Webcam helps Milford High student learn from home


The view Goike sees using the webcam

Dani Pasco, Staff Writer

In the modern age, advances in technology occur at an increasing speed. Most teens now have their own smart phones, iPods and laptops, and the internet is quickly becoming something of a necessity these days. Schools seem to be slowly catching up to these new scientific achievements, but if students have all the technology they need to learn from home, what is keeping them from learning when they’re absent from the classroom?

Junior Ben Goike was out of school sick and missed 14 school days this past month. Goike has an inflammatory bowel disease, called Crohn’s disease, which he has had for two and a half years, since October of 2010. He was sent to the hospital where he needed a doctor to administer medication to him every hour of the day.

Goike has had problems like this before, but on a much bigger scale. He missed the entire first semester of school for surgeries to help fight this disease, and because of that he will be taking five online classes to help him catch up. He will be taking the first semester of physics next year too.

Since Goike was so far behind, Lori Gleason – Goike’s physics teacher – with help from MHS Tech Support leader Julie Paraventi, set up a webcam on top of Gleason’s computer, showing Gleason as she teaches on the Smart board. From this webcam and a chat box on the Smart Board’s screen, Goike can be taught the lesson straight from his bed in the hospital. Although this was only used for the two days before Goike came back, this has spread the possibilities of student learning beyond just the classroom. Goike’s math teacher also used a webcam as well.

Goike said that the program worked great and he could hear and see the teacher perfectly. He was also in control of the mouse. Even though Goike would rather not go back to the hospital, he said he would use the webcam again if he had the choice. “It allowed for direct communication from me to the teacher that worked better than email,” Goike stated. Because of this new technology that we have at school, Goike was able to learn while still being absent from his class, which before now was impossible.

Goike said that this should be used more often to teach students. Many students get lost in their studies when they are gone for a length of time, and there is no good way to learn everything besides just collecting notes and worksheets. “If a student is unable to go to school,” Goike stated, “but still able to pay attention in class, then I believe that this is currently the best solution.”

Lori Gleason had her worries about using the webcam in working relation with the school’s network. “I thought it would crash the system, I was so nervous. Though all is well in technology land!” The webcam worked smoothly and did not crash the network.

Gleason agrees with Goike that webcams should be used more often to help students learn when they are unable to go to school. However, she has a few concerns. She does not know whether the webcam connection was an open connection or not, and she fears that anybody could join and disrupt her teaching in the classroom. Others who are not students could also possibly use the webcam connection, if it’s not secure, to spy on the class.

Another concern Gleason has is the amount of traffic this connection can handle. How much traffic is too much, and when could it possibly crash? She thinks that many more experiments should be conducted on this new technology being used in the classroom before we use it too much.

Gleason was also contemplating of other ways to use the webcam, but instead of only absent students, she could possibly teach other students a full class from anywhere in the state. Although, personally, she is against it. “The more space of interactivity increases, the experience and connection you have with the student decreases,” said Gleason. “And that’s not something that would be good for us.”

In order to create a good environment for students in a classroom, one mustn’t get rid of the experience of having a real teacher there, real friends, and, of course, real scientific labs.

How will this technology be used in the future? With more possibilities opening up, schools could potentially see different ways of teaching students, for better or for worse.