Spectrum Education Group Brings ThereNow Holographic Internet 2 Technology To Train Teachers In Utah
thereNow technology is embodied in three pieces of equipment that bring expert teacher-trainers into the classroom "virtually":
·The TelePresence Center supports personal, eye-to-eye interaction over a distance. People in widely separated locations c
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORTH LOGAN, Utah / PR FREE / May 06 2005 --
thereNow is a subsidiary of Spectrum Education Group, a diverse team of professionals with advanced degrees in Research and Evaluation Methodology, Psychology, Education, and Instructional Technology.|
Currently, thereNow technology is embodied in three pieces of equipment designed and built by Digital Video Enterprises, Incorporated (DVE) in Irvine, California: the TelePresence Center, the Virtual Teacher, and the Virtual Observer.
·The TelePresence Center supports personal, eye-to-eye interaction over a distance. People in widely separated locations can communicate naturally—as if sitting across a table in the same room. Every gesture, every expression, every nuance of interpersonal communication is shared.
·Using the Virtual Teacher, a presenter can address a distant audience as if from behind a podium. The audience sees the presenter, the presenter sees the audience. Both enjoy a rich, seamless communication experience.
·The Virtual Observer is a window into a distant location. Cameras in the unit automatically follow a person wearing a special homing microphone and can also allow a remote individual to scan the room manually. Images from the classroom are broadcast over an Internet pipeline in real time or burned to DVDs for later review.
But technology, however innovative and exciting, is not the focus at thereNow. Each thereNow device was designed from the ground up to support a specific type of human communication. For thereNow, success is defined by the degree to which the technology fades into the background, allowing natural, uninhibited interpersonal communication to take center stage. The resulting phenomenon is called “telepresence.”
Spectrum Education Group received targeted federal funding through Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Rob Bishop to develop thereNow. These Utah leaders saw thereNow’s unique ability to enable rich interpersonal communication over a distance as the solution to a nationwide problem in education: providing teachers with cost-effective professional development experiences that actually help them improve the way they teach.
Traditional teacher professional development takes the form of “drive-by” workshops. During these two- or three-day programs, expert presenters provide large groups of teachers with large blocks of information—usually outside of their classrooms in a lecture hall or auditorium. Too often, what teachers learn in these offsite workshops stays offsite, failing to make the leap from lecture hall to classroom. Research shows that teachers find such programs “uninspired, if not bordering on demeaning.” They are simply too brief, too concentrated, and too abstract to make a practical difference in the way that teachers teach.
Why, then, do schools continue to organize and pay for one-shot workshops? Because they have been the only cost-effective way of bringing outside experts into contact with teachers—until now.
Education research literature describes a far more effective model of professional development called “cognitive apprenticeship.” Ironically, it closely resembles historical “apprenticeship”—the way that candlemakers, silversmiths, and other artisans learned their craft in centuries past. A master models and explains effective practice for an apprentice, who then tries to emulate the master. As the apprentice works and learns, the master observes, providing corrective and directive feedback.
Before thereNow, the benefits of apprenticeship were beyond educator’s reach for financial and practical reasons. Master teachers—the “experts” who deliver today’s drive-by workshops—are few in number and scattered across the United States. The demands and expenses of travel between their homes and schools across the country make it necessary for them to visit individual schools infrequently, briskly, and impersonally.
On the other hand, apprenticeship is like all effective training and mentoring in that it is a gradual, intensely personal process. It demands frequent short, rich, and individual interactions between master and apprentice. The physical and financial demands of travel have made this model impractical at best—impossible in reality.
thereNow is the answer. Using thereNow technology, an expert who lives in Colorado could serve as a master for apprentice teachers in an elementary school in Utah in the morning, then follow up with teachers in Virginia, Maine, and Alabama in the afternoon—without leaving her desk. thereNow makes apprenticeship practical in education.
Over the next few months, Spectrum Education Group will subject thereNow to a course of intensive, academic research in partnership with Weber School District and other schools in Utah and across the nation. These experiments will assess the effectiveness and practicality of delivering apprenticeship-style professional development through thereNow technology. The equipment is not presently for sale.
VIDEO: A brief video showing a demonstration of thereNow technology can be found online:
Shawn Edmondson, M.S.