I first read about this tool in freetech4teachers blog and I decided to use it in teaching. I recently gave a short webinar presentation introducing this tool to my colleagues at Sabanci University. Appear.in is an HTML5 video conferencing tool that is built with a technology called WebRCT. Since HTML5 does not require “flash” or “shockwave”, there is no need for plug-ins or sign-ups. This is the most appealing aspect of this tool. It’s super easy to use. All you need to do is create a room, copy and share the link and get started. Now, let me talk about how I am using this tool in teaching.
1. Guest Speaker
Once in a while, students love seeing a different face in the class. So, on one occasion, I arranged a video conference with a friend of mine who lives in London. She is a native speaker who used to be a paramedic which makes her ideal because of the topic we were studying: health – common cold. I had sent her a copy of the transcript for the listening that we were supposed to do earlier in the first two lessons. Appearing in class at 11 am was the plan as it would be 9 am in London. So I projected my screen on the wall. When we entered the room “appear.in/commoncold” she was already there. She shared her expertise for about 15 minutes in the topic and invited questions. Two students asked questions but they had to come closer to my laptop. That later gave me the idea of using a microphone extension. At the end of the day, my students loved this experience
On another occasion, I convinced a teacher friend of mine who works at another institution to appear in class for a short lecture. I thought the original lecture recording was too fast for my students so I wanted them to hear this lecture in a slower pace and most importantly ‘live on air’! Again I sent her the lecture listening file and the transcript before the lesson and arranged a time and the room – “appear.in/unit3input3”. This went very well. I turned off the microphone after my introduction during her speech and there was no problem at all in terms of the sound quality.
So the guest speaker can be anyone. Teachers: colleague(s) from the same institution, colleague(s) from another institution. Peers: a student or a group of students from the same or different school(s). Experts: friend(s), anyone with expertise.
At Sabanci University, we often have tutorials with students mainly for writing, portfolios, and about their progress. I haven’t had any tutorials using “appear.in” yet but due to my full schedule this week I’m planning to have some online tutorials. I’ll update the post once I have the experience. I arranged “appear.in/tutorial” and claimed the room. All I need to do now is to send an email to my tutees what time they should appear there. If all goes well, I can even arrange group tutorials with students who live in the dorm.
3. Online Tutoring
There are two options here. You can use “appear.in” for extra lessons or for private tutoring. Say the lesson time was not enough to dwell on some concepts, then you can ask those to appear.in/extralesson at a certain time after the lesson. This of course depends on the number of students for the reasons I will talk about below. You can also try “appear.in” for your private lessons. I think it fits perfectly with speaking and listening. Appear.in also allows you to share your desktop with a little fix:
As I was trying out this new tool, I found out that it worked well with three people. At work, I tried it with four people and although we were all on the same network, we have experienced some problems with the sound most probably because of microphone adjustments. I am not sure how to overcome this echoing issue but maybe if video conference participants turn on and off their microphones as they speak, this could be a solution (or use headsets).
5. Baby Monitoring 🙂
This could be another handy use of this tool. You need to use two laptops for this.
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