Social Media, Technology

Connecting with absent students via Social Media

I fear that we’re entering into flu season (or some other type of contagious disease season — if a particular term has already been coined for the disease du année, I’m not yet aware of it) and as a result I’m having a number of students missing class because they’re sick or still recovering from an illness. So, I’d ideally like to find an easy, non-obtrusive way to connect my class, either via recording or streaming, with those students who are home sick, but don’t want to miss what takes place during the period.

Thus far I’ve had a couple of ideas and have tried out one. My first foray into this territory occurred earlier this week when I tried to connect with a student who was sick at home by using TinyChat to stream the class discussion to a centralized chatroom. Ultimately the student who I sought to connect with was resting while class took place, but nevertheless I encountered a few technical glitches with the website. Firstly, I had to recreate the chatroom at least twice. Secondly, and perhaps because I’m using my relatively antiquated (but still functional) 12″ Powerbook G4, I wasn’t sure about the sound quality of the stream, nor did I have a camera to capture video of what took place in class.

Just this afternoon I realize that perhaps Drop.io might be a good solution given its phone call recording functionality. In this arrangement I envision using the speaker phone to capture the class conversation (which will likely have its own quality issues) and then pointing the students who missed class to the drop site where they could then download and listen to the class conversation. This arrangement has the benefit of creating a static recording of the class that students can download at a later time and don’t have to be at their computers during the precise time class occurs. However, it may also have quality and audibility issues, which might make the convenience element a moot point.

What other strategies have teachers used to capture their classes when students miss because of an illness or prior commitment? Are there other forms of social media presently available that would accomplish this goal in a more effective way in terms of quality, distribution, audibility? Any thoughts are welcome.

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3 thoughts on “Connecting with absent students via Social Media

  1. Western Dave says:

    I had a student who missed almost a month last year because of a complicated illness. She Skyped to my laptop (a macbook) which I kept mostly focussed on me. I occasionally had to hold it up to the board. It worked quite nicely for class discussions, she faced the circle and when she wanted to talk the rest of the class had to be really quiet. In general, she and I were both pleased with Skype. The built in cameras on the macbooks made it easy. She also had two notetaking buddies in class who sent her notes and a buddy dropping off handouts at her house.

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