Students at all of Cherokee School District’s 41 campuses may soon be able to utilize global video conferencing technology to expand their collaborative and educational reach.
Cherokee County School district director of Data Communications, Tim Feltner, said on Wednesday that the video conferencing technology was installed in all Cherokee County School District high schools this year, and said they may be coming to middle schools next school year.
“The long-term plan is to install one unit in all schools. Last year, we installed it in all the STEM Academies and all the Fine Arts Academies, so we’ve had it in those schools for one full school year,” Feltner said.
The technology can be used for many things, Feltner said.
“This is high definition video conferencing equipment,” Feltner said. “Any equipment that is compatible with that throughout the world should (be able to) connect.”
Feltner said that the technology was used to do great things last year, like when the students at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy who used the equipment to video conference with members of mission control who operated the International Space Station.
“We had several calls last year to NASA, we’ve had successful calls to the Glacier National Park … we’ve had some calls to Ghana, Africa, and we’ve had calls to the Georgia Tech Research Institute,” Feltner said.
Principal of Etowah High School, Keith Ball, said that the high school’s two new Chinese classes are going to start using the technology to do outreach with their feeder schools in the fall, primarily Clark Creek.
“We know (the new video conferencing equipment) has got a lot of utilities,” Ball said. “In our language department, besides our Chinese teacher talking with our feeder schools during community outreach, there’s a ton of programs that our world language department would use.”
Ball said that Etowah’s World Language department head, Dr. Claudia Larrotta, is working to set up Spanish exchanges with the video technology.
“Utility use is high, dual experiments is something my science department is talking about,” Ball said. “Whether it’s at a university level or another high school, they can actually conduct the experiments at the same time. It’s just so cool.”
Opportunities with the new technology for social studies classes include things like speaking to elected officials and virtually watching United Nations meetings, Ball said.
“We’re going to wear it out, that’s for sure,” he said.
Feltner said that with the new technology students can collaborate from school to school, visit other places through virtual field trips and have virtual speakers visit without having to travel.
The technology is being funded through the education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, Feltner said.