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Overcoming Cancer in a Connected World

My Story: Beth Carter from LCPS-TV on Vimeo.

Growing up, we all had a favorite teacher. It may have been an impassioned English teacher keen on Shakespeare and Tolkien or perhaps a Science teacher with an over-the-top flair for dramatic experiments. As teachers, they inspired and challenged us. As memories, they continue to travel with us throughout life, still often influencing our behavior. For me that memory is Mr. Meredith, of AP English. His passion for teaching helped shape my own approach as an English teacher years later and continues to live on, transferred to my former students who now teach others.

Beth Carter, of Seneca Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County, Virginia, is that kind of teacher. Diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2014, Beth faced the real fear of infection from others and had to reduce contact with the outside world. But keeping a dedicated teacher from teaching is like keeping the sun out of the sky, an impossible task. Driven by her passion for teaching, and with a little help from Cisco, she soon found a way to keep doing what she does best – empowering others.

Beth’s husband, Gregg, is one of our Systems Engineers at Cisco. He decided to reach out to co-workers for help. Their diagnosis was to provide connectivity to enable Beth to teach her students from the comfort of her home. Cisco gladly provided a TelePresence EX90 system for use in her house, and a TelePresence SX20 Quick Set (hooked to a Promethean Board) for her classroom. The system streamlines her desktop at home so she can move fluidly from individual work, to video calls, to problem solving over shared documents. This lets Beth talk to her students face-to-face in real-time to solve math problems. Best of all, Beth’s students are learning much more from her than just math. They are learning how to face their challenges head-on. “I am able to teach lessons to my students as if I was actually in the classroom,” she said. “You have no idea how important that is to me as a teacher to know that during my battle with breast cancer I can stay connected to my kids.”

While distance learning technologies excel at bringing us together, they can also have psychological benefits. As Beth’s situation shows, real-time video enabled learning can let homebound students and teachers be a productive part of any class; enjoying social interaction and increasing their sense of belonging to a community. I would have benefited greatly from that as a teenager when homebound, post appendicitis. During that time another teacher, Mr. Ridgely, traveled to visit me. That’s something I’ll never forget. But imagine if I could have joined his class for those two lonely weeks instead, learning from home using TelePresence? I might be a best-selling author today. For those who face long-term illness, video can be the lifeline that keeps them focused and buoys their spirits until they can physically return to school. Students in the classroom can also benefit by developing a greater sense of compassion and understanding for others and the life changing situations they face.

Thanks to Cisco’s TelePresence technologies, Beth is continuing to inspire adults around her while helping build a positive future for the youth of Loudoun County, Virginia. You can listen to Beth’s story in her own words at https://vimeo.com/129800501 and learn more about connectivity at Cisco Connected Learning.

To see how TelePresence can benefit your students and staff, check out:

TelePresence for K-12 Education

TelePresence for Higher Education

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UC and Video – Phones of the Future

What will phones in the future look like?  If our experience at Cisco is any guide, there will be more and more phones, and they will look like almost anything. They will all have two things in common:  they will all bring people together – and they will do it with voice and video.  Always video.

The video may be on a small screen that fits in your pocket, or expands to your pad or laptop, a bigger screen that fits on the desk, or screens that cover the wall bringing people, lifesized, to your meetings from around the world.

At Cisco, we’re using all of these “phones” (although only one or two looks at all like a phone), and they all work together to bring people together, face to face.  Some share more than voice and video, adding presence information and contacts and instant click to call or click to chat or click to share desktops

Here’s Rich Gore from Cisco IT, to give a quick look at these different “phones” in use at Cisco today.

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Cisco to Show Off Its Collaboration Technologies at U.S. Courts Conference

This month Cisco TelePresence will be heading to Orlando May 15-17 for the 2012 Conference for Federal Defenders, an arm of the administrative office of the United States Courts.

Collaboration efforts are becoming common place among U.S. Courts as the need for effective communication is more important than ever. Now is the time for Connected Justice. Video conferencing, specifically, is increasingly making its way into courts around the world and proving to government organizations that it deserves a spot in their technology strategies. Its demonstrated benefits include reduced costs and enhanced operational efficiency.

At the event, Cisco will be showcasing its complete collaboration portfolio that is helping court systems around the world save on operational costs and creating in-person experiences.

The following collaboration solutions will be demonstrated:

This conference will be a great opportunity to highlight the affect collaboration can have on U.S. Courts to ensure effective communication while maximum ROI is delivered.

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Cisco TelePresence Taking Denver by Storm at DoDIIS 2012

Next week, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) will be hosting the 2012 Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DoDIIS) Worldwide Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Since Cisco TelePresence is helping government organizations around the world connect visually from anywhere at any time, it’s only natural we are attending one of the leading government conferences. 

In booth #801, experts at Cisco will be demonstrating a number of its innovative telepresence technologies including:

  • The Cisco TelePresence SX20 Quick Set is a flexible solution that helps you easily turn any flat panel display into a powerful telepresence system for small to medium-size meeting rooms. The SX20 Quick Set delivers high-definition video quality, multi-party conferencing, and three different camera options to accommodate room size and configurations.  At a value price, the SX20 Quick Set provides the performance expected of more expensive systems, in a sleek, compact, multi-featured package.
  • The Cisco TelePresence System EX Series transforms the workplace by combining work, communications, and collaboration – all on the desktop with just the touch of a finger.  Colleagues can instantly work together, whether they are separated by a hallway, a street, or several time zones. As part of the EX Series, the Cisco TelePresence System EX90 (EX90) and Cisco TelePresence System EX60 (EX60) support vivid, lifelike 1080p30 video, natural collaboration, and the simplicity of a touch screen interface for a complete solution that helps ensure conversations are more productive.
  • Cisco Cius is a tablet purpose-built for business and delivers end-to-end security, manageability, collaboration features and mobility for today’s workforce.
  • Jabber is a unified communications application that allows people to be more productive from anywhere by providing a single interface across presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, desktop sharing and conferencing.
  • Sneak Peak at Jabber for iPad– Cisco Jabber for iPad is a unified communications application that provides messaging, presence, voice, voice messaging, and video calling capabilities on the Apple iPad.

Attendees will also be able to see Cisco technologies at our partner booths including CDW-G (booth #607), CIS Secure Computing (booth #1018) and GTSI (booth #654).

Stay tuned for more information about Cisco’s participation at the conference and make sure to follow #Ciscogov on Twitter for news from the event.

We are looking forward to the event and hope to see you there!

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NAB: New Tools for News Gathering

Next week is the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, I thought it timely to look into some of the ways in which technology is intersecting with the business of video broadcasting.

Going on location to capture a news event, as one example, used to be about getting a truck there in time, setting up a remote studio, and everything that goes along with that: Travel time, travel costs, and the setup logistics that almost always add latency to the process. Every minute spent getting on-air is a minute not spent airing a live event, as any broadcast news editor will attest.

But as the world of IP intersects more deeply with the world of video, it’s becoming much easier, faster and cost-effective to capture and transmit live news. Here’s a few examples, all based around the Cisco TelePresence EX Series:

  • CNN’s coverage of the 2010 mid-term elections used EX90s to bring in on-air commentators James Carville (broadcasting from his home in New Orleans) and David Gergon (via his Harvard University office). In essence, the technology enabled CNN to quickly and easily take the studio to the talent, not the other way around. CNN got quick, on-air expertise; Carville and Gergon got to save time and travel expenses by working locally.
  • MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show regularly uses the EX-90 to capture live 1:1 interviews, extending the studio virtually as if the guest was physically present.
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) put up a circular kiosk, outfitted with a TelePresence screen, during a fan appreciation event in Phoenix. Fans were able to talk live with their favorite players, in a “you are there” setting.

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