Distance learning aids Moriah students

PORT HENRY - It's a long way from Port Henry to...just about anywhere.

But that's not a problem for Moriah High School students. They have access to a distance learning program.

"It's a great experience for our kids," Principal Kathy Carr said. "They're exposed to subjects they could never take otherwise. They experience new teachers. They see how other schools operate. I love it."

Thanks to a grant, Moriah has a distance learning lab, complete with television screens, computers and a fax machine. Classes are taught in real time via the internet, allowing for total interaction between a students and students in multiple locations.

"It's kinda fun," Caleb Harvish, a Moriah student, said. "It's easy enough to follow along and understand everything. It's nice to take classes I normally couldn't."

Moriah is part of a 19-school consortium through the Albany BOCES. Schools both "host" - teach - and receive distance classes.

This year Moriah teachers are "hosting" advanced U.S. history, advanced political science, fourth-year Spanish, a science fiction class and SAT prep. History and political science are both college-level courses.

Moriah students are receiving sign language, music appreciation and meteorology.

"The classes are designed for upper-level kids, who don't have discipline problems, who want something more or different than what we can offer," Carr said.

Each year classes change.

Teachers teach as if they were in a traditional classroom and the students in remote buildings watch on large TVs. Cameras in the remote buildings allow students to ask questions and otherwise interact with the teachers and other students.

Homework assignments and tests are turned in via Email and fax.

Each classes is taped, so if a students is absent or needs to review the class is always available.

"The whole purpose of distance learning is to allow schools like Moriah, that are small, rural and limited by budget constraints to offer a variety of classes," Carr explained.

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