Desert Mountain High School students will be sharing podcasts with students in Chile later this year, thanks to a technology grant of nearly $10,000.
Linda Schallan, librarian at Scottsdale and Desert Mountain High School's Palomino Library, was one of eight teachers around the state to receive a Teacher and Technology grant earlier this week from the Qwest Foundation and the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance.
Schallan will work with Spanish teacher Suzette Korchmaros on the project. The two have facilitated an after-school student podcasting group, PodSquad, for about a year and a half.
They've become increasingly convinced that podcasts, which are like online radio broadcasts, are a powerful educational tool, especially for foreign language students whose classes center on communication, Schallan said.
"Our students will be competing in the global marketplace when they graduate," Schallan said. "It's a good idea to prepare them in how to communicate and how to compete with the rest of the world."
But since the PodSquad equipment was purchased through tax credit funds, it could be used only for extracurricular activities, Schallan said. The grant was a way of bringing those tools into the classroom.
The grant money will go toward buying seven Macbooks, two video cameras, headphones and recording equipment for Desert Mountain, as well as recording equipment, Web cameras and video cameras for the school in Chille Chile, where Korchmaros was a Fulbright exchange teacher for a semester, Schallan said.
As soon as the technology arrives, the Desert Mountain students will create Web videos instructing the Chilean students on how to use the technology, Schallan said. After that, they'll create podcasts for each other, talk online and eventually do joint research projects by communicating online.
Students will also create virtual field trips for each other, using the video cameras to document what their schools and towns are like, Schallan said.
"The ideas is to share cultural customs and traditions," Schallan said. "I'm sure our students are going to be interested in where these students live."