I recently read a post by Kathy Schrock on her blog Kaffeeklatsch about President Obama's back to school speech and her middle school. "Today the entire middle school went to the auditorium to watch the live, streamed back-to-school speech given by President Obama. An interesting phenomenon occurred." The speech was projected onto a large screen that made everyone feel as if they were in the Philadelphia school the President was standing before. The students interacted as if they were there. Kathy was impressed at both the students and the set-up of creating this feeling.
I thought this post was interesting for many reasons. Firstly, in my own school experiences from elementary through high school, only once did we watch a live broadcast of anything (the morning of 9/11, and against our teacher's wishes one period). But this was not as a whole school, all together. It was out of an immediate need to know what was happening less than 100 miles from our school while teachers tried to continue teaching, out of ignorance of the events or in attempt to stay on schedule.
My school years saw many elections and world events and though we had televisions in the schools, no other major events were ever viewed live. Comparing my experiences to what Kathy's students had that days shows the amazing leaps technology and its incorporation into our schools has made in such a short time. Growing up, we were told it was important to learn about history, but none of us really could ever explain why. The students in Kathy's schools that day were living and experiencing history in the making. They were making a connection between their own lives and the rest of our nation. They were being exposed to the current concerns of the education world they are growing up in. They were a part of history.
I think Kathy's school did an excellent job of showing students that world/national events affect them and that they are molding our country's future while writing it's history. Students can see the connection between the White House and their own school. The projection of the live-streamed speech made it real to students. It wasn't a poorly acted re-enactment or a voiced over video like so many are used to in the classroom.
They also saw technology integrated into their personal lives as well as their education. Students today have such a great wealth of knowledge on technology, but far too often it is not involved into their school careers. They have the latest video games, cell phones, and electronic gadgets, but rarely get to use computers of any sort in schools. This often makes me feel saddened that these tools of everyone's future are not being used by our students, but then examples like this one from Kathy prove that there are schools out there making that effort, even if not every student has a laptop for school or even computers in their classrooms.
Kathy's original post can be found at: Interesting Virtual Experience