Glenville-Emmons gets ‘Jetsons’ tech

Published 2:15 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Glenville-Emmons schools have gotten some innovative technology tools to help their students learn.

Superintendent Mark Roubinek said the school district received two different grants that allowed them to purchase new equipment and train the staff on the new equipment. The equipment allows them to teleconference, kind of like on the “Jetsons” cartoon.

“The RUS grant is through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for rural area schools to update their technology,” Roubinek said.

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The Rural Utility Service grant allowed the school district to purchase a video conferencing system. The Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2) grant from the Minnesota Department of Education allowed them to purchase two more video conferencing systems, four Smart Boards and money to train staff on the new equipment. The E2T2 grant amount was $136,258. Just one video conferencing system costs about $38,000, and the school district was able to purchase three systems using the two grants. Roubinek has lots of plans for using the systems in the classrooms.

“We’re hoping to do virtual field trips,” Roubinek said.

He said he thinks field trips are good learning opportunities, and right now the schools can only go to local places. He would like to be able to video conference with museums and other schools around the United States and around the world.

“It helps with costs, but it’s also about educational opportunities,” Roubinek said.

He gave the example of elementary students having pen pals in another country and being able to videoconference with them, or biology students could watch a surgical procedure after finishing dissection labs to see the practical uses of science.

“We’re hoping to use it in all subjects,” Roubinek said. “It will go along with what they learn in class.”

There are many ways to use the video teleconferencing systems. The school can call any site that has the same system to see and talk to people at that site. They can also connect computers to the screen to view PowerPoint presentations, websites or videos. Roubinek hopes that the new technology will help the students.

“We’re trying to improve test scores and the school’s performance,” Roubinek said.

He said the school district plans to continue with the local field trips to farms and museums in Minnesota, but the new video teleconferencing systems will help students see and experience more than would have been possible without them.

“It’s an opportunity to widen the window of learning for our students,” Roubinek said.