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Video Conferencing: Overcoming Geographic Isolation

In 2014, Kerang Christian College constructed a new Secondary School Wing at the College, which was officially opened on the 21st April 2015. A key feature of this building project was the development of a video conferencing facility. This facility will allow our students and teachers to work collaboratively with other schools and resource providers. Our students are looking forward to attending “virtual excursions” and accessing courses that may not be available at our school. We know that video conferencing is a tool that can break down geographical barriers and allow us to offer enriched educational opportunities for our school community.

The building project will have long-term benefits for the College beyond the current needs in 2015. We hope to allow students to share their classes via video conferencing with students from other schools, increasing opportunities for our students to study a breadth of subjects. This is a wonderful opportunity for a small, rural school such as Kerang Christian College. This infrastructure will provide an opportunity for more students at the College to complete VCE studies.

The video conference facilities are viewed as a key ICT tool for the College as we expand further into Senior Secondary. We are aiming to increase our interaction and communication with other schools for the benefit of all students in the College. This includes student-to-student, teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-student interactions.  Our College has established some partnerships with other Christian schools throughout Victoria with the assistance of the Victoria/Tasmania branch of Christian Schools Australia (CSA). We are looking forward to the ongoing potential of sharing teaching resources between schools to best meet the learning needs of our students and students in other rural communities.

The former Victorian Minister for Education highlighted the benefits of video conferencing for rural schools stating that this type of initiative enables “… schools to log on and link up with other schools across the state to share classes and provide students with greater subject choice and more educational opportunities.” Furthermore, he noted, “It will now be possible for smaller rural schools to offer particular VCE classes to just one or two students by linking in with a class hundreds of kilometers away.” (Office of the Premier, 2011, p.1)

The video conferencing facilities will also provide the College with an opportunity to expand the school professional learning and development program for staff. Evidence shows that networked learning communities produce greater outcomes than schools operating alone. Video conferencing can assist in gaining easier access to professional learning in the areas of curriculum development, student wellbeing, teacher support and networking with colleagues from around the world.

The development of video conference facilities at Kerang Christian College is a significant initiative in2015. Rooms such as the video conference room will provide the College with an opportunity to break down barriers that traditionally impact the success of rural schools. This type of infrastructure will bring the world to the classroom for our students.

Michael Bond
Principal

References

Office of the Premier. (2011). New Victorian Government video conference initiative creates virtual classrooms [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/. 

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