Friday, November 11, 2011

The Virtual Classroom

I remember the first time that I heard the phrase "distance education".  I was in my first year of grad school, and my favorite professor was preparing to to teach a class that would meet in two places at once. The class that I would attend would be taught "live" at FSU and the sister class would be taught via video conference  at a location two hours west of us.  I was mesmerized by this process.  It seemed so futuristic.  The students at the "sister" site, would fax their questions in to our professor as the class progressed.  It was so cutting- edge.

Fast forward, (too many years than I care to admit) to more recent times.  Our middle-school-aged monkeys have been attending a grammar and composition class for the past two years. Their teacher is amazing and she teaches at the high school and middle school levels.  The super cool feature of this class is that it is completely taught online in real time.  Their teacher sends an email link to each of the students, the students log in to the class, and the learning commences.  It blows my mind!  There is a virtual whiteboard, video feeds of the teacher and each student, a "raise hand" button, headsets, and learning galore!  It's like the Jetsons on steroids.

The most fantastic feature of all to me is that this virtual class is totally portable.  We took the class on the road with us recently down to our favorite island in Southwest Florida.  As long as there was WiFi (Starbucks to the rescue), class was in session.

Adjectives, adverbial phrases, clincher statements, and thesis statements all over a frappuccino in paradise.  Not too shabby.



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