Today, K-12 is certainly a much different environment than it was years ago when the interactive whiteboard and distance learning first appeared in the classroom, where technology has become an integral part of the learning process. Distance learning via video conferencing technology (a “visit” to the NASA Space Center for example) has been utilized by schools at various grade levels throughout the country. Take this a step further in terms of meeting with students across the world and getting to know about them, their way of lives, sharing experiences and more. Then beyond that, learning about video conferencing and usage, along with utilizing known solutions for collaboration (like Skype for Business) across this large school district.
Now one might think that this particular school system detailed above could be in a major city like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Dallas, however not only are they in a rural area of the U.S., this is taking place in a remote rural area of Alaska.
Video conferencing is bringing this school district in the remote rural community in Kenai, Alaska closer to the world. Not only are they learning from professionals in various fields about potential career paths, they are breaking down cultural barriers by meeting with students from Ghana and the Middle East. They are getting a first-hand view of the conflict in Syria from refugees who managed to escape. Most importantly, these students are learning a life skill – that video conferencing is going to be the most pervasive means to connect in tomorrow’s business world. Two of those students actually became Polycom interns and even blogged about the experience, you’ll hear that story as well.
In the podcast, you’ll hear this statement from one of the teachers (referring to their remoteness):
While we’re on the road system and these kids do have the same technologies and watch the same TV shows, you’re still somewhat isolated from other cultures and other people as well – so getting them connected with all these other people have really made them open their eyes to some events that are going on in the world that they now have a personal connection…
My participants are Elaine Shuck, Global Director Education Solutions at Polycom and Andrew Cuneo, Sr. Manager of Corporate Communications at Polycom, and Kenai Peninsula School District high school history teachers Greg Zorbas and Rob Sparks. Join us for this in-depth podcast discussion on video conferencing in the classroom, a very unique internship, and two amazing teachers who are changing the lives of high school students in the Kenai, Alaska. It will give you a whole new perspective of edutech in K-12, whether you’re in a major city, or a rural area of the country.
Here I’m talking with history teacher Rob Sparks
Two stories discussed in the podcast:
Mara and Matt – Intern Interviews and Professional Presentations
Note: This podcast took place on Nov. 17th. over videoconference via Polycom (room system, PC and laptops). The recording was done by the school system.
Convergent Tech Blog Discussion podcast theme credit: Mike Loss