Kathryn in Katherine – School of the Air


Tourists observing the IDL session.

During our travels we took a tour of the ‘world’s largest classroom’ – at Katherine School of the Air. One thing led to another, and on our return trip, I was booked for two sessions in the Interactive Distant Learning (IDL) room at KSA. Yay!

Now – I teach… and I blog… and I’ve partipated in online chats with class groups… and talked on telephones… and given author talks. I’ve even controlled video cameras (though not with a remote – and usually just one at a time) But I have never tried to roll all those actions into one 45-minute session – and make sense at the same time!!

Librarian Ruth did the tricky stuff!

Librarian Ruth did the tricky stuff!

But that’s what I was working with in the IDL studio at KSA. And thankfully, I wasn’t doing it single-handedly. For my session I was ably assisted (I talked and she did/oversaw everything else) by KSA Librarian Ruth O’Connell. Without Ruth, I’d have been scrambled eggs. (May I just point out that KSA teachers do this juggle on a regular basis – and do it very well. I am in awe of them.)

The IDL studio is set up for interactive learning, which is a bit of a combination between a video conference (one way) a chat room and traditional radio-telephone communication.

A glimpse of the technology at work.

A glimpse of the technology at work.

The ‘teacher’ (author) is videoed and broadcast live-to-air – with the choice of three different camera angles – and zoom too. Children interact by typing their questions/comments in a chat style format, which shows up on the bottom of the everyone’s computer screen – teacher’s included. The teacher can also open the lines for two students at a time to call through with a comment or question, which can then be heard by both teacher and students.

The sessions were a lot of fun – and it was a wonderful way to experience this completely different learning environment. But I wished we had longer. There was so many questions I didn’t get to answer – and I’d have loved to chat more with these children, scattered across the Northern Territory in their various isolated situations.

I would have loved to hear their stories!



  1. Trudie – School of the Air aint nothing like I’d imagined. I was very impressed!

    I’m laughing, Kath. You obviously don’t know how long it took Dee and I to get that big screen thing happening at the CYA conference – but we did it!


  2. Hello,

    I am a french redactor doing an article about children doing school of the air.
    I saw you had good pictures about it on your website.
    Would you allow me to have them to put in my article ?
    Thank you.
    Frédérique Meunier


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