Video technology will connect Olentangy high school students to extra course offerings starting this year.

Video technology will connect Olentangy high school students to extra course offerings starting this year.

Two brand-new mobile video-conferencing carts will allow students to enroll in classes that have not been offered in the past.

The carts are equipped with cameras and projectors to connect students at one school to classrooms in another school, allowing them to become active participants in a course being taught miles away.

"This allows us to provide additional course offerings for students, even if they don't have high enrollment in that course at their school," said Superintendent Wade Lucas at a July 9 meeting of the school board.

It also will enable students to enroll in a course even if there is no teacher at their school with the right credentials to teach it.

At the July 9 meeting, the board approved the purchase of the two carts for $52,267.

The first course to be offered next year is computer science. It previously was not offered due to low student interest at each high school, but the combined interest at multiple schools was enough to warrant its addition.

The first two carts will be stationed at Orange and Liberty high schools.

Orange math teacher Vicki Williams will stream a live video feed of her classroom to Liberty so both groups can participate.

While students at Liberty watch the lecture, Williams will see video of the Orange classroom, so students with questions can raise their hands to get help.

Software also will enable the teacher to monitor the computer screens of students in the other building.

A staff member always will be physically present in the remote classrooms to monitor students, said Keith Pomeroy, the district's technology director.

Students at both schools enrolled in the initial computer science offering at the end of last school year.

Other remote-video course offerings will be available in years to come, including a more-advanced computer science course.

Courses could be offered with as few as six students at each of the three high schools enrolled, Pomeroy said.

Additional carts may be added at Olentangy High School and the district's middle schools in the future, depending on funding and student interest, Pomeroy said.

Teachers will be required to undergo training to get them acquainted with the new technology before they use it in the classroom.