110 video classrooms in 47 school districts help ensure K-12 students are taught robust curricula despite millions in Kansas education budget cuts
PLEASANTON, Calif. - Apr 10, 2012 : Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in open standards-based unified communications (UC), today announced that the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush has equipped 110 classrooms with Polycom® RealPresence® video as an innovative way to enhance the educational experience of more than 55,000 students, staff, administrators, and lifelong learners in Kansas and three other states.
"Kansas is very rural and students in smaller communities do not have access to the same learning activities that are available to kids in more affluent urban areas," said Lisa Blair, Director of Student Learning at Greenbush. "We turned to Polycom's video collaboration solution to create a distance learning program, enabling educational opportunities for students in these rural areas. Deploying RealPresence video systems in the classrooms and the RealPresence Platform in the network, school districts can now pool their resources and deliver innovative and enriching content to students. Budget cuts have left rural schools with very basic offerings, but through distance learning we're able to provide advanced and elective classes." Kansas, like many states, has lost more than 250 teachers statewide in the last few years due to education budget cuts. Distance learning helps provide quality educational opportunities for students despite the loss in funds and services.
Polycom is the video collaboration standard in the state of Kansas. Polycom-based distance learning classes are offered daily at elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state. Greenbush offers a large number of elementary academic programs that help students learn and help schools meet rigorous standards in science, math, and social studies. Staff and administrative meetings are also held on the Greenbush Interactive Distance Learning Network. School districts have realized significant cost savings by offering teacher training and professional development via live video. In total, 55,000 to 60,000 individuals participate in events on the Greenbush network every year. The network extends beyond Kansas, delivering educational opportunities to students in Arkansas, Missouri, and Ohio.
Carol Woolbright, past director of the Greenbush Network and current director of the Chinese Language Program, explained that the decision to standardize on Polycom was based on a number of factors, including ease of use, and the efficiency and flexibility of the overall Polycom solution. The video systems integrate with a wide range of teaching tools including DVD players, overhead document cameras, multiple stereo audio sources, and computer and Internet-based content. Instructors can record and archive their lessons for on-demand access by students for review or make-up, which is enabled by the video content management capabilities of the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform.
One of the most impactful classes made possible through distance learning is Mandarin Chinese. The program started with 32 students in 2006 and is now at more than 1,100. "Mandarin Chinese has been a very successful program," says Karen Duling, principal of Pray Woodman Elementary in Maize, Kansas. "Without Polycom distance learning, we would not be able to offer this class. Our test scores show that this isn't just a culture lesson, these children are actually acquiring a second language through distance learning."
Woolbright and the Chinese language team are now looking at integrating tablet technology into Greenbush's distance learning environment to better teach Class 4 languages like Chinese and Arabic whose alphabet is different from English. Woolbright sees tremendous potential for Polycom® RealPresence® Mobile video, which allows teachers and students to take distance learning classes from anywhere, turning the entire world into a video and education hot spot.