In this time of financial turmoil, educators are having to think differently when planning field trips and professional development opportunities. What one would think as impossible became the possible when we were asked 2 1/2 years ago to allow educators to come in virtually using interactive videoconferencing (IVC) into our classrooms. At first, we only had a couple of videoconferences each month and then it grew to several a month. Peers from our county and surrounding counties met in the Schultz Center for a day of training and when the trainer wanted to emphasize a strategy or concept they had been discussing earlier in the day, they would just turn to the larger than life screen and say, “let’s visit a real class working with this strategy”. Then magically the entire room of teachers tuned into a real-life application. The video conferencing shown below is one between Jacksonville and L.A.
Can you imagine the impact this educational resource made on those lifelong learners? As the tech wizard inside the walls of the school, I have been the “fly” on the wall and seen the benefits of this powerful tool. Students are so use to the equipment postioned in their classrooms I don’t even think they realize it is there until the teachers start communicating with the teachers outside our walls. Two months ago I met with two inspirational women (Elizabeth DeZemler and Jan Zenetis) who work for a company called Tandberg. “Videoconferencing” is their business and they support the vision that I carry in my heart. That vision is one where our administration and instructors will no longer get in to a car to attend a district meeting, they would use blogs, online surveys and video conferences to supplement traditional methods of the face to face meetings and training sessions. This vision would not only meet the professional needs of our teachers but would also meet the field trip needs of our students.
Jan Zenetis (co-author) of the book Videoconferencing for K-12 Classrooms presented me with so many ideas and ways that we can use this powerful tool through her book.
The dream will become a reality soon. You can count on it. I truly believe that by allowing the world to step into our world that we have opened the doors to immeasurable opportunities. The virtual field trips alone that we are already planning will empower our kids and teachers as we make the world a little bit smaller and our life experiences a little bit richer.