Technology-Infrastructure: PORTS Project

Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students
Distance Learning With California State Parks

PORTS is a collaborative effort between k-12 public education and California State Parks. By using the California High Speed Network, a high speed network connecting California’s public schools, PORTS is able to deliver live presentations to classrooms from parks throughout the state. PORTS also provides fully developed units of study that furnish support, structure, preparation, and follow-up for these live presentations.

SCCOE Director, Technology-Infrastructure, David Barnett was instrumental in connecting the PORTS facility at Seacliff State Beach to the Digital California Project through the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. The Seacliff facility is the first regional distance learning center in operation.

PORTS addresses the disparity in access to California State Parks and technology amongst California’s school children. By using the DCP, it bridges the geographic and economic divide that impedes many children from experiencing the values of California State Parks.

PORTS consists of numerous units of study that have been developed by teams of teachers and park employees. These units of study are accessed by schools through two integrated elements:

  • 1) “On-demand” multimedia materials concerning state parks and addressing academic content standards presented via the DCP. These materials are available at all times to teachers and students via the PORTS web site. The materials include lesson plans, digital pictures, digital video, park maps and brochures, and much more.
  • 2) “Live Digital Video Lessons” using video conferencing through which students can interact with park employees, experience park activities, and augment their in-class lessons. Each unit of study contains at least one lesson using video conferencing with park employees.

PORTS proposes to have a series of regional distance learning centers from which PORTS programs can be produced, presented, and managed for the state parks in that region. Some of the video conferencing lessons will be presented from the centers using “green screen” technology, while others will be presented directly from the parks.