December 1, 2011
While many students have the opportunity to take part in educational programming at the Aquarium of the Pacific throughout the school year, Aquarium educators have taken steps to provide access to the Aquarium’s programs and animals for students across the country and around the world. Now, through innovative use of technology, the Aquarium can send its programming and a virtual educator into classrooms around the world. With the newly launched Roddenberry Foundation Education Videoconferencing Studio, the Aquarium has joined a network of content providers that includes museums, zoos, and other cultural institutions. Through this network, teachers and other program planners can request one of seven different video conference programs with an Aquarium educator.
Once a session is scheduled, the Aquarium educator is able to teach and interact with groups of people in a screen-to-screen format similar to online video chat. Many school districts and counties now have videoconferencing equipment available to teachers. “Videoconferencing is quickly becoming an invaluable tool that teachers are using to get their students outside of the classroom walls without ever leaving the classroom,” says Sarah Swain, the Aquarium’s education technology and media coordinator. Videoconferencing allows educators to get students involved during the session and students to ask questions and learn interactively. Aquarium educators are even able to lead dissections in videoconferencing sessions.
This technology has expanded the Aquarium’s reach across the country and even internationally. Schools in Canada and Mexico have already expressed interest in the Aquarium’s videoconference offerings, Swain says. While students in kindergarten through twelfth grade will be the largest audience for this program, other public groups can also take part. Senior centers, after-school programs, and public libraries are among the groups that have access to videoconferencing technology. If you know of a group interested in setting up a video conference class, call (562) 951-1630.