E-Learning Politics and Law TelePresence


A six seat TelePresence room with a screen on the left showing people at a remote location and people on the right looking at the screen.  The tables and the screen are arced, creating an oval.
A Cisco TelePresence room. I’m working in an 18 seater with a second bank of 12 seats behind the front row. Photo from Cisco, all rights reserved.

I am nearing the end of my my first trimester teaching a blended Politics and Law class.  The blend is two days a week in a Cisco TelePresence room with the other days online. The technology is truly impressive; interactions with students at three other remote sites became natural very quickly.  The students seem to have found the system more intimidating, but that may be because they are much less familiar with being looked at then I am as a classroom teacher.  But, they also interact easily across distance both academically and socially.  As in a normal high school class they ask each other about their weekends, movies, and sports.
All of the challenges in the class have involved getting students to do the online work.  Meeting twice a week in the TelePresence room has allowed me to communicate directly with students.  While this allows me to prod them to complete tasks and to field their technical questions, meeting twice a week may also be discouraging them from working outside of class.  They work well on their laptops in the various rooms, but may have originally thought that that is enough. Or, they may be struggling with motivation and access out of school.  I’ll be exploring this problem more as I reflect on teaching my first online course

By Eric Beckman

I am a veteran high school history teacher interested in decolonizing history curricula, anti-racist pedagogy, and e-learning.

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