Rural school system leverages the federal E-Rate program to connect all K-12 schools and administration office
Gordon County School System, a rural district located north of Atlanta, has chosen Lifesize HD video conferencing systems to connect its nine K-12 schools and central administration office. Facing district-wide budget reductions that significantly reduced Gordon County’s ability to provide ongoing professional development for teachers, the integration of Lifesize systems has enabled the school system to perform remote staff development training sessions and department meetings. In the near future, Gordon County plans to implement video communications directly in the classroom to conduct classes across campuses and take virtual field trips.
“The value of the Lifesize HD video systems is two-fold: they’ve helped reduce the cost and administrative burden of travel and in-service teacher training, and they promise to help us become better teachers by keeping us connected,” said Dr. Bill McCown, superintendent, Gordon County School District. “The addition of the Lifesize video experience to the classroom improves teachers’ options to develop a rigorous and relevant curriculum, as well as build stronger relationships with their students. This is a significant enhancement to the ability of our schools to develop students who are critical thinkers that utilize teamwork as they prepare to contribute to and live in a global, technological society.”
Like many public school districts, funding cuts virtually eliminated Gordon County’s travel budget, hindering the ability of the district’s teachers to meet the State’s annual professional development requirements. Without the ability to send 700 teachers to specialized training conferences, or bring in education experts for monthly sessions, Lifesize video conferencing systems provided the means to help teachers obtain their required Professional Learning Units. Additionally, with some schools more than 40 miles apart, the Lifesize systems improved teachers’ ability to stay connected for internal and departmental staff meetings.
To procure its Lifesize systems, Gordon County utilized the federal E-Rate program, which provides eligible kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and libraries 20 percent to 90 percent discounts on approved telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections costs. Combined with Lifesize’s unbeatable price-performance, the E-Rate program allowed Gordon County to purchase twice the number of systems than otherwise possible.
Gordon County School System now has 19 Lifesize HD video systems, with two in each of its nine schools and one at the district’s central administration office. Each school has a stationary Lifesize Room unit and a cart-based Lifesize Team system that can be moved from classroom to classroom within the school. A 24-port Lifesize Multipoint system allows all of the district’s systems to join in a single call.
“The Lifesize systems are very easy to use and our teachers are very comfortable with the technology,” continued McCown. “Because they’re used so frequently, our Lifesize systems are paying for themselves. Every school system that has access to E-Rate funding should utilize it to get this technology into their schools.”
The next step is to integrate the Lifesize systems into distance learning programs that help students experience a broader sense of the world outside of the four walls of a classroom. Gordon County has begun to partner with other districts, universities and regional education centers to plan virtual field trips and arrange special lectures from university professors that will enhance the curriculum for students, as well as incorporate more technical and specialty-focused training for professional development sessions.
“Video conference technology isn’t just a business technology; K-12 schools can benefit immensely from the ability to connect teachers and students from multiple locations and create a broader, more diverse educational program,” said Craig Malloy, CEO, Lifesize Communications. “Gordon County School System is a great example of how reliable, intuitive, easy-to-use and cost-effective high definition video technology can promote a more engaging and effective learning environment.”
About Gordon County School System
Gordon County School System consists of two high schools, two middle schools, and five elementary schools located in the northwest corner of Georgia. The system serves approximately 7000 students and offers a wide range of course offerings supplemented with strong emphasis in technology and quality teaching. The goal of the school system is to challenge all students in a nurturing and caring environment. More information is available online at http://www.gcbe.org/.