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Solving Education Budget Crises with Telepresence

September 9, 2011 at 7:28 am PST

As we’ve talked about before, Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California has state-of-the art facilities. But, it has no students. Financed with $105 million of bond money allocated in 2007, the school now lacks the $3 million it needs from the state to operate for one year. California state budget cuts of $18 billion, one-third of the state’s education funding, keep Hillcrest’s halls and classrooms empty.

In similar dire straits as California, Minnesota’s state government this summer borrowed $2.2 billion from its public schools to end a government shutdown. The state has not set a date by which to pay the schools back.

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Go Global with GPN and the TelePresence Distributor-as-Agent Initiative

The saying goes that you should think globally, but act locally. Well guess what—now you can, thanks to Cisco partner Westcon Group.

Comstor, the distributor business unit of Westcon Group, now offers support for the Global Partner Network for the Cisco TelePresence Distributor-as-Agent track. Cisco’s  Global Partner Network (GPN) enables customers with global requirements to better utilize resources of Cisco partners. And now, you can efficiently conduct project management, delivery and logistics globally for your customers’ TelePresence requirements.

Here’s how it works: The program can allow you to act as host in your customer’s headquarters to deliver a globally coordinated solution. According to Bill Hurley, CTO of the Westcon Group, this can help you not only think, act, and grow your business from a global perspective, but also do a single local transaction with local support.

“TelePresence is a global technology—it’s not about just putting it in a local campus. Most companies look to it for global communications, and this program enables our partners to be confident that they can speak with their end-users intelligently and confidently about TelePresence,” he said.

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Among TechAmerica IT Policy Recommendations, Innovation Key for State & Local Government

September 1, 2011 at 6:58 am PST

As our country continues to face budget woes, it seems especially imperative for state and local governments to implement TechAmerica’s IT policy recommendations, covered last week by Sarah Rich of Government Technology. The first priority listed was for the public sector to,Implement policies and actions that will increase collaboration and communication between the private sector and state and local government in all areas of technology acquisition, deployment and service delivery.”

We have already seen rapid adoption of innovative programs, like telepresence technology, being implemented by some government agencies, as it is critical for enhancing collaboration among agencies and departments and increasing efficiencies. The role of technology is changing – it is no longer a support role but a driving force to save costs, increase performance and enrich the workplace. With telepresence, high definition video and audio allow reduce travel-related costs, productivity, costs of downtime, all while creating a more collaborative environment that encourages innovation. The Department of Transportation in Alabama is a great example of how telepresence can increase productivity and reduce expenses, using the technology for everything from new hire trainings to external meetings. The Federal government is also adopting this innovative technology to help keep the Department of Defense running smoothly amidst the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative, ensuring federal workers are still able to communicate in real time with the Pentagon offices. Read More »

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Telepresence A Valuable Tool for Project-Based Learning

August 29, 2011 at 10:46 am PST
edutopia article on project based learning

www.edutopia.org

In school, you’re learning all about fish. Would you rather look at, hold, and examine an actual fish to determine its species or would you prefer to read a textbook about a bunch of different fish?

Sliminess factor aside, I’d vote for seeing the actual fish.

The students in science teacher Michelle Underwood’s class feel the same way:  They love the hands-on projects — fish study included — that Underwood has worked into her classroom, they said in a video. A self-described convert from “death-by-Powerpoint” lecture style teaching, Underwood now embraces collaborative project-based learning to increase the depth of her students’ understanding and ensure their sustained interest. She brings everything from animals, to computers, to video equipment into her classroom to facilitate engaging lessons.

According to the educators at Edutopia, George Lucas’s educational foundation, Underwood has the right idea. Project-based learning, as opposed to textbook-based work, helps students retain more material and better develop the ability to self-direct, said an article by the Edutopia staff. Hands-on activities provide students opportunities to experiment with technology and witness real-world connections to the information they encounter in the classroom, the article said. Read More »

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Chris P. and NBA Legend Bill Russell Go One-On-One… ūmi Style

Palms sweaty, nerves tense, Chris P. steps to the screen. Eyes fixed intently on the 1080p HDTV in front of him.  Chris steps back, fires the first question at 12-time All-Star legend and NBA champion Bill Russell. Swish.  Sixty minutes and a lifetime’s worth of basketball knowledge later, Cisco made good on introducing Chris in Los Angeles with Bill Russell hundreds of miles away in his home via Cisco ūmi home telepresence.

You may recall Chris was the winner of our recent NBA Sweepstakes in which our online fans and followers got the opportunity to enter to win the chance of a lifetime – meet Bill Russell live via Cisco ūmi.  We got the chance to catch up with Chris and hear what he had to say about the experience.  For starters, Chris had the same experience that many others have when they first try out ūmi. “I didn’t even realize I was in his house until he moved around and I saw the photos on his wall.”  On the man himself, Chris was effusive with praise, noting “He was very easy to talk to and makes you feel like he’s someone you’ve talked to before. Very casual.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvjhJobcc9Y

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