Remote Guest Speakers


2013-09-03 17.45.55

Ken Frank (Professor – Measurement and Quantitative Methods) and Susan Sherman (PhD student in Rehabilitation Counselor Education) have both used videoconferencing technology as a way to host presentations and Q&A sessions in their classes. What’s different about their approach? The two instructors have designed their courses with the idea that interactions with experts and scholars would be a primary feature of face-to-face class sessions, regardless of whether they were in the classroom or not. The result:  class sessions that use videoconferencing technology to support enriched discussions and interactions that would not be possible using solely face-to-face methods.

IMG_0170We first worked with Ken to create a linked classroom course design back in Fall 2012. At first he used videoconferencing to support synchromodal interactions between students in two different locations, but he came to realized there were opportunities beyond his original design. Ken, speaking on how he uses GoToMeeting – the current Design Studio solution for videoconferencing – notes:

I use GoToMeeting to bring in guest speakers from really around the world.  We have had them from Sweden, Israel, the Netherlands as well as universities from coast to coast (Yale to UC San Diego).  It’s a great opportunity to engage a speaker that in many ways is better than a conference.  Selected students read the paper beforehand and have time to pursue follow up questions and extensions.  The speaker is not distracted by the conference atmosphere.  In fact, the speaker gets quick direct feedback, usually on work in progress.  GoToMeeting supports this easily.  It also allows students who are traveling (e.g., at a conference) or who are at other locations (e.g., University of Michigan) to participate.  They can hear and see everything, and then participate.

When preparing to teach EAD 806 this Fall, Susan approached CEPSE/COE Design Studio with guest speakers firmly in mind. Unlike Ken, however, she needed a mobile videoconferencing solution she could set up in any classroom she needed. The result is a simple kit containing a speaker/mic and a portable wide-angle camera she can set up on her own, in any room she wants. As she puts it:

The use of GoToMeeting has enabled me to bring speakers from all over the country to my class. With over 30 years of experience in the field, I am excited that this software has enabled me to bring individuals from my vast network of contacts to speak to my students on the issues of the day. GoToMeeting has provided a stable platform for student interactions with the speakers and has enabled us to look at Power Point presentations at the same time.  This has greatly enhanced the classroom experience for the students.

The Design Studio now has experience designing and implementing solutions for bringing remote guest speakers to a variety of course designs and classroom settings. Come see us in Rm. 401b for more details on how remote guest speakers can play a role in your next course design.


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