A music teacher on medical leave from a school in San Antonio's North East Independent School District recently participated in classroom activities in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
With a major choir competition looming, the teacher wanted to be involved in his students' final rehearsals – and they wanted the reassurance his presence would provide. Thanks to the school's wireless LAN infrastructure, they were able to connect as a class via Skype.
Wireless proponents have been talking up this kind of advanced educational application for years. Now it's a reality.
For North East ISD, a district with 66,000 students and 9,000 employees, wireless connectivity is in high demand. Many of its high schools have an average of 150 wireless access points, all supplied by Motorola. The district even provides shared notebooks and other portable devices that students can use to connect wirelessly while on school grounds.
One of the district's overarching goals is to use wireless to give teachers and students both flexibility and mobility. “Teachers don't have to stay in the classroom to teach,” says Andrea Tondre, executive director of management information services. “If they want to teach class from some other location, they can.”
District officials say students also are riding this technology wave, using Web 2.0 technology, blogging and accessing online content to enhance their education.