Video conferencing : the experiences of a mathematics teacher
Video conferencing is a relatively new technology for primary schools in England and it is normally used as a tool for distance learning. This thesis is a phenomenological case study that describes a course of mathematical enrichment sessions delivered through the medium of video conferencing to a group of 36 able children across six primary schools. The sessions are delivered by me, which gives the study a reflective and reflexive aspect since I have a dual role as both the teacher and the researcher.\ud \ud As well describing the experiences of the children, there is a focus on the teaching strategies that are used in this virtual environment and how they evolve over time. The thesis is structured around a framework of teaching strategies consisting of four categories; cognitive, compensation, metacognitive and affective strategies. The project makes use of video recordings, children’s diaries, a personal log, lesson plans and interview transcripts and the methods used include visual discourse analysis and Bloom’s method of stimulated recall.\ud \ud Successful and effective are the terms used for describing the outcome of a video conference in relation to technology and pedagogy respectively. This study shows that the evolution of teaching strategies is centred around creating routines to address the uncertainty of the virtual environment rather than focusing directly on pedagogy.\ud \ud The three major findings of this study are:\ud \ud 1. Site facilitators are not an essential requirement for ensuring the smooth running of a video conference. This study has shown that the participants themselves are able to take on any required responsibilities in this area if the number at each endpoint is relatively small (i.e. between four and eight participants).\ud \ud 2. Remote behaviour management and monitoring strategies are an important aspect of the video conferencing tool-kit for teachers. This study has demonstrated the importance of screen layouts in facilitating the use of such strategies.\ud \ud 3. The production features associated with children’s educational television programmes may be able to inform effective pedagogy for teaching and learning through video conferencing. In particular, this study has highlighted the potential of using theme tunes as auditory anchors to emphasise key points during a video conference.\ud \ud By the end of this study, it will be argued that the children enjoyed taking part and they became more independent as learners. Furthermore, it will be shown that if the teaching strategies are appropriate and if the mathematical content is enriching and open-ended, then video conferencing can create valuable learning opportunities for children that are not readily available in the traditional classroom environment.