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Why race? Get to the top via video…

December 15, 2009
at 5:37 pm PST

In a recent post we discussed how STEM subjects are becoming increasingly important in preparing students for the hi-tech, hi-demand jobs of the future. The fact is, there is a renewed focus on STEM subjects, core curriculum and all subjects. That’s because American students are losing ground compared to the rest of the world.

This is why President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have fired the starting gun on Race to the Top, an initiative that will distribute $4.35 billion in grants intended to help revitalize and reform the American education system. The funds are to be spent on turning around low performing schools, improving teacher and administrator talent, establishing standards and creating systems to help monitor success and perpetuate best practices.

These aren’t small tasks to accomplish, but there are tools that school systems can acquire to help them along the way. One of these tools is video teleconferencing (VTC), which can positively impact schools and help them address every one of these areas.

When working to turn around low performing schools, VTC can have significant and positive benefits in the classroom, such as:

  • Virtual fieldtrips -- Virtual fieldtrips are inexpensive and efficient ways to give students first-person experiences and let them actively participate for real-life application of the lessons.
  • Credit replacement -- Students falling behind can utilize VTC for credit replacement and get themselves back on track.
  • Guest speakers -- Experts from various fields and anywhere on the globe come right into the classroom for interactive discussions.
  • Resource sharing -- Schools utilize VTC to share resources, including teachers. This means subjects frequently being cut -- such as art, music and languages -- can be maintained at even the most resource-strapped schools.

But the benefits of VTC in the educational environment don’t stop at the classroom door.

The Race to the Top initiative calls for improving teacher and administrator talent, which is yet another area where VTC can benefit schools. With VTC, teachers and principals can attend seminars, connect and share best practices all without expensive travel and missing school days.

By integrating VTC solutions across a region, school administrators can easily meet to discuss the establishment of universal academic standards and identify the practices that have been effective and ineffective at helping students reach those standards.

Here at TANDBERG, we commend the effort to improve America’s schools and give them the resources to make the necessary changes in the form of the Race to the Top funds. We’re also sure that America’s schools will regain top status. However, why race to the top when you can get there via video? It’s cheaper and faster and the views are the same. Now that’s a new way of learning.

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