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Video Blog: Been to the Great Barrier Reef Lately?

March 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm PST

A great discussion here following a virtual fieldtrip (VFT) to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia by a 5th grade class at Augusta Elementary School in Greenville, South Carolina,  .

Cisco’s Dr. Lance Ford discusses the experience with one of the 5th grade students and her father who also attended the VFT.

Margaret Murphy, the 5th grade teacher who planned the VFT had this to say:

“Extending an opportunity to students to (voluntarily) come to school and immerse themselves in a foreign ecosystem is an amazing new method to reach our children…. Read More »

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Challenging Colleges to Cut Costs Through Technology

March 5, 2012 at 9:24 am PST

If you’re a parent, you might want to sit down. Some financial advisors predict a four-year college education that begins in 2015 will cost about $120,000. And that’s for public school. The private price tag runs closer to $230,000.

You can exhale now. Thankfully, the federal government has taken note of the ever-heavier burden families bear to cover college tuition. In his January 24 State of the Union address, President Obama challenged higher education institutions to find innovative ways to cut costs and acknowledged universities that have optimized their technology in an effort to lower student expenses. His praises echoed those delivered by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the November 2011 Financial Student Aid conference. Read More »

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Interactive Distance Learning Transforming the Future of Education

February 20, 2012 at 11:42 am PST

Distance learning for students and teachers is a growing trend as the leaders of today and tomorrow look for new, efficient ways to learn, educate, and inspire.

A recent Education Week article highlights some of the ways universities are improving their online professional development options. For example, Arizona State has partnered with the state’s Department of Education to host the IDEAL program, which offers online teacher education in language arts, math, and science instruction, as well as technology integration and classroom management. Boise State has also launched an online portal through which K-12 instructors can take an assortment of online, facilitator-led workshops. Read More »

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Universities Adjust to Teaching a Different Kind of College Freshman

February 8, 2012 at 5:14 am PST

There’s a different kind of college freshman on university campuses these days. According to EdWeek’s report on The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 survey, today’s freshman bears more of the cost of his or her own education than did past first-year college students, and, as a high school senior, today’s freshman paid more attention to his or her studies than those who came before.

So what does this mean for colleges?

For one, today’s students’ higher academic engagement could translate into demand for more innovative, challenging courses. But with the survey showing more students taking out large student loans as their parents’ unemployment rates remain stagnant, universities cannot raise tuition price tags to hire more faculty to develop new classes. President Obama said as much in his January 24 State of the Union address, mandating that schools use tools like “better technology” to improve their course offerings without raising costs. Read More »

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Telepresence Can Build Bridges Between Young Learners

February 3, 2012 at 10:04 am PST

Two classes of New Jersey middle school students recently enjoyed a unique opportunity for exchange with their peers. From neighboring towns, the eighth graders live worlds away from each other demographically—one town is largely affluent and white, while the other is mostly low income with a predominately black and Hispanic population. Each class studied John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and they visited each other’s schools to discuss perceptions of the novel.

As reported in The New York Times, the students at both middle schools found the interaction with their counterparts eye-opening and rewarding, both in terms of literary analysis and cultural understanding. The ability to see the text—and life—from a different perspective fostered a rich educational experience.

With telepresence and other collaborative technologies, students are able to mimic the exchange in which the New Jersey youth participated, except they could share ideas with and experience the cultures of peers not only across town boundaries, but also across state lines and country borders. Telepresence enables a real-time, high-definition connection that allows for a quality of conversation comparable to in-person interaction, creating a unified classroom across geographies. The telepresence set-up establishes an environment that feels inclusive and intimate—the students would feel as though they had traveled to each other’s schools. They could see the detail in each other’s settings, in clothes, hairstyles, facial expressions, and other aesthetics that make up parts of a culture. Read More »

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