Archive 2008 - 2019

Do You Dare To Enter The Portal?

by Chris Cain

I must admit that I was a little leery about entering The Portal.  Perhaps too much Star Trek or 'The Matrix.'  Holliston Public Schools students and faculty eagerly entered The Portal all week long.

Lest you worry that our students are somewhere else in the universe, they are all safe here in Holliston - perhaps a little more worldly after their shared learning and singing with students from other countries and other parts of America.

The Portal is the brainchild of Amar Bakshi, a journalist, who envisioned a communication / learning network that enables dialogue among people who are geographically dispersed and yet singularly human.  Social Studios is the company that has built the network that Amar envisioned.  Andover Public Schools owns The Portal as part of their Global Students Program.  

How did The Portal get to Holliston?  Patrick Kelly (above), Assistant Principal at HHS, led the effort to bring this new technology to Holliston students.  Funding to rent The Portal for one week came from the Holliston Education Foundation (HEF) backed by a grant from Middlesex Savings Bank.  Courtney O'Regan, seen between Patrick and Town Administrator Jeff Ritter, was on hand representing the HEF.

Holliston students, faculty and administrators met their counterparts from Kenya, the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, Mexico, West Virginia, and Texas.

C.J. Morse is a Curator of The Portal.  His role is to set up the physical environment (inflatable) and techical equipment of The Portal.  His more important role is to find people - both wherever he is and across the globe at other Portal sites - and choose topics for discussion and mutual learning.  He shared that, "the technology is not the magic, people are the magic" of The Portal.  He also shared that he has never flown anywhere and only physically traveled as far as Ohio and yet he has visited countries that most of us will never see.

During an Public Open House, we got to visit The Portal.  Just by stepping inside we were immediately transported to Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.  We were chatting with folks and listening to folk music.  No need for translators as the universal language of The Portal is English.  The Mexico City Portal was actually a cargo container that is outfitted with the necessary technology.  Such ingenuity makes the proliferation of this powerful conversation tool possible.

And while the conversation was taking place in The Portal, HCAT was livestreaming the session for their viewers.  Seen here Bruce Gilfoy mans the board and ensures that the image is showing up properly on phone, tablet, and computer screens.  Talk about amplifying the impact of international dialogue!

What an amazing learning / communication tool for our students and faculty to experience.

Comments (1)

This is terrific, I hope it can take us to other parts of our country as well.

Henry Dellicker | 2019-03-25 05:10:36