HISD to link virtual learning to classroom with on the job video conferences

Career professionals will soon be able to join an HISD class virtually to speak to students live on camera about their industry, giving students an up-close and personal look at numerous professions.

As part of a new HISD Linked Learning initiative to combine core academics with career-based knowledge, hundreds of career and technical education teachers participated in a two-hour training this week to learn how to use Nepris.com, a web-based platform that easily connects teachers and students with industry experts for video conferences. Although teachers often organize face-to-face student visits with professionals, this tool will allow teachers and students to participate in these sessions without having to leave the classroom. 

“I’m excited about this platform because it will allow our students to connect with industry experts in real time and not only learn about the field but also learn about current challenges related to their various industries,” said Linked Learning Assistant Superintendent Adam Stephens. “Nepris is going to allow our teachers to make their teaching more relevant to future careers for our students than ever before.”

Teachers learned how to use the platform by searching for professionals based on various curriculum topics, including architecture, engineering, and science. Afterward, teachers can request a professional to schedule a time to virtually connect with their classroom for an interactive discussion with students.

“This is a unique way to bring another angle of technology to the classroom, and students will be excited to participate in something so innovative,” said Josephine Castillo, a culinary arts teacher at Harper Alternative School.

Teachers can also access video sessions that have already been recorded between professionals and classrooms around the country. Upon completing the training, teachers will have immediate access to the program and can start using it in their classroom.

“All of my students are studying how to become something, and this tool will allow them to see and talk directly with someone who’s in a profession they want to be in,” said Jeremy Huckeba, who teaches architecture, construction technology, and interior design at Booker T. Washington High School. “These videos will be helpful to students still learning what these professions mean, too.”

HISD’s Linked Learning approach launched this school year in a cohort of eight high schools and their feeder pattern middle and elementary schools – a total of 40 campuses. The district will continue to implement the Linked Learning approach in additional cohorts over the next four years as part of a $30 million federal Race to the Top grant awarded to HISD in 2013.