it out:

The blog also covers topics such as: American Recovery and Reinvestment ActBusiness Services, Character Education, Cost SavingsEducation & the Global Workplace, ELL, InfluenzaLegal Issues,  Legislative Advocacy,  Media LiteracyNew Initiatives for Schools,  Podcasts,  Professional Development,  Public School FundingSchool Safety,  Technology Integration, TIF Reform plus Web 2.0.

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We didn’t feature all of these Talk Like a Techie blog posts on The Wired Classroom- all of them are excellent, by the way- but we selected a few to share on our blog. Here’s the last post in their 20-day series, posted earlier this week:

Day 20: Why We Use Video Conferencing in K-12 Classrooms

Posted on January 31, 2011 by Janine Lim

This post continues our 20 Day Challenge to understand the technical aspects of videoconferencing, particularly the section on dialing.

Each January, we write these 20 Day Video Conference Challenges to share our experiences with others. In the early days of video conferencing, it was cumbersome and expensive. Today, we can have excellent H.323 quality connecting a variety of endpoints to different MCUs and other endpoints to create a smaller world for our students.

We have seen the power of effective curriculum video conferencing can have on student motivation and success. If the technology is not properly set up or does not work properly, that creates a barrier to implementation and educators who already have so many things that they are responsible for are going to be less likely to attempt to reach outside their classrooms.

Using advanced video conferencing technologies, we can create exceptional learning opportunities for students in rural schools, suburban schools and inner city schools. Each has a unique need that can be bridged with a quality curriculum video conferencing solution.

Here are links to assist you in continuing to Talk Like a Techie. It has been a learning experience for us as we researched and wrote this challenge and we hope that it has helped you in learning more about video conferencing.

Day 13: How to Dial with a LifeSize Remote

Day 11: How to Dial with a Polycom Remote

Day 12: How to Dial with a Cisco-TANDBERG Remote

Firewall Traversal Units
Day 7: Working With Your Firewall Traversal Unit

We also encourage you to review the past 20 Day Challenges:

If you have ideas or suggestions for future 20 Day Challenges, please comment! Or if you think we missed something from this technical challenge, we’d love to hear from you as well!

Team-written by Janine Lim, Shane Howard, and Roxanne Glaser. The opinions expressed in these posts are based on our collective video conference experience connecting classes across multiple networks to connect them to zoos, museums, experts and other classes during the past 10 years. This series of posts reflects our usage and understanding, not that of any vendor or manufacturer. No one is paying us to write these. We are just sharing what we have learned.

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Be sure to check out Cooperating School Districts‘ blog, Education Today.

The most recent post is about the upcoming Midwest Education Technology Conference. Lots of good info to know!

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Great information here from Janine Lim, Roxanne Glaser, and Shane Howard as part of their Talk Like a Techie series of blog posts!

How To Dial with a Polycom Remote

Posted on January 17, 2011 by Janine Lim

This post continues our 20 Day Challenge to understand the technical aspects of videoconferencing.

We have covered the larger issues of setting up and optimizing the network, using gatekeepers, and how to tell people to connect with you via a firewall traversal unit. This week, we are shifting our focus on when you pick up the remote to your endpoint and dial to another site.

Most parts of dialing are straight forward. Enter the numbers and connect. Sometimes, there is a hidden button or a function that changes and it isn’t explained on the official equipment documentation. We are going to share some things that we have learned over the year.

How to Dial

  • Press each number and be sure to enter the “.” after each octet. Dialing a video conference unit is different than dialing a phone, in that you don’t add any “punctuation” in a phone number, but you must on a video conference system.
  • Access the directory, if it is set up, and dial directly from there without entering any numbers.
  • To Dial an Alias: Dial the main IP address, add ## and then the number of the extension, alias, or room number.
  • If you dial an IP address and arrive at a screen and if there is audio, listen to what it is saying to you. Codian bridges are “talky” bridges and will present you with an entry queue or auto-attendant. You can navigate this screen by using the far end camera control on your remote and the the up and down arrow keys. When you arrive at the conference where you should be, press enter.

Polycom ViewStation: Quirk

Remember, when you enter the IP address into the dialing menu, you must enter the “.” between each octet.

  • Older ViewStation remotes had no dot button. You press the red, right arrow key while in the address box. That makes the dot.
  • The call/hangup button is green and does both functions.

Polycom VSX 7000: True Love

This could possibly be our favorite video conference remote of all time.

  • Separate call/end call buttons.
  • Dot button.
  • Separate near and far camera control buttons.
  • Color-coded buttons separating the camera and call functions. (This went away in the HDX remotes.)

Polycom HDX Systems: Tip

Polycom HDX systems came with an entirely new remote design. This design was not made with classroom functionality in mind. It was created to appear attractive in a conference room environment. It takes a bit of getting used to the different shaped buttons and some of the design takes precedence over functionality, in our experience. And it takes more batteries!

If you are accustomed to the Viewstation or the VSX line, those remotes will also work with the HDX line. The color coded buttons on the old remote design were user-friendly and easy to train users on.


Your Turn

Anything we missed? Can you remember when you first began dialing? What was hard to remember?

Team-written by Janine Lim, Shane Howard, and Roxanne Glaser. The opinions expressed in these posts are based on our collective video conference experience connecting classes across multiple networks to connect them to zoos, museums, experts and other classes during the past 10 years. This series of posts reflects our usage and understanding, not that of any vendor or manufacturer. No one is paying us to write these. We are just sharing what we have learned.

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Cooperating School Districts also has a blog of its own, called Education Today. Topics covered in Education Today vary; recent posts include information on Turner v. Clayton, media literacy in St. Louis area schools and information about CSD on Twitter and Facebook. You can find CSD’s blog at

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Writer's Workshop Blog

Don’t forget that New Links to New Learning content provider, author Patricia McKissack, has a blog called Can You Imagine?.  There you’ll find information on Pat’s Author Visit videoconferences,  her many books,  her podcasts, lesson plans, and also student work and teacher feedback that has been posted.  If you have not taken the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you take a moment today and click over.

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Pat McKissackPlease take a moment to check out Can You Imagine?, author Patricia McKissack‘s writer’s workshop blog. Recently updated are the school year videoconference schedules for Winter Holidays Around the World, as well as Creative Writing – Science Fiction (new!).

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Janine LimI was reading Janine Lim’s blog, Videoconferencing Out on a Lim (see our blogroll) and came across a post entitled: A Little VC Technical Knowledge. I’d like to share an excerpt from her post with you- it’s very good, basic information for those interested in videoconferencing. For those of us who are “videoconferencing veterans” it’s good to read & remember what can trip people up as they start out. Thanks, Janine, for taking the time to put this together. To read her full post, click here.

“Some basic concepts (written in my [Janine's] lay language!) include:

  • IP numbers that start with 10. are internal addresses and people outside can’t call them.
  • Most videoconferences are at 384K. Compare that to the amount of available bandwidth on a typical day to know if you’ll be able to sustain a “good enough” videoconference.
  • Packets are little pieces of info sent over the network. In email the packets eventually get there, get together, and give you an email. But in VC, if the packets don’t show up in time, they get thrown away. Hence, packet loss. Usually 2% packet loss or higher becomes intolerable.
  • A NAT is network address translation, and both the codec/endpoint and the firewall/router need matching settings for NAT to work. This is because the endpoint/codec needs that info to set up the packets properly.
  • An IP videoconference call is set up on port 1720. After that the two codecs negotiate which ports to use for the audio and video streaming. This is what’s going on when it rings & rings.
  • If you’re using a gatekeeper, ports 1718 and 1719 are used to find and register with the gatekeeper. More on ports here.
  • Two great resources to learn more about H323 and your network are: H323 and Firewalls from MOREnet in MO; and UKERNA/Janet Security Guide for H323 from the UK.”

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@ IWBAccording to Kelly Tenkely of “Being a first year teacher can be overwhelming to say the least. There is new curriculum to learn, unfamiliar school policies, classroom management challenges, and new teammates. Technology can help to ease some of these first year growing pains.”

Here’s her list of the top tech tips for new teachers, but is probably a good list for veteran educators to review, too. Click here for the complete list with full descriptions…

1)   Develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.
2)   Keep students engaged.
3)   Take charge of professional development.
4)   Involve parents by creating a link between home and school.
5)   Keep yourself organized.
6)   Find educational blogs to discover new ideas, encouragement, and educational news.
7)   Get to know your students.
8)   Work smarter not harder.
9)   Don’t reinvent the wheel.
10)  Always be prepared.

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