Frequently Asked Questions

What is PORTS?

PORTS stands for Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students. PORTS is an award-winning distance learning program that has served K-12 teachers, students, and education partners with live, interactive video-conference presentations from our California State Parks for more than 15 years. Visit our About page to learn more.

How much do PORTS Programs cost?

All PORTS Programs and related educational resources are offered by California State Parks for K-12 students are FREE. Click here to learn more about Parks California, one of our top supporters!

When is spring 2024 registration?

California teacher registration begins on January 8th at 3:30 pm.

Out-of-state teacher registration begins on January 11th at 3:30 pm. 

Why do California teachers get to book first?

As a California state agency, it is our mission to provide access to California students. Allowing California teachers the opportunity to book first is our way of meeting that goal. Out-of-state teachers don’t have any fear we still want to connect with you! No matter where you are tuning in from there are always plenty of digital opportunities available. Check out our PORTScast calendar for new programs offered every week!

Why can't I register for the whole school year?

PORTS splits our school year into two semesters, fall and spring. This is to give teachers two opportunities to snag their first-choice programs, instead of just one. This also allows for presenters to more easily modify their schedules and attend professional trainings, and it minimizes the number of cancellations throughout the year. 

What's the difference between a PORTS On-Demand Program and a PORTScast?

PORTS On-Demand Programs are designed for teachers and students in their virtual and in-person classrooms. These are typically facilitated over Zoom as meetings, are not recorded, and allow students and teachers to engage directly with an California State Parks interpreter in the field! There is a minimum requirement of 10 students to book a PORTS On-Demand Program.

PORTScasts are offered to any and every student and classroom no matter where they are. These are offered in a secure Zoom webinar format and are often recorded for future use. Student privacy is ensured and engagement is more limited that in our PORTS On-Demand Programs. Any size group can register to attend a PORTScast.

When I select the PORTS On-Demand Program I want to schedule, it doesn't show the date I want to register for.

Click on the date listed after following the registration link in our calendar. Scroll down to the program you want to attend. Complete the registration. Please note: If your chosen date is not available, it has reached its daily program capacity.

How do I know my PORTS On-Demand Program is confirmed?

As soon as you submit your request on our website, your program is confirmed! You should receive an automated email from scheduling@acuityscheduling.com that confirms your appointment and provides the Zoom link you will need to join your program. If you do not see it in your inbox, check your junk mail folder. You no longer need to email the presenter of the program in order to confirm your appointment thanks to our Acuity scheduling system. Before you connect with your PORTS presenter, visit their dedicated PORTS Program page for supporting educational resources. For more information on connecting read below.

If I'm a teacher, can I sign up for a PORTScast?

Absolutely! We’d love to have you and your students join us. If you are all in the classroom together, you can register as the teacher and share your screen. Please note, if your classroom is remote, each student will have to register independently for the program. You can share the registration link by copying and pasting it from the PORTScasts calendar. Alternatively, your students can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the PORTScasts page.

  2. Scroll down to the calendar.

  3. Click on the program your teacher has selected.

  4. Click the Zoom registration link on the calendar listing.

  5. Register for the webinar event on the Zoom website.

  6. You’ll receive a confirmation email with a unique link to join the event.

  7. If you don’t receive the automated email, check your junk mail folder.

  8. When it’s time to join the program, click the link in your email to join the PORTScast!

Can I just share out the link to the PORTScast or do all of my students need to register?

If you are teaching remotely, it is best practice for all students to register for the PORTS Home Learning Program independently. This reserves their space in the Zoom webinar. To share the registration link please copy and paste it from the PORTS Home Learning Programs Calendar. If you are all in the same classroom and projecting your screen for the whole room, it is unnecessary for students to register themselves. If you would prefer a more interactive experience for your group of 10 or more students, please schedule a PORTS On-Demand Program.

If I'm a parent, can I sign up for PORTS On-Demand Programs?

Unfortunately, due to demand, we require a 10 student minimum in order to book PORTS On-Demand Programs. For homeschool families, you are welcome to book a program with other families if you meet the minimum required number of students.

How do I share a PORTS On-Demand Program with my students?

When you schedule your PORTS On-Demand Program you will receive an automated email from scheduling@acuityscheduling.com. This provides you with a Zoom link and a meeting ID. Follow the link from your confirmation email to find your Zoom information. You can share this info with your students via email, Google classroom, or whatever learning management system you choose.

PLEASE NOTE: Zoom does not have the ability to allow an individual to participate in two Zoom meetings at once. Therefore, it isn’t possible to share your screen with your students while in one Zoom meeting and simultaneously join the auto-created link for your PORTS On-Demand Program.

If needed, we can connect directly with you in your class’ Zoom room or preferred video-conferencing interface. PLEASE NOTE: When registering for your program, please include your preferred video-conferencing information in the “additional notes” section or contact your PORTS presenter and coordinator directly through our California State Parks On-Demand Program Directory!

How do I connect students remotely?

We recommend asking all students to leave their cameras on, so that our presenter can see and interact with them. We ask that teachers support students to be attentive and engaged. Please remind students to keep their microphones on mute during the presentation, and to raise their hand if they have something to share. If you are connecting more than two classes (50+ students) we may transition the format of your program from a zoom meeting to a zoom webinar to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students present whether virtually or in-person.

How do I connect from my classroom?

We recommend using external speakers facing students. Please set up your PORTS presenter on a projector or large screen that all students can see and your connecting device where the presenter can see all students. If all students are able to connect through their personal computers, encourage them to follow the guidelines for connecting remotely above.

Can I share PORTS On-Demand or PORTScast in Google Classroom?

  1. Visit our Home page to share with your students and click on the Google Classroom icon in your browser to “Share to Classroom“.

  2. If you can’t see the Google Classroom icon in your browser, visit Google for more options.

  3. Before sharing our website, make sure you are signed-in with your G Suite for Education account.

  4. If your account doesn’t appear, click on your account icon and scroll down to click “Add account“.

  5. Click “Choose class” and select the class to share to. If you don’t have any classes, you’ll need to create one first.

  6. Click “Choose action” and select one of the following options:

    • Create assignment: This allows you to check whether students attended the webinar and include additional assessment or activities.

    • Ask question: This allows your students to respond to your question in addition to accessing our site.

    • Make an announcement: This is a great tool for sharing resources with your students but doesn’t allow you to track participation.

  7. Click Go to post.

  8. Include the zoom information provided to you in your confirmation from scheduling@acuityscheduling.com and write a message to your students on how to join the meeting. On-Demand Programs do not require students to register or sign-in to zoom.

    • If sharing a PORTScast, include a link to our website www.ports-ca.us and instructions on how to register

  9. (Optional) To view the announcement or assignment in Classroom, click View.

My students are using Chromebooks. How do I help them access programs on Zoom?

Please read the following article for How to Use Zoom on a Chromebook.

Our class can't use Zoom. Can we use another platform?

If needed, we can connect directly with you in your preferred video-conferencing interface. PLEASE NOTE: When registering for your program, please include your preferred video-conferencing information in the “additional notes” section. You can also contact your PORTS presenter and coordinator directly through the California State Parks On-Demand Program Directory.

Are PORTS Programs recorded?

Only PORTScasts are recorded. In this format, students do not appear on the screen. We do not record PORTS On-Demand Programs without the explicit consent of all involved parties and the completion of corresponding California State Parks media release forms. To view recordings of past PORTScasts, please visit our Previous Broadcasts page or check out our YouTube channel.

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns?

Connect directly with your PORTS presenter through our PORTS On-Demand Program Directory or visit our contact us page to contact PORTS Program staff.

I'm still confused!

We’re here to support our teachers! If you’re still struggling to connect or you still have questions, consult our California State Parks PORTS On-Demand Program Directory to contact the appropriate PORTS presenter or coordinator.