We just got the word that our parochial school is getting a grant from the State of NJ to be used for technology. We are fortunate to have an administrator who is pro-technology. In addition, we have great resources: SmartBoards, Airliners, wireless laptops for middle-school, Interactive White Boards for the 6 middle-school teachers among others.

I am trying to come up with a proposal for Distance Learning which I believe the school needs at this point. What would you recommend, equipment-wise? Are there manufacturers that you would recommend? Thanks for all your input.

Tags: distance_learning, equipment, technology

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Hi LTschang,

As far as Virtual Classroom technology for your distance learning needs take a look at WiZiQ.

Its great that your school was awarded the grant and that the initiative was taken in the first place apply.

Congratulations.

Mark Cruthers
Thanks Mark. I was also considering getting equipment that would be used for videoconferencing. I saw the NASA Distance Learning site and it has several brands that it recommends. I was wondering if anyone of you have any preference - pros and cons - that you could share with me prior to my "big" ticket item purchase. I appreciate it.
WiZiQ's basic service is free so there is no investment of money. i would start there and then look around.
Can you give us some idea of how you want to use distance learning - who is going to teach whom at a distance? What benefits do you hope to get, compared to having that teaching take place locally? I feel sure the community can come up with a lot of ideas, once we understand what you hope to achieve.
We would be using distance learning mostly for Science. We would like the students too have an expert on the subject matter being discussed in the classroom....although this time, it will be "distant". I took a look at the NASA distance learning, the Adler Planetarium, zoos etc. In short, we want the students to see more of what is out there but not necessarily going there.

I must say that for now, it will be mostly for Science. But of course, as we get better in using this distance learning, we could use it for any subject.

I wanted to find out if we need a different equipment. Do we need a TV screen, a different camera, a different microphone other than what we already have in our PC's/laptops? I would like the distance learning presenter to see the class and be able to interact with the students as if he/she is in the classroom.

I am sure there are a lot of benefits to distance learning. There is the accessibility to learning and the ability to choice a variety of institutions for learning. It will also address the issue on flexibility and time. It also helps in the school's marketability.

So there are several things that we are hoping to accomplish with distance learning. Thanks for all your replies.
I took a look at Adler, and I see the sort of thing you are after. They might be the best people to advise you on particular equipment that they have found works best with what they have.

Before you completely commit to videoconferencing, though, you might want to think about whether that is really the most cost-effective kind of distance learning for your school. It is both capital intensive and has high running costs as you will have to pay the remote presenters.

You may be able to get more bang for your buck by looking at asynchronous distance learning methods such as podcasts (which Adler also do) or remote collaboration with other schools. You only have to browse around Classroom 2.0 for half an hour to get an amazing, inspiring list of distance learning methods that colleagues are using to educate and inspire their students.
We use Tandberg equipment in all of our schools because of the H323 technology and use it frequently for videoconferencing and IVC classes daily. We like the ease of use and user friendly interface. I think Polycom makes similar equipment and both are experienced in the K-12 Market. We have had our Tandberg equipment for 6 years and have only had to make software upgrades - all of the equipment still works as well as the day we bought it.
Thanks for your replies. I am in the process of investigating the Polycom and the Tandberg videoconferencing equipments as I found quite a lot of collaborative projects that our school could get involved with.
After seeing both Tandberg and Polycom systems, I would say that I am impressed with Polycom. We were shown the HDX 7000 series which is not the top of the line for Polycom (9000 series is) yet we were already amazed at the ease of functionality. To get this kind of equipment with Tandberg would mean much more money. Thanks for all your replies.
Hi Lauriene Tschang,

You could choose Virtual Classroom technology for you. WiZiQ offers free online e-teaching and e-learning using web conferencing with document and whiteboard sharing, teacher resumes and presentation sharing.

Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is the complete Web communications solution that enables live online meetings, virtual classes, and group collaboration.

Further more, there are many free eLearning tools for you to use in sunnyY's blog, you use it for your distance learning.

Top E-Learning Tools of 2009 You Shouldn’t Teach Without

Regards.
There is a new effort germinating at www.hiddenguru.com. The effort is to make a open course for whole world. Each and every feature like desktop sharing, white board sharing all that you need for distance learning is there. And above all it is absolutely free.

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