Georgia's Largest District Expands External Education Capabilities
Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Georgia, has implemented voice over IP (VoIP) and conferencing and collaborative technologies to expand its instructional reach to remote and otherwise homebound students.
GCPS serves 157,600 students in 114 schools, including 600 to 700 students who require special accommodations to be remote-educated in their homes by the district. Using the communication technologies provided by Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent, teachers can reach these students with the full array of classroom experiences.
"Previously, our teachers would either travel to each homebound student to provide a few hours of daily instruction or use an audio bridge to conduct group lessons. Voice-only instruction lacks the graphics and visual aids that help keep young, inquisitive students engaged," said Rick Overton, director of telecommunications and network services, Information Management Division, Gwinnett County Public Schools. Using the special technologies, he said, will "help teachers provide a richer learning experience--they can use video clips for a history lesson, interactive graphing for science or white-board instruction for math."
In addition to the expanded methods to educate off-campus students, the district's new capabilities will help significantly reduce travel time and transportation costs for faculty and support staff involved in off-campus education.
Managing the GCPS program in planning stages and currently in its operation is Melbourne, FL-based Morse Communications. The company gathered requirements, customized and installed the VoIP equipment, managed service cutover and trained the school district staff. It is now providing full-time, on-site backup support for the school system as well as ongoing service, maintenance and consultation.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.