BHS Sees Future

Suburban Trends
October 1994
The popular pitch phrase of the past, "I want my MTV," is sure to be replaced with "I want my ITV (Interactie Television)" at Butler High School (BHS).

When BHS opened its doors this September, it became one of the few high schools in New Jersey to offer courses via ITV. Fiber optics makes it possible for BHS to bring courses taught in other schools to the ITV studio at the high school.

The cutting-edge technology offers tremendous educational possibilities for a school district. It enables students to take courses otherwise not offered because of low enrollment projections.

Cameras allow teachers in another district to see and communicate with students at BHS, and for students to communicate with the teachers. A monitor is assigned to the classroom as an extra duty period like cafeteria or study. Work sheets, tests, and homework, are faxed back and forth.

BHS Principal Manuel Ferreira said, "Students love it. I see enrollment going up next year. At first, students were apprehensive. They didn't know how to react to such a remote situation. Now, they love it."

"Currently, about a dozen students are involved in teh local ITV program. BHS is receiving an advanced placement European History course from Parsippany Hills High School and a Probability and Statistics course from Morris County Community College. The local district is providing Central Valley Middle School in Long Valley with an Algebra II class, which is taught by Scott Copperman. To make it a more personal experience, ITV teachers have visited BHS.

The district is taking full advantage of the information superhighway and is connected to the internet and NJ Link. It will also play host to diferent conferences, putting BHS in the educational spotlight.

Ferreira said the district decided to start off small, but will expand programming and offer more courses next year via ITV. Ideally it will become an educational tool for the entire community. One of hte district's goals is to offer local adults courses from Morris County Community college. The second semester of 1995 has been targeted as the starting date for college broadcasts, he said.

Tracy Christiano, a senior enrolled in the ITV Probability and Statistics course, said "It's really interesting and so technologically advanced. It has been a great experience adn gives us a look at what we have to look forward too in the future. I feel lucky. I'm getting a taste of what college is like. The course is taught by a professor and it's not like anything else I have taken," she said.

At first the experience seemed odd because the teacher was not in the classroom. It didn't take long for students to adjust to that, she said.

"It's going excellently. It's so beneficial. I'm getting to take a course I wouldn't have had the opportunity to take at BHS - a course I needed for colleg," said Tracy.

Scott Copperman, who teaches the ITV algebra course, agrees with Tracy's assessment. He said the camera aspect of ITV has kept him very aware of any visual presentations he makes.

"Copperman said, "It's going very well. It's a different environment. It takes more of an effort to keep focus. It has make me more aware of my teaching quirks and make me more flexible - more able to adapt to different situations. The first couple of days, I think we were blown away by the whole thing, but now I don't ever realize that I'm switching camera angles. It just runs smoothly."

Butler High School math teacher Scott Copperman is pictured below teaching Algebra II, not only to Butler students, but also to a student at the Central Valley Middle School in Long Valey. Interactive Television may seem a bit Orwellian, but this cutting-edge technology allows students to take courses in other school districts.

Deborah Walsh
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