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Tennessee County High Schools Introduce Distance Learning Elements to Education

Once upon a time, high schools were only brought together in a competitive spirit -- linked only by the passing, emotionally-charged tangents of field days and football games. Not so, these days, thanks to the growing power of the digital age. In Tennessee, several school districts are bringing their high schools online for a unique experience that all of their students can (quite literally) share.

According to the Greeneville Sun, the county's schools are getting ready for the requirements of education online. "The Greeneville Board of Education," it says, "voted in August to spend $181,744 to expand the virtual distance-learning program of the city school cystem [sic]." For Greeneville that money means virtual classrooms installed in all six schools, plus an expansion for Greeneville High School, which already had a virtual classroom as the first of the county's schools to jump on the digital bandwagon.

Involved in each virtual classroom is sophisticated two-way A/V technology, meant to bring classrooms together as one. This includes a sensitive microphone and speaker system for clarity and understanding between classrooms, as well as a high-tech document camera which "allows [a teacher] to display a variety of educational materials on video monitors seen by the students in both schools." Through this revolution in instructional technology, students from schools miles away can work together on projects and interact almost as if they were in the same physical classroom, effectively sharing experiences and broadening their horizons from their desks.

It's something students are taking a positive interest in. Students described the program to Greeneville Sun reporters as "pretty neat," "pretty cool," and "really fun" -- about as glowing a review as one can get out of your average teenager, when it comes to something classroom-related. One student enjoyed interacting with other schools and hoped to meet her virtual classmates in real life, and another said that he would recommend classes with distance learning elements to his friends. If this project is a success, there will likely be even more virtual classes in the works for that student to recommend.

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