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CNYRIC: Championing the use of VC for New York Schools

June 24, 2014

With a short flight out of New York I dropped into Syracuse to visit the Central New York Regional Information Center (CYNRIC), an entity that serves as educational support for 50 school districts and four Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) across eight counties in the central region of New York State. Everything from technology integration, flipped learning consultancy to digital media loans is covered plus in addition to this they help schools get connected with video conferencing equipment and help teachers learn how to use VC in a varieyt of situations.

During this visit it was fantastic to meet Amy Spath, who apart from many things is the Coordinator of E-Learning and Special Projects at CNYRIC and the Chair of the ISTE SIGIVC (bit of a mouthful here…the International Society for Technology in Education Special Interest Group for Interactive Videoconferencing… phew!). Amy has been heavily involved with getting schools involved in distance learning and champions the use of interactive technologies to prepare students for the digital economy. Apart from providing IVC professional development through conferences such as 123VC, Amy works closely with schools looking to connect with remote instructors who can act as surrogate teachers to teach units of work that may not be available to the school on-site. There is even an option to learn American Sign Language, presented by a qualified teacher to students across the State.

Amy and me with little 'RIC', plus some Vegemite for the staff!

Amy and me with little ‘RIC’, plus some Vegemite for the staff!

It was fun to chat about how connecting remote sites enriches participants lives from both a lesson and cultural point of view. I was very interested to hear how a remote science class, maths class and french language class combined their expertise in a colloaborative project which called for an artwork to be sent around the country so that each site could contribute to add to the final shared project; science for clothing dyes, maths geometric designs and french art using mud paints. Plus we had time to chat about the geeky side of video conferencing – the gadgets, social media integration and how H.323 services to tablets and desktops will continue to grow in this connected century. I loved the chance to finally see the Swivl, a product I had seen a year ago that transforms an iPad into a movable camera which follows the speaker’s voice as they move across the room. Want one 🙂

SWIVL iPad tool

SWIVL iPad tool

After a quick trip to Zebbs for some local burgers it was time to head off back to New York.
The next stop on this Winston Churchill Fellowship will be at the New York Hall of Science. Can’t wait!

All the best,

Ben

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