Technology for Guest Speakers in Classes

Posted on December 15th, 2011 by

During the Fall semester I included more guest speakers in my classes–a children’s museum consultant, a speech pathologist, a midwife, a school social worker, a city employee, a book publisher, and a toy maker. Some of the speakers were local, while others kindly volunteered to drive down from the Twin Cities. However, sometimes the guest speaker that you would like to invite is farther away. In this situation, you could consider different forms of video conferencing. I recently met with a graduate seminar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and we used Skype for this purpose. Jeremy Robinson has used Skype for language exchange between students living in different countries  or for including students who are unable to attend class for medical reasons. Google Hangouts on Google Plus would also be an option, especially since it integrates with Google Docs, which would allow your class to see a presentation while the speaker is also visible on the screen. And as Google recently announced, these Hangouts can be recorded directly to YouTube, which would make them available for your class to review later. Finally, Gustavus has classrooms on campus that are setup for video conferencing and have a mobile LifeSize video conferencing setup that can be reserved through telecommunications. These setups are especially nice for situations where your speaker will be giving a presentation with slides because the system can support both the slide deck and the presenter. However, these systems require that the other end user has a compatible system. I used one of these video conferencing rooms when my FTS met with a design consultant from a global company that had a compatible system. With all the technology that is available, you can invite anyone.


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