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Universities Adjust to Teaching a Different Kind of College Freshman

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

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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Could Grade-Schoolers Develop Cutting Edge Mobile Video Technology?

A while back, we asked what features you think would make up a good video collaboration app for smartphones and mobile devices.

Do you have your list?

If so, you should submit it to this team of primary school students in Sutton Coldfield, England. The youngsters take part in an after school computer club, during which they design apps for smartphones and tablets. They’ve already come up with sound effects and “painting” programs; could video be next? Read More »

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Properly Placed Telepresence a Must-Have in Higher Ed

We’ve seen telepresence take off in higher education programs, as we shared in a post on how the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business uses the technology to connect its students with executives across the world.

As more and more universities, including Duke in North Carolina, Madison College in Wisconsin, and Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania join the ranks of schools with fully equipped telepresence classrooms, it’s exciting to think of how these institutions are forging global scholarly dialogues and worldwide collaboration.

Witnessing the power of video to connect the academic world made me especially appreciative of a recent informative story in University Business. Writer Kristen Domonell details the importance of installing telepresence equipment in fully operational telepresence rooms in order for higher ed students to realize the benefits of the video technology. Read More »

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Telepresence Key to Boosting the Nation’s Science and Math IQ

Though it’s wonderful to read about recent positive trends, there’s no question that the jobless rate has caused concern for some time now. Did you know, however, that in some sectors there are consistently more job openings than there are qualified candidates?

According to a U.S. News blog post by Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, a New Jersey-based charter school founder, fields including computer science, environmental science, medicine, and engineering all need trained professionals. The problem, Bonilla-Santiago says, is that America’s schools don’t provide adequate training in the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—so there aren’t enough prepared people for the available jobs.

Part of the issue, Bonilla-Santiago suggests, is that teachers do not have adequate training in the sciences to effectively teach these subjects. Congress considered solutions that would bring more qualified instructors into the classroom, including encouraging STEM professionals to transition from their industry jobs to teaching positions. But wouldn’t this shift just exacerbate the current vacancy rates in the STEM fields? Read More »

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