|Conklin Academy Goes High-Tech|
|Tuesday, 31 March 2009|
This winter, unlike any other winter, the students of Conklin International Academy were welcomed by their teacher Miss Linda Brewer in a virtual classroom. When the ended in October, the students dispersed across the nation to their respective homes in Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Although hundreds of miles apart, the students joined for class with the aid of their computers, web cameras and microphones. The internet kept them linked for academics and socialization.
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The idea began in February of 2008 when John Gallant and Conrad Duke set up a computer network in the traveling school trailer. A new curriculum distributed by Alpha Omega Publications was in its trial stages at the Conklin International Academy. During the traveling season assignments were completed on the students’ computers. With the aid of the network, the teacher could monitor their progress from her computer. Messages were exchanged between the teacher and students by attaching notes to the assignments. Yet, while traveling together, the class met for cooperative course work, and the teacher was always available for one-on-one personal assistance.
As the season was drawing to a close, the students had additional software loaded onto their laptops for the Distance Learning portion of the curriculum. A list of assignments and their due dates were created to keep each student on schedule. Each assignment includes new subject material presented through both text and multi-media, interactive activities. Following the new information are questions that measure the student’s understanding of the concepts. Schoolwork is completed anytime during the day, and upon completion, the student connects to the internet and clicks the “Synchronize” button on their screen. Their work is sent to the school database to be picked-up by the teacher for evaluation. Messages continue to be exchanged between the teacher and student, but to acquire personal attention and instruction, another facet of the virtual school needed to be added.
The next addition to Conklin International Academy’s online school was its virtual classroom. Inside the classroom, the students and teacher can see and hear each other with the use of webcameras and microphones. Furthermore, the teacher can write lecture notes on the whiteboard that everyone can see. One-on-one tutoring is accomplished in this virtual classroom, and it allows the teacher and students to keep connected. Diagrams, photos and even video clips can be shared during class by using the PowerPoint presentation option. The possibilities seem endless.
Just as the outdoor amusement business industry needs to evolve to thrive in the 21st century, so does the Conklin International Academy. The addition of this virtual school will open possibilities that were not available only a few years ago. It is hoped that this program will continue to offer the high quality of education for which Conklin International Academy has come to be known, reaching even more students wherever they happen to be located.
The Conklin International Academy had six students participate in the online program. In the past, some students transfer to other schools for the winter. This keeps them learning and socializing. For these students, there were no requirements.This year, for the first time, Miss Linda required the full-time students who did not transfer to participate in the online program for at least six weeks. It served as a trial for the program.
Assignments were scheduled Monday - Friday for three weeks each month. Each unit could be completed and tested in three weeks, so the schedule was a natural choice. Three weeks in November and December allowed for plenty of free time during the holidays. The number of months required for each student was determined by their academic position and parents' suggestions.
Indeed there are always challenges. In this case they had some computers that were too old to handle the program, lack of internet access and children traveling to visit other family members. These were the obvious complications, but the overall greatest challenge was simply beginning something new. Miss Linda is always providing the students with the latest and greatest in education. We thank her for her continued dedication.