(Cross Posted @ Augusta Insider)
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree secured $473,000 for developing video conferencing in Maine schools. 12 vocational schools and technical centers in 11 counties will receive part of the grant. The video conferencing technology allows a class to be broadcast to anyone over the network. This broadcast is not one way. The instructor can see and hear every classroom tapped in. In a rural state like Maine, the advantages of this technology become apparent quickly.
“Maine’s network of technical schools performs the extremely important tasks of training the state’s workforce and helping Maine adapt to a changing economy,” said Pingree. “This equipment will help ease some of our large state’s geographical boundaries, allowing teachers and students of all ages to learn from each other, share resources, and collaborate from one end of Maine to the other.”
Maine’s vocational schools offer a wide variety of programs for adults and those still attending high school. Nursing, early childhood education, metal trades, and forestry are just a few of the programs offered. These programs are wonderful. If you know you will not be attending college, these programs can get you right into the work force after high school. Adults returning to learn a new trade can benefit as well.
Some school districts have employed this technology as well. MSAD #43, now part of RSU #10, used video conferencing to offer courses in American Sign Language. The Governor Baxter School for the Deaf broadcast the class to Mountain Valley High School students. Having worked as a computer technician at MSAD #43, I can attest that the class couldn’t have run more smoothly if the students were actually at the Baxter School.
Politicians and gubernatorial hopefuls should pay attention. Maine needs to continue expanding this technology to all of its schools. Expansion may be expensive, but think of the benefits. College level courses, collaboration between schools hours apart, and vastly diversified learning opportunities are just some of the advantages video conferencing could bring to Maine students. Video conferencing in schools isn’t something Maine can afford to be behind in.