Now in its ninth year, international videoconferencing event Read Around the Planet involved nearly 2,000 classes worldwide. The Polycom Collaborations Around the Planet (CAPspace) educators' networking tool allowed more than 58,000 students from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Guatemala and Costa Rica to meet with other students, share their interests and exchange information about current classroom activities.
Sponsored by Polycom and administered by Two-Way Interactive Connections in Education (TWICE), CAPspace is a free tool that more than 6,000 educators from 26 countries use to find colleagues with similar curriculum needs who also have access to videoconferencing equipment. Through CAPspace, educators can register for events like Read Around the Planet, Polycom special events and TWICE sessions, or arrange to collaborate with other classes at any point throughout the year.
Elaine Shuck, global market director of primary and secondary schools at Polycom, commented: "CAPspace is a wonderful tool for teachers interested in enhancing the classroom experience through distance learning. It makes it simple for teachers to find colleagues with common curriculum interests, share ideas and then collaborate. Use of videoconferencing within schools is expanding from popular virtual field trips with great content providers like NASA and museums to include more direct collaboration between classrooms. Programmes like Read Around the Planet are a great way to engage students and expand the possibilities for classroom education."
In addition to CAPspace, Polycom offers a range of programmes to help educators get involved throughout the year and make the most of their videoconferencing systems. Additional programmes include: a searchable database containing nearly 250 video-enabled content providers and more than 2,100 active programmes; an assistance programme to help new users arrange virtual field trips; free special events; and a grant assistance and E-rate information programme to help schools find funding for new equipment.
Considering the broader education sector, Polycom's area VP UK and Ireland, Aaron Payne, told IE: "The use of videoconferencing within schools is gaining a strong momentum, from primary schools through to higher education. Virtual field trips to previously unreachable locations and the creation of virtual classrooms allow students to get the best education possible by [enabling] pupils and teachers alike to share experiences and best practice with each other from across the world."