LAUREL - ‘Back to School’ this year is a challenge both here in Montana and around country. One big question that many schools districts are dealing with is how to keep classes and students learning together, even when they are apart.
At Laurel High School on Monday morning, teachers got their first look at in-classroom software that will record their lessons live, for students learning remotely.
This new technology comes from Missoula-based “Total Education Solutions in Technology Incorporated” or T.E.S.T INC. They have been helping schools in and around Montana for over 20 years incorporate new technologies into their classrooms and this year tech in schools is more sought after than ever before.
“There is defiantly is a lot of demand," says T.E.S.T INC CEO Liz Cunningham. "A lot of schools are looking for different solutions and so, we are very busy right now educating and letting schools know what we have and then installing as we are rolling along.”
And what are they installing? Cameras and recording software. This technology was originally thought of to be a safe guard in the classroom in case of a medical emergency or dangerous situation. The cameras are only about the size of a smoke detector and what started out as a safety tool in the classroom is now turning into an effective education tool for students learning at home.
Teachers will wear a mic that will amplify their masked voice to students in the classroom and at home. Their lesson will be recorded on a live feed so that if a student at home can't be live for some reason, they can download that class for latter in the day.
Superintendent Linda Filpula says that this will save teachers time and make learning more efficient for pupils studying remotely.
“One of the challenges we had last spring was that teachers were kind of doing double duty, students weren't on a schedule, teachers were teaching way past the normal hours. This system allows a teacher to record their lesson,” she said.
While everyone wants to be back, learning together again in one place, right now for some, that is just not possible. This technology could be the next best thing as education enters uncharted waters due to the pandemic.
“I don’t see education going back to what it was. And so you really need to be looking forward. I think this is a great tool that provides flexibility for whatever situation we find ourselves in this year, but also moving forward. And I have every confidence in our teachers that they will take this tool and be innovative and creative.”
The first day for Laurel Public Schools is Aug. 20. Laurel High School should be mostly, if not completely ready tech wise for the start of the school year. The other buildings should be completing their installations in September and October. However, teachers can still utilize their chromebooks and phones to record lessons until their classroom is fully operational.
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