Here are a few names from the Pro Football Hall of Fame that even the most rabid NFL fan would have trouble recognizing. Do you know them?
Jake Ray. Jon Kendle. Jason Aikens.
It’s a trick question, of course. None of those guys were ever football stars. Rather, they are employees of the Hall of Fame. Jake works in the Youth and Education team, Jon is an archivist, and Jason is the Collections Curator.
They’re all examples of the other side of the sporting industry, living proof that you don’t have to be able to run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds or bench press 225 pounds to build a career in pro sports.
It’s a message that the Hall of Fame and its hard-working staff are currently trying to get across to young sports fans. The institution is currently offering a presentation on the Hall of Fame and its values to Middle School students, demonstrating a pathway from the classroom to a day-to-day life in sports. And it’s using video conferencing to make the connection. In a way, it’s a form of online career counseling, putting students in direct contact with people who are working in sports, even if they’re not doing sports.
The Hall of Fame’s Online Presentation
The Pro Football Hall of Fame offers its program to schools across the country. It presents the universal values that great NFL players display–like commitment, courage, integrity, and respect–as life lessons, values students can hold on to in their own careers, whether those careers are in sports or not. The presentations are commonly made in-person to students visiting the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on school field trips.
However, by embracing video conferencing, the Hall of Fame’s education team can host students remotely from anywhere in the world. The presentation covers the same ground an in-person visit would entail, and it still meets core educational standards. In fact, it has been repeatedly honored with a Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration Pinnacle Award.
All it takes is a Skype or other video chat connection, a large-screen display in the classroom, and a class of students attentive enough to listen to a multimedia message, and any student in the U.S.–or abroad–can benefit from the Hall of Fame’s unique perspective.
It’s not a first-of-its-kind program, but it does demonstrate how career counselors can benefit from video conferencing’s evolving presence within education.
The Digital Classroom
Schools across the country have begun replacing the big yellow bus with a webcam when it comes time to expose their students to the world beyond the classroom. VC Daily has previously reported on initiatives such as virtual field trips, guest lectures from scientists conducting research in the field, and video conferencing links between schools half a world apart.
All this virtual learning is possible thanks to the declining price of video conferencing–a good HD webcam, for instance, now costs less than $100–and the fact that 75% of U.S. students attend a school that has a high-speed broadband connection.
And, it’s easy to set up a video conferencing connection. Apps such as Skype are free to use, and establishing an account is straightforward. Linking a webcam to a PC or laptop has been refined down to a single cord, plug ‘n’ play mentality, and much of the zoom and focus has become automated. Once made, the connection has the potential to be as interactive and natural as an in-person conversation–without the hassle of having to bus 30 children across the state.
It also means that students get to make connections with the precise person best placed to teach them, no matter where either party is located.
Online Career Counseling for Students
Few schools in the U.S. are going to be located within a short bus ride of a major sporting institution like the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially those outside major cities. What the Hall of Fame’s video conferencing program has done is make their specific knowledge universally accessible. The program has the potential to let students hundreds of miles from Canton ask very specific questions, such as, “What do you need to study to become an NFL archivist?” Or, “How do I get to be the next Jerry Maguire and work as an agent?”
The Hall of Fame’s current program seems centered around broad statements about “staying committed to your goals” and the like, but it could be far more intimate. The people who work at the Hall of Fame sit in a rare nexus between the everyday and the celebrated, which is part of the appeal of working in professional sports. Video conferencing and online counseling can demystify these jobs and give kids a glimpse of the exciting opportunities that are possible even for those who won’t be the next Peyton Manning. It means that a new generation of students can map out a pathway to working alongside their sports heroes.