As we all embark on this new SAFARI Montage blog experiment, I think there might be something to gain by reflection on how and why my district got to this point with SAFARI Montage. Blogging itself was not really widespread when many of us started with SAFARI Montage, reminding me of the modern educational warning “teaching children skills for jobs that don’t exist to answer problems we don’t have yet.” In many ways SAFARI Montage has been an answer to issues we did not know we had when first getting into the package.
Prior to joining SAFARI Montage I was a Training Coordinator at Garland ISD in Texas. In this capacity I was working closely on the selection and implementation of SAFARI Montage and SAFARI Montage Live! so I was very familiar with both products and how they would work to support teachers and instruction in our district. Here is just one example…
I login to SAFARI Montage and automatically begin searching for videos of a “shuttle launch.”
Bingo! Found one. Wait. Two minutes and 2 seconds? What happened to 3-2-1 blast off? I only need a snippet from mission control and the actual launch, something that will engage the students and get them excited about our unit on the history of space flight.
I’ll never forget the look of surprise on the principal’s face when he walked into the library to see what all the commotion was about. He knew that we were trying out SAFARI Montage Live! with his school to connect his 7th graders with Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. He also knew that we would have a second connection to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where heart surgeons would be taking questions from the students. He had been told that there would be a live open heart operation that day and that students would get to see it all. But as they say, “seeing is believing.” So, as he walked into the class and saw one of his students asking the surgeon a question about a procedure, it is safe to say that he was shocked when the surgeon on the screen momentarily looked up from the patient and answered him through his surgical mask. The principal looked at me and said, “I didn’t know our school could do this. So now we have a video conferencing lab?” To which I replied, “It’s even better than that. Video conferencing has left the lab!”
One thing that is for sure, the rapid change in technology shifts even the most subtle habits of human beings. Several weeks ago, a guest speaker using one of our school facilities expected that a videocassette player would be readily available for her presentation. A half hour later, the school principal found one locked in a closet, dusted it off, and assisted in setting up the equipment for the guest speaker. After the panic mode settled, the realities of how schools have dramatically shifted from managing video assets and clunky carts with equipment in order to make video content accessible in the classroom elicited laughter, as well as a sigh of relief. In only two years, video content distributed on videocassettes or DVDs have nearly disappeared from the radar in our school buildings here in Baltimore County Public Schools.