Thursday, November 06, 2008

Telementoring brings experts to the classroom

People attend education conferences to learn new things and share ideas that can benefit students in the classroom. Another thing that make conferences interesting is looking at vendor booths to mainly see what they have to give away which gives sales people a chance to talk to you about what they have to offer you that will cure your educational woes. Most of the time the products being pitched either are too expensive, don't fit your situation, can't purchase it because your district just purchased a competitor's product, or you don't have the decision making authority. However, there are rare times that you find something new, exciting, and you actually can procure and use. For me today was one of those days.

Cynergi Systems, a company that provides multimedia technology solutions for the education market, announced a new solution that could provide more expertise in classrooms, South Carolina EduSpace. South Carolina EduSpace, according to company CEO Neil Willis, is a telementoring system providing experts in business or higher education the chance to speak to classes in K12 schools via teleconferencing. While teleconferencing is nothing new, the fact that Cynergi is providing this service to schools for free had my jaw on the ground. In a breakout session on the product at 2008 South Carolina EdTech, Willis explained the service will be paid for by advertising. A brief ad at the beginning of a session will be shown. Willis promised the ads will be appropriate for schools to show.

To book a speaker teachers will go to the website and view available speakers in the subject area desired. Teachers will be able to choose the best speakers based on ratings given to speakers by other teachers. Once a speaker is chosen, the website will act as a go between to arrange a booking. One school and up to three different speakers can be used at one time. All the participants need is a video camera capable of steaming video over the Internet. Each session is recorded and teachers will be able to download sessions for further use.

Currently, Cynergi is beta testing South Carolina EduSpace in four Palmetto State school districts but Willis says every county and school district will be able to use the service after January 1st. Also, businesses and colleges are being signed up to provide both speakers and sponsorship funds. Another thing to remember is this service is only being offered to South Carolina schools. It is great sign that businesses in South Carolina are investing money into education with an uncertain economy. Hopefully, they will soon realize this investment will not go bust as Wall Street banks did a short time ago.

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