Saturday, November 28, 2009

CAPspace and Polycom

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting at the local AEA (Area Education Agency). The presenter demonstrated new technology they had recently acquired.

There are two components of this technology: CAPspace and Polycom.

CAPspace: CAP stands for Collaborations Around the Planet. CAPspace is a social networking site for education videoconferencing. Members log in just as they would to any social network. They can create and advertise their projects to other educators around the world. They can also attend collaborative events, do projects, teach classes, and more.

Polycom is the hardware used for videoconferencing. It is similar to a webcam, but more advanced. Groups of people in separate locations can be connected. Each location can tune into any other location to ask and answer questions, to collaborate on lessons, to listen and learn. The entire system runs through computers and is operated with a remote control.

The advantages of such a system are limitless.

1. Field Trips: Students can take field trips to anywhere in the world. They can attend classes in other countries or visit museums, historical sites, Congress, NASA, or maybe even zoos. These are places they might not otherwise be able to see because of the physical or financial limitations.

2. Shared Classes: Classes in different locations can work together using the technology. They might work on lessons or projects. Schools with limited budgets might be able to get by with fewer teachers by sharing classes. One teacher could present the lesson to several classes in physically different locations.

3. Professional Development: Professional development can be very expensive. The fees for keynote speakers, conference registrations, and travel expenses add up quickly. Videoconferencing using CAPspace and Polycom can take care of all these with minimum costs.

The biggest expense for this system is the hardware purchase. After that, everything goes through a computer.

CAPspace and Polycom seems to be a win-win combination. Students and teachers experience more with increased learning and school districts can reduce budgets.

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