Howe Public Schools uses video conferencing to create more opportunities for its students
Dr. Lance Ford and his wife, Carol Ann, live in the quaint town of Howe, OK, home to a dozen streets, 800 people, and zero stoplights. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in innovation, especially at Howe Public Schools.
Dr. and Mrs. Ford first met and fell in love while teaching together. Their shared passion for education and desire to walk alongside and push their students to their highest potential bonded them then and continues to bond them today. Now married for 26 years, Lance’s office and Carol Ann’s classroom share a door at Howe Schools. They even teach a music class together. But teaching at Howe is not Lance’s only job… he also works full time as a Cisco employee.
His journey to Cisco came from presenting on technologies in classrooms to writing a curriculum that trained teachers—the actual users of the technology—how to fully utilize the resources they had at their fingertips. In a single day, he can be on the phone with a school in Switzerland educating on the possibilities of collaboration technology, on a Webex Board, video conferencing with teachers in Hawaii, training them on how to use the technology, and between, walk into the room next door and use the technology to teach music theory to his students. Over the past five years, he has helped bring Cisco collaboration technology into the classrooms in Howe.
Bringing video conferencing into the classroom
Howe Co schools serve 650 students and in the past five years, have invested in Cisco technology, including Cisco Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, IP phones and Webex Boards. So, why have they done this? Ford states, “the goal is to give students opportunities to learn that would otherwise not be available to them.”
This looks like:
- Video conferencing with subject matter experts who give new and exciting lessons to students
- Working on collaborative projects, using Webex Teams to meet, discuss, and whiteboard out solutions together
- Virtual field trips: Howe, OK connected with people at the Great Barrier Reef and Columbus Zoo (trips the students would never have been able to take due to distance)
- Enrollment in college classes: High school students use Webex Meetings to video conference into classes at the local college (last year’s valedictorian graduated high school one class shy of an Associate’s degree).
It doesn’t stop there—they continue to look for creative ways to reach learners into the future. They hope to start using technology to offer professional learning opportunities as well.
Outside the classroom: Breaking communication barriers through team collaboration
It’s not just the teachers and students using this technology. It’s in the hands of the building principals, counselors, security officers, and maintenance. Outside of the classroom, the technology is being fully utilized to enhance communication between everyone in the community. Buses have routers for GPS positioning and access to Teams. The school always knows where the bus is, who is on the bus, and can even notify parents when buses are getting close. In addition, security officers can send emergency notifications to administration, enhancing the safety at the school. Technology has the ability to change the culture of a school and the way it does business.
But regardless of the vertical, every person and company has a chance to teach and to learn. That’s essentially the core of collaboration.
How will you choose to teach and learn today?
Dr. Lance Ford will be joining our webinar on May 30th, discussing the rise of collaboration tools and how to augment them for parent-teacher conferences and office hours for students. The focus will be on how teachers and administrators can transparently open lines of communication between the school and parents/students through collaboration technology. AND use the technology as a conduit to identify and overcome challenges so students have the best opportunity to learn inside the education environment. You won’t want to miss it. Register here.
For more information about Howe Public Schools, visit: https://www.howeschools.org
Apr 14, 2021 — Annemarie Brandsen