As Grant Taylor watched his daughter struggle with online learning — and the feeling of being disconnected from her peers — the audio-visual field support expert for Canyons’ Information Technology Department knew there must be a better way.
He had an idea: What if there was a way to route a Zoom call through the classroom’s sound system so students could actively participate in live lectures and discussions from home? He purchased a few items, reached out to his daughter’s teacher, who works for a neighboring school district, and offered to install the equipment to see if his solution would help the teacher include online students in a real-time class. The answer was yes.
“It took off immediately,” Taylor said. “All of the kids who were home got to remote in and it helped build morale with my daughter, she got to feel included again.”
Since that initial lightbulb moment, Taylor’s idea is paving the way for Canyons’ teachers to receive live-streaming kits that facilitate the use of video in the classroom with clear audio and the ability to interact with students who might not be physically present. Each kit costs about $200. Thanks to donations from throughout the community — including an employee Trot 4 Tech fundraiser and two large donations from the Township of White City and City of Draper — a first wave of teachers have already received the new technology, with more on the way.
“We are so appreciative that our community has stepped in to help our teachers and students where they need it most,” said Denise Haycock, Development Officer for the Canyons Education Foundation. “Technology has been a lifeline for so many students this year, their primary connection to school and the caring adults who work there.”
Shifting to a new technology requires some transition, but Jordan High teacher Carrie Earl says the learning curve is worth it. Earl, who teaches art, has 168 in-person students, 106 online students through Jordan High, and 600 students through Canyons Virtual High School — not to mention a rotating raft of students coming in and out of quarantine. Before she received the new equipment, Earl would teach her in-person classes, then later, record separate videos of her teaching the same concepts for her online students. The process was time consuming and frustrating, she said.
“This equipment has changed everything for me,” Earl said. “Now I literally can teach as though the kids were here. It really allows you to not have to create a new curriculum because you can continue teaching what you were teaching before.”
With the new equipment, Earl says she can streamline her recording process and teach students new online classes, such as calligraphy, that she couldn’t previously. Those are the kids of opportunities Taylor hoped his solution could achieve.
“It feels great to be able to give the teachers any solutions that help enhance their teaching experience,” Taylor said. “I get really excited when I can make analog digital and this was one way to bridge that.”