The primary mission at Research Triangle High School is not much different than any other high school in America – teach the students we have under our roof on a daily basis, get them excited about learning, and help them grow into well-rounded, educated young adults.
But that’s not all we do. According to our charter, another incredibly important facet of our mission is to “increase access to globally competitive STEM education for students and teachers across North Carolina.” Furthermore, our aim is to “[d]evelop the outreach component of the school in online and virtual tools and methods and ensure the establishment and growth of open source availability of those tools.”
Since we’re on the cutting edge with regards to the Flipped Classroom model, we’re a laboratory school of sorts. Furthermore, since our videos are all on YouTube, anyone can use them – if they happen across them, students struggling in their classes can use our videos for additional explanation of a topic, or teachers can use them to supplement something they did in class. I didn’t know if that was actually happening until last night.
One of the things I do on a semi-regular basis is check the number of views on the videos we make – partly out of pure curiosity, but mainly so I can jump down the kids’ throats for not doing enough studying and review of the content. When I clicked on our nine-minute video covering the era of absolute monarchy in France, one comment under the video caught my attention:
This helped for my history test. Thanks alot [sic].
I re-read the comment, probably with one eyebrow raised. That’s weird, I thought to myself. I’m not giving a test on this stuff until tomorrow. I clicked on the account holder’s name to figure out who this was, and the first thing I saw was the person’s location.
I had a good friend from college who taught high school students in Africa. But he had to join the Peace Corps and live in Tanzania for two years to do it. I taught someone in Africa and I didn’t leave Durham! I emailed the administration to share with them this funny little tidbit; our managing director sent it along to the entire board, several of whom responded with excitement at us having some proof of reaching outside our school community. My boss Eric had the best response, though – “L’mpeg c’est moi.”
While this is just anecdotal evidence of having accomplished our mission, it actually makes me excited about making these materials that anyone can use. It comes with a little bit of pressure, though – if these videos can be seen the world over, I better not screw any content up!
Of course, I can also leverage this with the classes. If I can get someone in AFRICA to watch my videos, what’s the matter with you?!
And in the event you were curious, here’s the video in question. Like all our videos the production quality is quite low, but it does the job.