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It's a Small World After All

How a school library videoconferencing system transports students across the planet for face-to-face meetings.

September 2006

When an eighth-grade health class at Scarsdale Middle School in New York wanted to learn about the hardships of Africans struggling with the AIDS crisis, the students didn’t talk about them but rather to them—via a live, multipoint videoconference with their peers halfway around the world.

The interactive videoconference was just one of about 50 the library expects to facilitate this year, including virtual field trips to museums and the zoo, participation in a U.N. student summit on human rights, a visit with students in Spain to practice foreign-language skills, a math program with staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a lecture by a geneticist.

Although surveys to assess the impact on learning are still in the works, the anecdotal evidence from teachers is very positive, school librarian Sharon Waskow says. “This is not for fun and games,” Waskow adds. “It extends what teachers do in the classroom. It’s all connected to the curriculum.”

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