Action-at-a-Distance, an ITEST Strategies proposal, is partnering with the National Center for Research on Rural Education and a small selection of the Educational Service Units (ESUs), which cover the rural state of Nebraska. The project builds upon the success of UNL’s Cosmic Ray Observatory Project (CROP), the PI’s initiative to engage high schools in a study of cosmic ray air showers. CROP’s past success in cultivating excitement and maintaining the interest of teachers through a collaboration network that relied on workshops, phone conferences, and email offers a strong model for the involvement of remote schools.
This project aims to serve the needs of students in the most remote and isolated school districts of Nebraska, and provide the means and incentives for the professional development of the many instructors who are teaching out of their field.
The strategy is to exploit the connectivity offered to rural schools through their ESU and explore a combination of video-conferencing; web-postings of video-streamed demonstrations and instructions; a series of summer workshops and conferences hosted through the ESU centers; and internet social networking and chat sessions. A cluster of interested schools within ESU 10 will serve as our test; eventually activities and resources will be replicated in ESU 1.
These efforts, if successful, will help formulate plans for a scale-up effort to all 18 ESUs. Our goal is to lay the groundwork of a statewide network of teachers, schools and ESU administrators, together with tested infrastructure and methods of long distance communication and engagement that will provide a working model to make future outreach efforts accessible to even the most remote areas of Nebraska.