North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.
V olume XII
• k k ^ k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k h. k k k k h. k k k k k k k k. k. k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k. h. h. k k h. k. k. k k k. h. k k k k k k k h. h. h. h. h. k k k k k k k k k h. h. k k. h. h. k k. k k k k k k k k k k k k k k h. k k h. k h. k. k. h. h. Ik ku b. k k k k k k k k k k. k k k k k k k k k k k k h. k. k k k. k k k k k k k k k k k k k b. k k k k k k k k k k k k k k k. k h. k. k k k
Class of the Future?
The introductory music to Science of the Mind wakes you up just in time
to dash to your terminal, log onto the network and phone in on your modum.
A friendly technician answers, "Glad you made it. Let's begin." Dr. Man
ring, looking every bit Santa Claus's slimmer twin, appears on your TV
screen and introduces a demonstration on response time. Moments later, the
neurons of the brain lay mapped out on the monitor as you scribble furious
Sound futuristic? Well, for students at Riverside and Southern High
Schools, Distance Learning from NCSSM is already a reality.
Durham Cable and the media department broadcast AP U.S. History,
Precalculus and Science of the Mind each day. But if this sounds like PBS,
think again. These students have a chance to talk back to the teacher.
Students interact in a live broadcast with two-way audio and one-way
video. This means the teacher in the studio never sees which pupils sleep
during lectures, but there are facilitators on site to give hands-on explana
tions and help jumpstart those eight AM classes. In labs at the two
schools, students respond to questions through microphones and watch
graphics illustrating everything from precalculus data collection to U.S.
acquisition of new territory.
Katie Guillemete, a Jr. at Southern takes both the history and precal
culus classes. "We haven't really gotten to use the computers yet, but I'd
like more interaction with the other part of the class [at Riverside].
Working with Riverside adds a competitive edge to the classes."
"It's a way to share a teacher among a community that is different
from satellite in that all sectors can participate using simple, existing
technology," said Peggy Manring, Media Director at NCSSM. The school
received a grant last year to set up "a computer and teaching experiment."
Down-to-Earth distance learning is funded, in large part, by a grant
from the RJR-Nabisco Nabisco Next Century Schools Program, which
awards grants to any school that submits innovative plans to restructure
and improve education. Last year, RJR Nabisco awarded grants to fourteen
schools out of 1100 applications.
The flexibility of the distance learning classroom is almost as great as
in a regular setting, allowing the unique personalities of Jim Litle, Ginger
Wilson, Donita Robinson and Andres Manring to shine through each sub
ject. In the studio, the technician orchestrates the class, coordinating the
cameras, and cutting from the image of the teacher to computerized slides.
The teacher can highlight points with a computerized pointer (or mouse)
or diagram tough problems live. If students have questions, they can ask to
see previous notes or have the teacher rephrase a concept. Additional vis
ual aides can can be scanned in and appear on the screen in a matter of sec
Manring says she hopes to expand the project's computer component so
students can do research, send in computerized journal entries and turn in
homework through the network. In the future students will also be able to
take video tests, present projects and do group work over the airwaves.
Next year, the program plans to add another school, but will wait to
see how successful the first year is before re-evaluating the idea. Other
schools may already audit or "off-air" the classes. Hillside High, for in
stance, uses the Pre-Calculus programs for reference as this is the first year
they are using the same Pre-Cal curriculum.
A problem with expansion is that it may ruin what makes the Down-
to-Earth program unique: the low student-teacher ratio. Usually, in dis
tar'“-learning programs, the ratio is about 300:1. In this program, indi
vidual classes can be as small as seven or eight students.
Another drawback to expansion deals with scheduling. Already it
seems that Riverside and Southern have schedules as complicated as ours.
As a result, the flexibility with which the teachers may spend their time
is reduced. For instance, in order to show Dr. Manring's Science of the
Mind class at 12:30 four times a week, he is not able to teach 1,3,4 or 5 peri
ods; complicating the schedules of many NCSSM students who wish to
take the class.
"We're not saying we're better than a teacher," says Manring, "we're
saying we can present the content through a variety of technologies and get
the message across."
As the period draws to a close, the students get restless and begin tap
ping on the microphone. After a quick reprimand from technician Barbara
Ward, the students settle down to receive the final words from their in
structor. Manring concludes the period with some inspiring thoughts and of
course, homework, proving that the future may not be as bright as you
o p e d . Beth Glenn & Todd Sullivan
Also in This Issue:
Editorials & Opinion
African Dance Ensemble