• by Bradley Scott, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2000 • Dr. Bradley Scott

The Intercultural Development Research Association’s (IDRA) South Central Collaborative for Equity (SCCE) has reached an important breakthrough in its technical assistance and training service delivery throughout the region. IDRA has begun to use video conference capability to deliver training and technical assistance to rural and remote areas of Oklahoma. The SCCE is the equity assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education to serve Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

In recent years, IDRA has amassed an impressive capacity to use video conferencing in several of its programs. Video conferencing is used to link students with students in the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program; colleges and universities in the ENLACE initiative; and educators, parents, and early childhood education advocates through the SCCE.

Specifically, the SCCE has been using video conferencing to deliver training during the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Early Childhood Educators Institute for more than four years. In collaboration with the Texas Education Agency and the education service center network throughout the state, the SCCE has provided training to parents and educators in 16 of the 20 service center regions in simultaneous broadcasts during which 14 to 16 regions have been involved in a single statewide training session on a given topic. These sessions have been highly popular.

It was because of the success of these statewide training events that the SCCE decided to use this technology to extend its service delivery capacity to small, rural and remote areas throughout the region. A wonderful and most timely opportunity was presented in Oklahoma.

Last year, the Woodward Public School system called upon the SCCE to provide technical assistance for the staff of the district who were neither trained nor certified to provide appropriate educational opportunities to a growing population of students who are limited-English-proficient (LEP). The central administrative staff recognized that special and focused training would be required.

The SCCE established a long-term training plan with the district in which a core team of teachers from each of the campuses would be trained in a series of sessions that would prepare them to train their colleagues on their respective campuses. These sessions would aid the staff in providing more appropriate support for the students in question.

The SCCE was approached about the possibility of making this training available to other districts using the video conferencing capability that existed in the Woodward school system area and was supported through the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s statewide network.

Guymon Public School in Oklahoma took advantage of the opportunity. The SCCE produced a needs assessment from the 14 educators who were involved in the session. As was anticipated, the session was very successful, and with the needs assessment, the stage was set for ongoing efforts to provide technical assistance and training through video conferencing.

This school year has opened with service delivery being provided directly to Guymon Public Schools using video conferencing with one addition. During the session that was held last year, representatives from Felt Public Schools also attended. They have similar needs and concerns as the Woodward and Guymon school systems. They made a special request for technical assistance. The district is small and remote. The expense of providing on-site sustained services would be prohibitively expensive. The perfect solution was to invite them to participate in the training being provided to the Guymon system through video conferencing. As of the publication of this article, plans are being made to bring them online for video conference technical assistance. One other remote district has expressed an interest in participating and will be included in the rural and remote service delivery effort that is underway.

Among the topics the participants will benefit from are:

  • The legal aspects of serving bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) students;
  • ESL teaching strategies for the classroom;
  • Working with LEP students in secondary content area classes;
  • The administrator’s roles and responsibilities in serving ESL and bilingual students; and
  • Using graphic organizers, cooperative learning and vocabulary builders with LEP students in content classes.

These sessions will occur for elementary and secondary school teachers at different times using the video conferencing capabilities available.

The SCCE is excited about the possibilities of this type of service delivery. It is not intended to replace the face-to-face, on-site assistance the SCCE provides. The on-site assistance becomes expensive given rising travel costs, rising requests from all parts of the region, and dwindling dollars to support service delivery. Video conferencing is intended to augment our capacity to serve all of our clients in more powerful ways while not depriving any district requesting such support because they are small, rural or remote.

Bradley Scott, M.A., is a senior education associate in the IDRA Division of Professional Development and the director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity. Comments and questions may be directed to him via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2000, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2000 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]