School Board in Favour of Video-conferencing Expansion
Prince George, B.C. – In a bid to better serve its rural students and staff, the Prince George School Board has voted in favour of expanding the district’s video-conferencing capacity.
At its public meeting last night, the Board unanimously agreed to the following motion: “That the Board of Education move forward with a pilot project to expand videoconferencing capacity to better accommodate the needs of rural students and staff, subject to funding.”
A motion put forward by Trustee Trish Bella to postpone the project until the district’s new superintendent arrives in September was defeated.
Trustee Sharel Warrington says it’s too soon to say when the pilot will begin though.
“It would be too early to say because we do have some options that we presented but this conversation needs to go through a process where we identify what the pilot project would look like. But I have no doubt that we’ll be looking at this within the year and I think that our new superintendent will want to have some input into what that will look like.”
She said the cost of fully implementing expanded video-conferencing could cost anywhere from upwards of $500,000 for the ‘Cadillac’ version to somewhere between $100,000 to $200,000 if the district was to simply improve their current video-conferencing capabilities.
The motion was one of the 14 recommendations to come out of the district’s Ad Hoc Committee on Rural Education.
According to a report by the Education Services Committee, the expansion would benefit students in the following ways:
- Increased student course choice and opportunities. Connecting with classes in other districts.
- Increased opportunities for ‘blended learning’ (learning between in person and online).
- Dual credit opportunities with UNBC, CNC
- Individualized learning as per new curriculum
The report says video-conferencing would help rural staff as well by addressing the following:
- A sense of isolation by creating trans-district connections either between staff or students.
- The need for learning team collaboration.
- Issues with teaching multi-grade classes.
- Lack of training opportunities.
- Access to professional support staff and colleagues for meeting, conferences.
- Mentoring support for new teachers.
- Safety issues.