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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

Webcasting: Live from Your Classroom
Sandy Scragg

Using a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), it is now possible to use the web to broadcast live audio and video programs--much like TV and radio, but using the web as a channel. Many educators have harnessed this new technology and have begun participating with their students in these live audio and video programs, called webcasts.

Webcasts can be conducted using either audio or video, but since video is still a limited resource in classrooms today, most educators are making connecting to audio transmissions on webcast networks found on the web. There are several webcast channels that are solely devoted to education topics--there are even entire networks. For a good overall introduction to Webcasting, check out World Bridges (http://worldbridges.net). Another great resource is Webcast Academy, which is a part of World Bridges. Check out their frequently-asked-questions page (http://webcastacademy.net/webcast-academy-faq) for a primer on webcasting. Two webcast networks that only broadcast educational programming are Education Bridges (http://educationbridges.org) and EdTechTalk (http://edtechtalk.com).

Just like a traditional radio or television news broadcast, a webcast can have several “correspondents” who all log in to the same channel to participate. Students from all around the country, and all over the globe, have been discussing important issues of the day, sharing cultural understandings, discussing books and films, learning languages, contacting experts and professionals in the field, and connecting with penpals.

If you want to get started with webcasting, first listen to several programs to hear what they sound like and what kinds of topics are discussed. Like a TV or radio station, webcasts are broadcast live only at specific times, so check the listings to make sure to log in at the right time. You can usually find archived versions of webcasts, but the fact that they are broadcast live is what makes them unique--and sometimes the archives get edited.  Most of the webcast networks also have helpful how-to pages that detail what you need to participate and how to tune in. World Bridges has an excellent listening guide (http://worldbridget.net/listen). EdTechTalk has produced their own screen cast (http://worldbridges.net/screencasts/listeninghelp/index.html) that should help you get started. To listen in on a webcast, you need a speedy Internet connection, but little else.

If you do become interested in creating or participating in a webcast, check the requirements needed on each network--and check to see whether your school or district blocks these sites on school computers (some, unfortunately, do). Most times, you will need to download the free software program, Skype (http://skype.com). Skype will let you use the VoIP method of speaking to others on a webcast, as well as allow you to make phone calls over the web and participate in live text-based chats.

Here are some more links to get you started webcasting:

1) Classroom Webcast: http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2007/02/interview-with-nanotechnology-expert.html

2) Using Skype in the Classroom (video): http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2006/10/using-skype-in-classroom-or-just.html

3) Webcast How-To:

4) World Bridges: The Potential of Live, Interactive Webcasting:

5) Webcasting Overview:

6) Skype in the Classroom:

7) SpaceCast:
8) Youth Radio, History in the Making:

9) How to Webcast:

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Sandy.


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