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Focus on Rural Schools Offers Opportunity for Telepresence Intervention

Rural schools have recently captured the attention of the federal government, which has redoubled its efforts to improve education in these areas, according to a blog post on the Education Week website. Making up more than half of the nation’s school districts, rural schools educate 23 percent of the country’s children, the post said.

The schools in many rural areas face significant challenges. At the Department of Education’s Rural and Indian Education Roundtable, held August 26 in South Dakota, teachers, education leaders, and families discussed the obstacles to quality education posed by extreme poverty, unemployment, cultural change, and difficulty recruiting and retaining quality teachers, according to the blog.

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Distance learning is new!

I was attending the SMART Technologies GETS conference in Berlin earlier this month and was asked to present on distance learning and collaboration twice during the day. Whilst I was preparing my slides I couldn’t stop thinking “Why are we so interested in distance learning and collaboration?”.

Distance learning can be traced back to the 1700’s and collaboration just used to be called cheating – there is nothing new here, nothing innovative!

So why all the fuss? However I ploughed on regardless and produced twenty odd slides of sensible and rational argumentation on the importance of distance learning and collaboration hoping to engage and not bore my audience.

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Educause: What Was Your Word?

I love Educause because there’s always buzz.  This year, it seemed to hit a high-pitched fervor.  The show comes alive and takes on a character of its own as technology leaders from across the country and globe share the challenges and issues that each of them is facing.  It takes on even more character in a city like Philadelphia where the sights and sounds of the Reading Terminal Market swirl around bustling show-goers who are trying to get in a quick Ruben sandwich in between sessions.  And, I was thrilled to know that the author of DIY-U, Anna Kamentz, would be there, imparting her unique perspective about students who will necessarily be designing their own unique ways to get a higher education.

One IT afficiando said to me, “It seems like each year, there’s a word that defines the show, and I think this year, it’s ‘cloud.’”  Someone else commented, “No, it’s the whole ‘open’ thing.” Another said, “Well, I think it’s really all about ‘remediation’ and ‘standards’ because our funding is going to hinge on this.”  It seems like everyone wants to find that one thing that will really impact them and their institutions, trying to get ahead of the wave so they don’t get engulfed by it.  Others said, “shared services, video, blended learning.”  I was most impressed by those colleges and universities that seem to be doing it all, driven by a unified vision around what’s really achievable.

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Cisco at EDUCAUSE 2011

Each year, EDUCAUSE surveys IT leaders in higher education to compile a list of Top 10 IT Issues. These issues will be top of mind at EDUCAUSE 2011, which is taking place this year in Philadelphia. Please visit us at booth 1227 to speak directly with Cisco subject matter experts and discuss how Cisco solutions solutions can help you improve student outcomes, increase efficiency, enhance safety and security, and expand research capabilities.

Here’s a summary of the demonstrations that will be featured in our booth.

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University of South Carolina Business School Pioneers Telepresence Instruction

A few months back I shared some ideas on how telepresence could help raise student satisfaction with higher education programs. It’s exciting, now, to share a success story of telepresence’s invaluable contribution to one business school program that earned rave reviews from participants.

Using Cisco TelePresence, the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business conducted its first custom executive education program. The Moore School connected leaders at textile manufacturer Fiberweb in Frankfurt, Germany, with professors in Columbia, South Carolina, allowing them to work together on marketing and strategy projects … and no one had to step foot on a plane.

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