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Emerging Technologies and STA (part 1 of 2)

9/30/2011
Last April, Mrs. Knapp introduced Mr. Collins to Ms Sybille Gray of Cisco Technologies.  Ms Gray came to St. Thomas as a representative of Cisco’s “TelePresence” Division, which is dedicated to videoconferencing and other forms a telecommunication.
 
In the course of the conversation, some exciting educational initiatives were discussed, and a new partnership was formed.  As part of Mr. Collins’ efforts to reach out and serve the Seacoast’s Catholic elementary schools, Cisco would partner with STA by loaning two sets of teleconferencing demo units, which would be shared with St. Elizabeth Seton School in Rochester.
 
One pair of devices (Cisco’s EX-60) would target one-on-one tutoring, while a pair of C-20 High Def codex units would allow entire classrooms to take “virtual field trips.”  In this short news story, we will tell you about the C-20 devices.
 
Cisco’s incredible C-20 unit allows a teacher to link up via the Internet with one of many “distance learning sites.”  For the pilot program, Mrs. Jennifer Duprat was asked to have the equipment installed in her room and to develop some lessons for it.  As STA’s Geography teacher (part of our Freshman Seminar course), Mrs. Duprat was able to access numerous multicultural interactive sites through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (www.CILC.org). 
 
CILC is a clearinghouse of organizations and institutions that offer distance classes using Cisco devices. A teacher can register, login and browse the offerings.  Then the distance-learning organization and the teacher schedule a day and time for the lesson.  Using the C-20 device, Mrs. Duprat can simply call in and connect via the Internet at the scheduled time.
 
On Friday, September 30, Mrs. Duprat’s Geography class was treated to a long-distance interactive lesson on West African dance “along the River Niger,” taught by Mr. Marc Kotz, owner of “Born 2 Move Movement Adventure” in Wisconsin.  With the Cisco setup, Mr. Kotz could easily see the students and ask questions of them (and vice-versa).
 
After a brief discussion of the geography and culture of West, Mr. Kotz had the entire class up and thoroughly engaged, teaching them a “harvest dance” as they “set out along the River Niger” so that they’d “have some food for their journey.”  Without hesitation, this group of 9th graders enthusiastically joined in the dance, following Mr. Kotz’ dance steps as he demonstrated them from his dance studio over 1,000 miles away.
 
Mrs. Duprat could not have asked for a better first long-distance, high-tech lesson.  Not only a reinforcement of her geography lessons, but a chance to experiment with some cutting edge technology, and have some fun.  As STA moves toward the 21st century, this first step is an exciting one.
 
At the conclusion of the loan period, STA and Cisco will work on crafting grant proposals to fund the purchase of the equipment and also provide funds for the ongoing programs.  We are especially grateful to Cisco and Ms Sybille Gray for the opportunity to embark on this journey.

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