Last Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to give a guest lecture in Dr. Antony’s COMM 4370 New Media Technologies and Communication at Schreiner University. As you know, my research focuses on social media and civic and political participation. So I was more than happy when I got an invite by my fellow WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication Ph.D. grad, Dr. Antony to discuss the topic with her students via Skype.
We covered social media and social change, both by working within and outside democratic systems. Discussion included subjects such as Rheingold’s Smart Mobs, Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, as well as Slacktivism.
Dr. Antony’s students were great and well-prepared. They offered great insights, asked thoughtful questions and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to learn from them.
I loved the experience and am always looking for ways to improve my delivery and better reach students. It got me thinking about some of the challenges of using video conference in the classroom. I love Skyping with classes, or having others come in and Skype with my classes. I always find it a little difficult at first – no matter what side I’m on as guest or professor with an invited guest – to build rapport when first meeting someone (or in this case, a classroom of students) through the screen. There is that sense of distance in the video experience. My students, often lively and talkative in class, always seem a bit reserved when I bring a guest in.
Bringing guests into the classroom via Skype or Google+ Hangout is such a powerful resource. I am wondering how do you rock the Skype guest lecture – what tips and strategies do you use when giving guest lectures via videoconference? What tactics you have found helpful? How do you warm up your class to a videoconference guest? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.
On a software service note, I was surprised to find that Skype requires a premium membership to do screen sharing. I seemed to remember doing this before at no cost. Why pay when I can use Google Hangouts for free? What’s up with that!