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Mark Adams speaks with students from the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Missouri.
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The new teleconferencing room had been the school's long unused television studio.
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Cameras provide the two-way direction so instructors can see the students and respond.

McCann Classroom Equipped for Long-Distance Learning

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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McCann students were able to get a history lesson from the Truman Library through the new long-distance learning classroom. Superintendent James Brosnan joined them for the first teleconference.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – McCann Technical School held its first teleconference Tuesday afternoon.

Students of Ken Recore’s 10th grade history course met with other schools from across the country online and discussed post-World War II America with Mark Adams, educational specialist at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Missouri.

McCann has a newly installed teleconference room for long-distance learning with two televisions, webcams, microphones and computer-ready desks.

Students are now able to interact with other students in virtual classrooms in real time.

Principal Justin Kratz sees benefits in the use of teleconference in the classroom setting.

"What we are trying to do is open up opportunities for our students that are going to prepare them for life in the 21st century," he said. "We do everything we can to bring the larger world to our students and these types of interactions will give our students a huge advantage."

Kratz sees technology like the teleconferencing as a critical aspect of a technical school education. He believes it will better prepare students better for the future job environment.

"We want to look for ways to make connections with universities, with industry, education organizations and expand our curriculum," Kratz said.

Beyond the educational aspects of the teleconference, Kratz believes it shows students how to interact with the world. McCann students interacted with classrooms in Texas, California and Arizona.

"They saw students from all over the country today, and they are learning how to interact with professionals and how to talk to people from all walks of life," Kratz said. "I think about the impact this will have on the students in terms of confidence, public speaking and speaking clearly."

Although the first teleconference focused on history, Kratz sees its use in all elements of the McCann curriculum.

"We are going to encourage our teachers to find ways to incorporate this into all aspects of the curriculum, and I don’t really see it as having any boundaries in academic, vocational or specific shops," he said. "There could be a culinary institute that has a cooking demonstration our kids could sit in on or different industries could give tours of facilities."

McCann purchased the technology needed for the teleconference from Polycom. They supplied the school with a list of resources and opportunities that include possible teleconferences with NASA and the Smithsonian Institute.

Student Dakota Hazell was shocked by the new educational technology and sees many possibilities in it.

"It's crazy that you can talk to people from all over the country, and I didn’t know there was going to be all these other schools," he said. "I would like to see the Vermont and Massachusetts capitol buildings and talk to senators and historians."

Kratz said the teleconference room is part of a bigger push toward technology.

"If we really want to push students towards the workplace, as it is today, this is what we have to do," he said. "As a technical school we have to be at the forefront and prepare our students for high skilled jobs."

Tags: long-distance learning,   McCann,   teleconference,   

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