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Friday, October 6 • 3:15pm - 3:45pm
Tide Pools and Technology: Virtual Learning in State Parks

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Francesca Henderson, park ranger at Crystal Cove state park in Laguna Beach, California, has been teaching Castlebay Lane Charter Elementary's kindergarten class about the park’s natural wonders for the past few weeks. But the students are more than 80 miles away nestled in their classroom in Porter Ranch. Thanks to new technology, Henderson is able to interact with these students remotely, providing on-site demos while answering questions in real-time. This school year, Henderson will engage over 7,000 students most of which are California communities unable to make an educational field trip to the beach.

Over a decade ago California State Parks established a distance learning program called PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Schools). Using video conferencing technology and high speed data connections, PORTS enables park rangers to interact with kids in real time, taking them on virtual field trips in 10 California State Parks. Units of study include topics such as kelp forests, redwood ecology, monarch butterfly migration and historical subjects like the Gold Rush.

PORTS is constantly looking for ways to employ technology to enhance learning experiences and to provide engaging experience for students and recently partnered with Belkin to help with hardware and software solutions that make real-time communication easier and more fun.

Belkin’s Tablet Stage is an adjustable platform transforming any tablet into an interactive presentation tool. The Tablet Stage has been added to indoor studios and remote ranger vehicles like the EduGator, which functions as a mobile studio. With this enhanced functionality, park rangers are now able to use the iPad as a document camera and video presentation system to better showcase the park’s natural, cultural, and historical resources. 

By also installing the Tablet Stage in the classroom, teachers have the ability to customize the view for their students and park rangers are able to see the entire classroom and speak directly with students who can ask questions and share their experience with park staff. The accompanying Stage App lets rangers annotate over live video and draw on the screen, enabling a truly interactive learning experience.

The new features have expanded the quality and reach of the customized online learning solutions. This school year, the program will serve 100 school districts statewide and reach more than 50,000 students. During this session, Brittany Lollier and Brad Krey will share insights from the program and will incorporate an actual demo with a park ranger so attendees can experience firsthand the power of these virtual field trips.

avatar for Brittany Lollier

Brittany Lollier

Marketing Manager, Belkin International Business and Education Division
Brittany Lollier is a marketing manager at Belkin and is responsible at the global level for strategically promoting the Belkin brand. Using meticulous research and the voices of customers to devise global marketing strategies, she oversees the marketing planning, budget and execution... Read More →

Friday October 6, 2017 3:15pm - 3:45pm PDT
Emerald Bay C