Flu TV…Instant (and Free) Customized Video Channels For H1N1 Schools
As hundreds of schools across America close for indefinite periods due to the H1N1 virus and thousands of students are sent home, education need not stop.
Instant video streams are available to public schools, at no cost, to continue the learning process. The power of live Internet streaming video per instructor, per class, to selected students and live should be realized today.
No one knows how long classes will be suspended in those parts of the nation affected by the spread of this strain of flu. But all a teacher needs is a web camera, a broadband connection and a connection to UStream.tv or JustIn.tv to broadcast, in real-time and interactively, the day’s lesson.
Many school districts have established broadcast outlets for regular television viewing. That’s yesterday’s technology. The frustrating limitations of having just one educational channel in a school district, which is limited to one program at any given moment, need not be accepted when thousands of students, at all grade levels and in multiple classes are unable to attend their schools.
Yesterday’s educational channel limitations can be transcended by utilizing the web to teach as many classes as a school wishes, simultaneously, live, with students being able to view and text back or call teachers from home. The use of multiple streaming video channels would cost the school nothing more than paying the teacher for his or her time, a cost which is already budgeted.
What’s more, given the basic equipment needed to broadcast, it takes about 10 minutes to set up each streaming presentation, which can last as long as necessary to get the message out.
Since the goal of closing 140 public schools in Ft. Worth was to avoid large concentrations of students, in an effort to avoid transmission of the flu, students who have high speed internet connections can watch from home, and those that do not can get together in smaller (and less risky) groups to watch their teachers convey the lesson of the day.
Valuable days of education need not be lost given the multidimensional opportunities to leverage the internet to get around the limitations of a brick and mortar school which is closed due to public health concerns.
It is the unlimited flexibility of live Internet video that makes it so appealing as a way to continue operations when schools are confronted with emergency situations like the one currently gripping the world. Literally hundreds of classes can be transmitted at the same time, for all grade levels, from anywhere.
What’s more, these streaming classes can be recorded and played again, at will, for later viewing.
Emergency situations often create great opportunities. It often takes defining moments such as this to move society ahead. We have the chance to make live Internet video a meaningful source to supplement education in times of national, state or local crisis. This “distance learning” is different than the models of the past because it allows for personalized teaching, by instructors who literally know each in their audience…and who can participate in a conversational way, in real time, with all of their students.
The H1N1 virus may not be the “big pandemic” scientists and doctors are so worried about. But it can help us leverage technology to prepare for that time, when it does arrive.
Is your school district using this technology? Please send us a comments and let us know.
Update 5.3.09…According to NPR on May 2, 2009, up to 400 schools are closed due to H1N1 influenza, affecting more than 250,000 students across the nation. Without school boards using technology to step up to the challenges presented by this situation, a lot of learing is suspended. According to the Fort Worth school district, students are texting a teacher to keep up with their lessons. As shown above, much, much more can be done. The students understand the opportunities presented by technology. Their message is, “embrace it to teach us.”