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Culinary Classes Via Zoom? Ulster BOCES School Districts Embrace Hands-on Hybrid Instruction With Zoom + Neat

Culinary Classes Via Zoom? Ulster BOCES School Districts Embrace Hands-on Hybrid Instruction With Zoom + Neat

In Ulster County, New York, the Ulster Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) oversees programs like career and technical education, professional development, and the integration of technology into schools in eight districts. When the coronavirus began spreading across the U.S. in early 2020, Ulster BOCES’ superintendent, Dr. Charles Khoury, and deputy superintendent, Dr. Jonah Schenker, knew their districts would need a strong technology solution to support remote and hybrid learning.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to build a school [online]?’ A place where students can communicate, collaborate, feel safe, and have deeper learning experiences?” Schenker said.

Ulster BOCES turned to Zoom to deliver education to students at home and in the classroom. It quickly became a foundational tool for communications across Ulster’s educational community, from district meetings to town halls for parents.

Seamless hybrid instruction with Zoom & Neat

When it became clear that schools would need longer-term plans for hybrid and online instruction, Ulster BOCES began looking for a more integrated, immersive tech solution using Zoom and Neat.

“We wanted a delivery model that would allow students to move seamlessly from in-person to online, and for a teacher to be able to go into their classroom from home,” Schenker said. 

They tested Neat Bars out in a few Ulster BOCES schools, and “it was a game-changer,” Schenker said. The Neat Bar solved some of the challenges teachers faced, like lugging laptops around and standing on a particular spot in the classroom to teach on camera. 

With Zoom and Neat, teachers could move around the room naturally and interact with students in person and online, using Zoom features for collaboration like Breakout Rooms, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and in-meeting chat.

Leveraging technology for hands-on learning

Ulster BOCES’ career and technical classes, which prepare students for the world of work through hands-on training, required a more creative approach to engage remote students. Using Neat, instructors could provide more immersive instruction over Zoom in the auto shop and culinary lab.

“In auto shops, we use the Neat Bar and a GoPro camera for going under cars so students at home can have the experience of being in the shop,” Schenker explained.

“Zoom and Neat have allowed the schools to maintain continuity of instruction in a predictable and stable manner, so education is as distraction-free as it can be,” Khoury said. “The combination of Zoom and the Neat Bar makes it seamless for the teacher.”

Here are a few additional ways Ulster BOCES schools use Zoom and Neat:

  • Staff meetings with more than 350 people
  • Parent town halls
  • Virtual visits from industry partners
  • Professional development for district teachers

“Regardless of what 2021 looks like, we plan to have Zoom and Neat as tools in our learning spaces going forward,” Schenker said. “Neat and Zoom have allowed Ulster BOCES to leverage instructional design for what we believe teaching and learning could and should be for the future.”

Read the case study from Neat, watch our webinar for more on Ulster BOCES’ experience bringing education online during COVID-19, and check out our blog to see how other schools and universities are using Zoom for Education.

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