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

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

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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The Power of Pervasive Video

We’re having a great time in Baltimore this week at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Customer and Industry Forum 2011 (DISA). We’ve had the opportunity to discuss telepresence with people from all across the defense industry, and we’ve learned a great deal about their innovative and enterprising communications practices.

All of these discussions of enhancing information exchange for better command and control of military operations and improving communication throughout the Defense Department highlighted, for me, the profound impact a wide video collaboration deployment can have on an agency. With telepresence connections available to all employees, business retains continuity during disruptions, teleworkers stay fully connected, and agencies fulfill their commitments to environmental sustainability, among other benefits.  Read More »

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Colorado Springs Provides Nursing Education to Rural Community

Rural communities are increasingly losing trained professionals to larger cities where up-to-date education & certification are more accessible. The Smart+Connected Community in Action video case study on Colorado Springs takes us to a smart+connected community in rural Colorado that is working with the bigger city of Denver to address this important issue.  

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