Round the world on a whiteboard

TECHNOLOGY is being used to overcome the tyranny of distance with an historic use of existing hardware at four Clarence Valley schools.

The Connected Classroom project was the brainchild of the four primary school principals of Copmanhurst, Tucabia, Baryulgil and Nymboida public schools. The school heads knew it was possible to conduct classes between schools using their interactive whiteboards, but the actual execution was a little beyond them.

Enter technology whiz Melissa Moyle, who works inconspicuously as a teacher/librarian at Lawrence Public School.

Ms Moyle was brought on board to be the Connected Classroom teacher and bring together the four schools via broadband. Though Nymboida hasn’t yet been prepped, the other three schools have been conducting joint classes and collating data as part of the exercise.

“Today we did up a graph outlining how the kids from all three schools get to school,” Ms Moyle said.

Regarding the program in general, Ms Moyle said most schools had the technology in place, but this kind of interaction was not common.

Yesterday afternoon, Copmanhurst students were planning on being the first students in Australia to connect with Questacon in Canberra for a “video conference excursion”.

“They get to ask questions and yes, get responses live on the screen,” Ms Moyle said.

But that, as Ms Moyle said, was just the tip of the iceberg.

The tool can and will be used to share the skills of star teachers in certain fields and possibly specialist musical applications such as ukulele lessons.

“It’s all about getting the kids the absolute best education available,” a clearly passionate Ms Moyle said.

But, she warned, though video conference excursions were being offered by more and more organisations, some were very expensive.

“Questacon was free which is why we are doing it,” she said, laughing.

Other options included tours of the NASA Space Centre in Houston or the Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef in northern Queensland. Ms Moyle said the reaction had been enthusiastic from teachers and students alike.

“The teachers are very excited and are wanting to get their hands on the technology, I’m giving them the confidence to move forward with it,” she said. “Schools such as Baryulgil are very isolated so this kind of interaction is very powerful for them.”

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