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Wayne Post
  • Students gain college info from distance video conference

  • Nearly 400 sophomores from eight area school districts received information from representatives of three colleges in the large group instruction room at Newark High School February 6.

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  • Nearly 400 sophomores from eight area school districts received information from representatives of three colleges in the large group instruction room at Newark High School February 6.
    But 220 students from seven of the participating districts — Lyons, Williamson, Clyde-Savannah, Marion, Sodus, Romulus and Seneca Falls — weren’t actually there but listening, viewing and even asking questions in real time thanks to new distance videoconferencing technology equipment Newark and other schools have obtained in recent months with grant monies.
    Danielle McGavisk, director of counseling at NHS, said the new technology enabled greatly expanding the outreach of the annual opportunity normally afforded NHS students at the high school to ask questions of admissions representatives.
    This year, Dave Roberts from St. John Fisher College, Megan Sarkis from SUNY Brockport and Ann Pontious from Finger Lakes Community College came to NHS to answer questions during two, 45-minute sessions.
    Part of the sessions included the representatives discussing the pluses and minuses of three actual, but anonymous student transcripts and how they measured up as potential applicants to their colleges.
    “I thought it was really great,” McGavisk said. “The new technology allowed participation for so many more kids. I think our kids were interested not only in the questions students from other district asked, but also the way the technology was allowing it all to happen.”
    She said she also received positive feedback from the admissions representative about the distance videoconferencing component.
    Beyond the sheer number of students that were able to participate, McGavisk said at this time of the year, when students are scheduling courses for the next year, the benefit of being able to talk with admission representatives about what course options are best for various majors is invaluable.
    She said admissions counselors also stressed the importance of rigorous course work, continuing in foreign languages and good attendance throughout students’ entire high school career.
    McGavisk said the Newark will use the videoconferencing technology again next year to allow as many students from other districts as possible to participate.
    The new equipment used in the distance learning videoconference at NHS is also available at Newark Middle School, Kelley School and Perkins School. Perkins and Lincoln Schools share the equipment.
    It is anticipated this new technology,will pave the way for greater distance learning opportunities such as virtual field trips. And students in the not-too-distant-future being able to take courses in other districts that ours does not offer
    Yvonne Saner, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction envisions a broad spectrum of applications here including expansion of staff development opportunities.
    The Distance Learning grant — written by BOCES — included not only Newark, but Clyde-Savannah, Lyons, Marion, Newark, North Rose-Wolcott, Sodus and Williamson school districts receiving monies to purchase state-of-the-art Polycom Systems high definition, large-screen monitors and cameras that allow for high-quality visual and sound interaction between individuals in both locations.
    Page 2 of 2 - Unlike Skype and similar technology in which there is often some distortion and time lag in the streaming process, the system Newark and the other districts have been able to purchase provided such high-quality visual and sound components that it makes the experience of using it more compelling for participants and encourages greater interest and participation.
    Use of this technology will also result in savings to districts in transportation costs.
    Saner noted, for example, area districts that have been transporting students to Newark High School to take the Advanced Placement physics course that they do not offer, will save on that expense when it can be offered from here as a distant learning course.
    Another great savings will be on the cost of providing virtual field trips versus actually taking students to a place they are studying.
    As one example, she said students learning about early American history could virtually tour Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
    “We see this as a very positive move forward for our district that will be able to allow us to provide greater educational opportunities — not just for our students — but also for staff,’’ she said.
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