Infrastructure

A Click Away

By Amanda Jones — April 20, 2007 2 min read

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

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

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.
Sponsor
Infrastructure Whitepaper
The Value of Automation in K-12 Schools Back Office
Download this eBook to learn more about how automation can help improve and streamline operations for K-12 school districts' back-office ...
Content provided by SAP Concur
Infrastructure Internet Access Is a Civil Rights Issue
In the world’s wealthiest country, why is broadband access denied to so many and in such high numbers? Mark Lieberman investigates.
7 min read
v40 6BI ML IMG
Illustration by Jamiel Law
Infrastructure Schools Handed Out Millions of Digital Devices Under COVID-19. Now, Thousands Are Missing
Some districts are scrambling to account for thousands of devices—a task made more urgent by the uncertainty over when students will be able to return to school buildings full-time.
5 min read
1 Laptops ARTICLE
Getty
Infrastructure How to Address Big Tech Equity Challenges
School districts are facing huge tech equity issues this school year, especially if schools return to full-time remote learning. Here’s how they are addressing those challenges.
7 min read
Sam Urban Wittrock, a history teacher at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, shows an example of one of the many WiFi hotspot devices his school district is giving to students. Schools nationwide are gearing up to do a better job this academic year making sure digital devices and WiFi access are available to all students.
Sam Urban Wittrock, a history teacher at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, shows an example of one of the many WiFi hotspot devices his school district is giving to students. Schools nationwide are gearing up to do a better job this academic year making sure digital devices and WiFi access are available to all students.
Tony Gutierrez/AP