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Video delivers fieldtrips for schools battling budgets

January 6, 2011 - 0 Comments

We all know the ongoing economic situation has been tough on local and state governments – with tightening belts on cutting budgets across the board. Since school budgets come predominantly from state tax dollars, this belt tightening has led to schools being asked to do more with so much less.

With arts and extracurricular programs being cut or eliminated and other resources shortages, it has made it increasingly difficult for educators to provide an interesting educational opportunity for students outside the classroom walls. Seriously, how can you propose spending budget dollars to send students to the local planetarium when if you can’t afford enough textbooks?

Schools that have invested in video teleconferencing (VTC) and Telepresence solutions are finding virtual fieldtrips to be excellent alternatives. Take Capshaw Elementary School in Cookeville, Tennessee, as an example.

According to a recent article in their local paper, The Herald-Citizen, the third grade students at Capshaw were studying a unit about factories. The third grade teachers decided that a field trip to nearby Calsonic Kansei‘s manufacturing plant in Shelbyville would be perfect to help bring the lessons to life for the students. Unfortunately, the funding just wasn’t there to take the 100 mile trip.

So, the students were brought to Upperman High School’s distance learning lab, where they connected live via video with the Calsonic Kansei’s manufacturing plant. They received a history lesson about the company and tour of the facility. Best of all, they got to experience three different production processes and then ask questions about each.

This was the first time a virtual fieldtrip was done for students in Putnam County. Based on the results, it won’t be the last. Student questions were indicative of a true understanding of the concepts they were learning in the classroom.

VTC and Telepresence are breaking down the walls between students and high level educational opportunities outside of the classroom. Now that’s a new way of teaching….and learning!

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