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Videoconferencing Saves Southeastern Schools Professional Development Costs

Videoconferencing is helping schools cut travel costs and save on professional development. In fact, one regional organization reported it's saving more than $100,000 on annual professional development costs alone thanks to Internet-based teleconferencing.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), an Atlanta-based nonprofit aimed at helping its 16 member states throughout the eastern and southeastern United States improve K-12 and higher education, said it has realized more than $110,000 in annual savings using the Web to advance teacher professional education. The group accomplished this primarily by bringing presenting expert lecturers to educators using integrated live videoconferencing software rather than paying for the ever-inflating travel expenses necessary for an in-person presentation.

"In our new project converting our Learning Center Leadership modules to online courses," explained Kristie Clements, director of module development for the SREB Learning Centered Leadership Program, "all of our development teams are meeting via Elluminate to share documents, URLs, and other resources to expedite the work of developing the online courses."

Several schools and districts, as well as professional organizations and boards of education, have also realized substantial savings from integrated videoconferencing software. Large districts, such as Broward County Public Schools in Florida, and Gwinnett County Public Schools and DeKalb County School System (DCSS) in Georgia, have found that bringing educators from remote locations together online leads to substantial volume discounts when they consider travel savings.

"Teachers get real-time demonstrations on using applications," said Kelli Wright, director of elementary instruction for DCSS. She also noted that some of the more sophisticated videoconferencing software allows for integration with other applications, so that remote users can interact not only with the presenter(s), but also hands on with the technology being taught.

About the Author

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.