Online learning makes distance not so far away for Mattituck students

03/16/2011 8:00 AM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Tim Sigerson teaches math class both in person and virtually.

Can’t make that class because you’re traveling? Students in Tim Sigerson’s math class at Mattituck High School, who are also members of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), faced that challenge last week — and solved it with WebEx.

Similar to Skype, WebEx enabled four students attending the statewide DECA business-marketing competition in Rochester to receive a recorded lesson on their computers and follow up the next day with a 45-minute live online lesson, joining their 18 classmates in real time.

There were glitches because of poor connectivity in Rochester, according to Gerri Doherty, director of technology for the Mattituck-Cutchogue school district. She and Mr. Sigerson had tested the system earlier in the day and it had worked smoothly, but with more Internet traffic late in the morning, the connection cut out several times. Similar problems plagued the Oysterponds school board earlier this year when it used Skype to allow absent members to participate in meetings.

“It’ll be bumpy at first, but you learn as you go,” Ms. Doherty said. Working with Mr. Sigerson, whom she credits with a great job of integrating his computer lessons with the SmartBoard in the classroom, Ms. Doherty was able to arrange for the students in Rochester to see and interact with those in the classroom in Mattituck.

“If we don’t try it, we won’t ever find the kinks,” Mr. Sigerson said about experimenting with the online system.

It all started when student Rebecca Caracciolo realized the DECA trip would cause her to miss several classes and fall behind in complex algebra/trigonometry lessons.

“Could we Skype?” she asked Mr. Sigerson.

He liked the idea and turned to Ms. Doherty for assistance. They were able to prepare a lesson that would be available to the students online when they arrived in Rochester and a live classroom presentation in which they could join their fellow students on March 9. The students also have access on Mr. Sigerson’s website to the March 9 class in which they participated online for future review.

Other students who participated via WebEx were Katherine Connelly, Kaitlin Doorhy and Emily Fliss. Ms. Fliss was a finalist at the DECA competition with a sales demonstration (see related story).

It impressed both Mr. Sigerson and Ms. Doherty that the students wanted to keep up with their classmates.

“Today’s students are independent seekers of knowledge,” Ms. Doherty said.

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