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Synchronous Software

Just imagine the possibilities

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The question is whether or not we should invest in synchronous media in order


to allow people who are not in the same place at the same time to communicate as
if they were face-to-face and in real time.
In order to make a decision its necessary that we examine the advantages and
disadvantages of new technologies in the classroom and for our educators. When
we consider synchronous media we must remember that the participants have to be
online at the same time, with compatible hardware and software. Participants must
be well-prepared; and the technological aspect of synchronous software requires
testing and continual modification. Participants will be better served if there is a
leader or moderator to control the pace and direction of the conferences.
Participants will need to have collectively read and shared the agenda beforehand
and reflected upon the content and have a well-developed response or proposal
ready before the use of synchronous software can be effective (Kawachi, 2007).

However, is this enough? Is it enough or worthwhile for us to invest in


synchronous software so that our students can simply collaborate with their
peers online and in real time in the name of higher education?
Perhaps we also need to examine the benefits of peer collaboration and
interactionism in our classrooms. Du Four, (2003) an educational consultant who
writes about effective leadership states that educators must promote a
collaborative culture by defining collaboration in narrow terms: the systematic
process in which we work together to analyze and impact professional practice in
order to improve our individual and collective results. Collaboration is embedded
in the routine practices of the school. Teachers are organized into teams and
provided time to meet during the school day. They are provided specific guidelines
and asked to engage in specific activities that help them focus on student
achievement. Teams collaborate and address three (3) key questions:
1. What is it we want our students to learn?
2. How will we know when each student has learned it?
3. How can we improve on current levels of student achievement?
Du Four (2003) maintains that there is a big push for schools to be more datadriven these days, but simply providing data to schools and teachers does not
translate into improved practice. But unless teachers have a valid basis for
comparison, they are denied insight into what they have done well and what areas
are most in need of improvement. Teachers who have the benefit of this useful
information on a frequent, timely basis, along with support from a collaborative
team, describe the process as energizing.
The Interactionist theorists in education are those who believe that individuals
choose how they want to behave based on the ways they perceive themselves from
the interaction with other people. An aspect of the interactionist theory of
education claims that teachers classify and label their students in order to
understand and relate to them. This is known as the halo effect, whereby students
are stereotyped on non-academic impressions. This classification affects the way a
student perceives them self and ultimately the way he or she behaves in the
classroom. Research has found that when teachers label their students as either
bright and competent or lazy and useless, the students seem to fulfill that original
prediction a self-fulfilling prophecy (Interactionist Approach to Education,
2009). So what if we could use synchronous media to authorize children to be
smart, insightful, creative and brilliant? Our students may benefit from

synchronous educational environments in which live and mediated interaction


with peers could be an instrument of transformation. Our students could experience
new and dynamic states of relationships with their peers and their teachers using
synchronous media for educational purposes. This potentially radical shift in their
own behavior and in their perceptions of others and themselves could be
invaluable.
WebEx synchronous media software is an easy way to share ideas with anyone,
anywhere. It combines real-time desktop sharing with phone conferencing so
everyone sees the same thing while you talk. Its far more productive than emailing files and struggling to get everyone on the same page over the phone. And
it can often eliminate the need for people to travel and meet on site.
WebEx could be used to deliver interactive instruction with all staff and each and
every student individually or in a group training or learning session. We could do
this anywhere in the world. All you need is a computer, the Internet and the
software. Teachers and students will be able to share visual content over the web in
real time via phone or even video conferencing. The key idea with synchronous
software is that everyone in attendance sees and hears the same thing at the same
time. The benefits associated with synchronous software include more efficient
instruction which connects with more learners at a time. The usual necessities of
traditional on-site training or education are negated. Instead, educators and/or the
students themselves are now free to show presentations, demonstrate applications
and share information. Both parties can encourage interaction with easy-to-use
tools, including interactive annotations and chat. To allow for differentiation and
extended time teachers can record instructional sessions for self-paced learning
(webex.com, 2010).
Imagine students being able to connect to the Internet to revisit the objective(s), the
assignment(s), the requirements and/or procedures and then most importantly the
lesson or instructional content. Imagine students being able to connect in realtime over the web to interact and collaborate while conducting research or
completing a group project. Imagine teachers helping teachers and teachers helping
students and students helping other students live and in real time to solve
problems, to conceive solutions and to generate innovative ideas for themselves
and others.
David Chao, a web conferencing expert and author of The Web Conferencing
Blog writes that WebEx is a leader in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space and
has been for the past 8 years. Whether WebEx knows it or not, its overall

messaging and value proposition has always had a unified communications feel to
it. OPEN architecture, SCALABLE, SECURITY, bringing people, devices and
data, such as voice, video, audio, email together to increase corporate productivity
and mobility. (Chao, 2008)
Required Activities
1. WebEx can be accessed at the following link titled;
http://www.webex.com/index.html
2. Review Case Study #1 at the following link titled;
http://static.webex.com/fileadmin/webex09/files_en_us/pdf/casestudies/cs_S
abio.pdf
3. Review Case Study #2 at the following link titled;
http://static.webex.com/fileadmin/webex09/files_en_us/pdf/casestudies/Ano
ka_Hennepin.pdf
Questions: If you were handed the curriculum for your respective discipline and
asked by administration to make use of synchronous media software (WebEx) to
assist your students in mastering that curriculum, briefly describe a collaborative
activity or lesson that you might create for your students or for you and your
colleagues. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of using synchronous
software in education? Would you invest in synchronous software so that students
could collaborate with their peers online and in real time? Why or why not?
References
1. Kawachi, P. (2007, July 3). Synchronous Media in Education: Summary.
Retrieved March 14, 2010, from Open Education Network Blog:
http://paulkawachi.blogspot.com/2007/07/synchronous-media-ineducation-summary.html
2. Du Four, R. (2003). Leading edge: Collaboration lite puts student
achievement on a starvation diet. Retrieved March 14, 2010, from
National Staff Development Council:
http://www.nsdc.org/news/jsd/dufour244.cfm

3. Interactionist Approach to Education. (2009). Retrieved March 14, 2010,


from slideshare.net:
http://www.slideshare.net/sociologytwynham/interactionist-approachto-educationpresentation
4. (2010). Retrieved March 14, 2010, from webex.com:
http://www.webex.com/index.html
5. Chao, D. (2008, April 29). WebEx Connect. Retrieved March 14, 2010 from
The Web Conference Blog: http://davidchao.typepad.com/
6. Sabio Academy attracts world-class students and teachers with WebEx.
(2008). Retrieved July 15, 2010, from SabioAcademy:
http://static.webex.com/fileadmin/webex09/files_en_us/pdf/casestudie
s/cs_Sabio.pdf
7. Online Meetings Spark New Opportunities for Schools. (2009). Retrieved
July 15, 2010, from Cisco:
http://static.webex.com/fileadmin/webex09/files_en_us/pdf/casestudie
s/Anoka_H ennepin.pdf

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