Southeast Kansas Education Service Center - Greenbush

At a Glance

  • Obtained equality in educational opportunities
  • Ease of use, efficiency and flexibility
  • Advanced education opportunities

55,000 rural students now have the option to learn Mandarin Chinese through successful Kansas distance learning program

Successful video distance learning program equalizes education opportunities between urban and remote students throughout Kansas and surrounding states.

Great education should not be reserved only for those living in greater urban areas. Now, a unique program based in rural Kansas is using Polycom solutions to enhance the educational experience of more than 55,000 students, staff, administrators and lifelong learners in four states.

The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush has equipped 110 classrooms in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Ohio with Polycom RealPresence video solutions. The distance learning these Polycom solutions provide is unlocking innovative educational opportunities for many who might otherwise be denied them.

"Kansas is very rural and students in smaller communities do not have access to the same learning activities that are available to kids in the more affluent urban areas," says Lisa Blair, director of student learning at Greenbush. "We turned to the Polycom video collaboration solution to create a distance- learning program, enabling educational opportunities for students in these rural areas.

“Deploying RealPresence video systems in the classrooms and the RealPresence Platform in the network, school districts can now pool their resources and deliver innovative and enriching content to students. Budget cuts have left rural schools with very basic offerings, but through distance learning we're able to provide advanced and elective classes."

Kansas, like many states, has lost hundreds of teachers in the last few years due to budget cuts. Distance learning helps provide quality educational opportunities for students despite the loss in funds and services.

And Polycom is the video collaboration standard in the state of Kansas. Polycom-based distance-learning classes are offered daily at elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state. Greenbush offers a large number of elementary academic programs that help students learn and help schools meet rigorous standards in science, math, and social studies.

Staff and administrative meetings also take place on the Greenbush Interactive Distance Learning Network. School districts connected to the network have realized significant cost savings, as well, by offering teacher training and professional development over live video.

Carol Woolbright is past director of the Greenbush Network and current director of its Chinese Language Program.  She explains several factors influenced Greenbush’s decision to adopt Polycom as its standard. They included ease of use, and the efficiency and flexibility of the overall Polycom solution.

For example, the Polycom video systems integrate with a wide range of teaching tools including DVD players, overhead document cameras, multiple stereo audio sources, and computer and Internet-based content. The video content management capabilities of the Polycom RealPresence Platform also equip instructors to record and archive their lessons, which students can then access on demand for review or make-up purposes.

One of the most impactful classes made possible through this distance-learning initiative is Mandarin Chinese. The program started with 32 students in 2006, but now serves more than 1,100.

"Mandarin Chinese has been a very successful program," says Karen Duling, principal of Pray Woodman Elementary in Maize, Kansas. "Without Polycom distance-learning solutions, we would not be able to offer this class. Our test scores show that this isn't just a culture lesson. These children are actually acquiring a second language through distance learning."

Woolbright and the Chinese language team are now exploring how they might integrate tablet technology into Greenbush's distance-learning environment. The goal is to better teach Class 4 languages like Chinese and Arabic, whose alphabets are different from English. Woolbright sees tremendous potential for Polycom RealPresence Mobile video, which allows teachers and students to take distance-learning classes from anywhere, turning the entire world into a video and education hot spot.

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