IT Infrastructure & Management

A Click Away

By Amanda Jones — April 20, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As curriculum technology coordinator for Avon Local Schools in Avon, Ohio, Paul Hieronymus has helped organize some pretty amazing field trips. Fifth graders in his district have observed vibrant coral and crustaceans while following a diver at the Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia. And pop-culture classes have chatted with hip-hop experts while touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

The students managed to visit these sites without blowing the budget because they never really left; they used videoconferencing equipment to interact with experts in real time and follow along on personalized tours. Opportunities for such digital adventures are available in every subject, says Ruth Blankenbaker, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, which offers a searchable database of nearly 150 content providers.

Students can visit Australia's Reef HQ Aquarium without leaving school.

Even traditional in-person field trips can be enhanced by videoconferencing, Hieronymus says. His district worked with the distance-education staff at the Cleveland Museum of Art, about half an hour away. “The [museum staff] can zoom in on that artwork closer than on site, and see things we would never see when we were there. The students can look at an African mask side by side with a painting from the Renaissance era and compare the two.”

The average interactive program costs about $125, according to Julia Shildmyer-Heighway, director of content services at CILC. “Schools are beginning to budget for virtual field trips in the same way they budget for software or ‘land-based’ field trips,” Blankenbaker says. Free programs from federally funded organizations, including the Library of Congress and NASA, are also available.

Alternatively, schools can pool their resources so that classes can share a paid virtual field trip. That arrangement recently allowed students from Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan to interview neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, who successfully separated twins conjoined at the head. They were also able to talk to children’s author Ben Mikaelsen, who lives in a Montana log cabin with a 700-pound black bear.

Videoconferencing equipment can be costly—typically between $3,000 and $12,000. A basic system requires a monitor, camera, microphone, speaker, and dedicated bandwidth. Hieronymus’ schools paid for the equipment and the trips using district money, grants, and donations from businesses and foundations.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2007 edition of Teacher Magazine


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure & Management It's Not Just About AI. Schools Are Facing 5 Other Tech Challenges, Too
In addition to the use of AI in education, schools must pay attention to several big tech challenges.
4 min read
A cybersecurity icon over a computer classroom seen through a screen of binary code.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
IT Infrastructure & Management Ed-Tech Companies Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks. A New Federal Effort Wants to Help
The Education Department is teaming up with a top research university to stem a wave of cyberattacks on schools.
4 min read
Image of lock on binary code background.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management Leader To Learn From Through Wars, Tornadoes, and Cyberattacks, He's a Guardian of Student Privacy
Jun Kim, the technology director in Moore, Okla., works to make the most of innovations—without endangering student data.
11 min read
Jun Kim, Director of Technology for Moore Public Schools, center, leads a data privacy review meeting on Dec. 13, 2023 in Moore, Okla.
Jun Kim, director of technology for the Moore public schools in Moore, Okla., leads a data privacy review for staff.
Brett Deering for Education Week
IT Infrastructure & Management One Solution to Maintaining 1-to-1 Devices? Pay Students to Repair Them
Hiring students to help with the repair process is one way school districts are ensuring the sustainability of their 1-to-1 programs.
4 min read
Sawyer Wendt, a student intern for the Altoona school district’s IT department, repairs a Chromebook.
Sawyer Wendt, who's been a student intern for the Altoona district's tech department since junior year, is now studying IT software development in college.
Courtesy of Jevin Stangel, IT technician for the Altoona school district