New high school a virtual reality
A REVOLUTIONARY new high school will open on the Northern Rivers.
It is a ‘virtual’ school which will ‘float above’ five other secondary schools in the area, Lismore High School principal Peter Campbell said.
The Lismore Community of Secondary Schools will use video-conferencing technology to hook up students across five campuses, initially bringing them lessons in information processes and technology and engineering studies.
Students wanting to pursue these subjects will sit in a high-tech classroom to receive their education.
They will log on to computers in their ‘connected classrooms’, which will be equipped with a flat-screen television, microphones and an interactive white screen.
The teacher giving the lesson will be located at one of the five participating high schools – Kadina, Nimbin, Nimbin Central, Lismore and Richmond River – saving hugely on resources.
The teacher will also‘rotate’, delivering the lesson from different schools on different days, with that school’s students sitting in the lesson and meeting their virtual teacher face-to-face.
Another aspect of the new ‘community school’ will be the transporting of students to one of the participating schools for classes in Aboriginal studies, drama, textiles and design.
The program launches on Monday at Richmond River High School, where the 45 interested students will gather to be introduced to their new way of learning.
Mr Campbell said the system had several distinct branches.
“There is a curriculum arm, a wellbeing arm and a trade training capacity,” he said.
“And in the future we are hoping to have a middle school component, straddling junior and high schools.”
He said the concept was limited only by the number of staff who could take part and how a subject could be fitted on the timetable.
Programming the scheme had been a miracle of planning and involved coordinating a common timetable, period lengths, curriculum and bell times, Mr Campbell said.
It had been exhilarating to witness the extent of the cooperation between the schools, he said.
Kadina High’s new principal, Ian Davies, said a virtual school was working successfully in similar circumstances in Orange, and was the way of the future.
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