Wednesday, 17 October 2012 11:47

PRSD students learning through video conference technology earning high marks

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Tara Salmon, from Beyond Walls, teaches numerous courses using video conference technology. Tara Salmon, from Beyond Walls, teaches numerous courses using video conference technology. Photo submitted by Prairie Rose School Division

Fears that students taking classes through video conferencing weren’t receiving the same kind of education have been alleviated with the most recent provincial achievement testing (PAT) results.

At the Oct. 9 regular Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) board meeting, trustees were shown the PAT results for students who wrote the tests after receiving the core subjects through video conference technology.
“About eight years ago when we started this, it was a big concern,” said Brad Volkman, assistant superintendent. “The district has been tracking the results and our students are doing very well. The results are coming in higher than the Province and Prairie Rose results.”
In Social 6 exams taken by Jenner and Schuler students through video conferencing, 85.7 per cent of the students achieved acceptable on the PATs compared to 71.5 per cent in PRSD and 72.9 per cent provincially.
Achieving excellence was 28.6 per cent compared to 16.8 in PRSD and 20.1 in the Province.
Significant increases over Prairie Rose and provincial results were also seen in Math 9 for New Brigden, Schuler and Warren Peers students taking the class by video conference and Social 9 students in New Brigden and Schuler.
Superintendent Doug Nicholls pointed out the division is lucky to have a few teachers who are skilled at teaching using the technology.
“When you see the interaction and building relationships ... it takes a special connection and skill set to do that,” he added.
Prairie Rose officials are looking at formalizing partnerships with other school divisions in the province to offer them courses through video conferencing.
Prairie Land and Livingstone Range school divisions are just two involved in discussions at this time.
“We have similarities with these two divisions because we have small schools and diverse populations,” said Nicholls.
This year in PRSD there are 15 courses taking place through video conference involving about 228 students.
Nicholls added this is the reality in rural, small school divisions where it takes some creativity to offer students the best education possible.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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