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New Bills in U.S. Government Show Commitment to Video

Being effective in your job doesn’t always mean that you need to be there.  In fact, many would argue that their productivity increases drastically when they are given the flexibility to work wherever they want as long as they can stay connected.  If that means staying off of a plane for a business trip, even better because it also saves the company money.

Enter video conferencing, the tool that enables users to be part of the discussion without being there.  But what does “there” really mean in today’s world? With mobile technologies, including video, transforming how and where we work, the concept of “there” is really anywhere you want it to be. “There” can be a traditional office that is now equipped with video technologies that enable collaboration with others across the world without having to travel in order to conduct business. It can also be working remotely and still being part of your business community with mobile video and other applications that allow users to work at home, at a coffee shop or anywhere they like.

The move to stay connected at anytime from anywhere has been engaged by many organizations including the U.S. Federal Government. To help agency’s ensure productivity while cutting travel costs the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would allow absent Congress members to vote via video conferencing. The bill allows members to cast votes remotely over video and be treated as if they were present in person at meetings.

Government members are also extending this sentiment beyond the walls of Congress as Representative Michael Fitzpatrick also introduced a new bill — H.R. 2643, the Stay In Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013 — to review agencies’ efforts to reduce travel spending and develop a plan to cut travel expenses by 50 percent through the use of video conferencing technologies.

Is it really going to make a difference? Read More »

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Innovation is Standard at Idaho Education Network

July 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm PST

For the last four or five years, I’ve watched as the Idaho Education Network (IEN) has implemented and reaped the benefits from their distance education program and use of video conferencing, or telepresence. To this day, they continue to improve on success, and during a session at ISTE 2013 last week, Brady Kraft and his team once again illustrated how they consistently stay on top of their game.

Brady Kraft, IEN, presents at ISTE 2013

Brady Kraft, IEN’s Technical Director, presents at ISTE 2013

IEN is a statewide network that connects every school in the state, including higher education institutions, Internet2, private and public training providers, and first responder training organizations.

One of their mandated goals is to provide equal access to a quality education for all citizens and they’re utilizing technology to achieve that goal. As the 7th  most rural state in the nation, half of the counties in Idaho have less than 10 people per square mile, and 75% of Idaho’s schools have < 600 students. These schools havenot been able to offer a full curriculumdue to many factors, including availability of qualified teachers and budgetary restraints. Read More »

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The Collaboration Evolution – A Strategy for Transforming Education

For today’s digital generation, collaborative learning is no longer a novelty – it’s an expectation.  Students are consuming information in new and different formats – video, Internet, virtual classrooms.  These are all tools that are changing the face of education.  To make this transformation a reality, students, faculty and administrators need to reliably connect with the people and resources they need whether they’re using their desktop or mobile device, at home or in the classroom.

As more schools offer a comprehensive and collaborative learning experience, they are seeing vast benefits. To transform the delivery of education Katy Independent School District deployed Cisco Unified Workspace, adding mobile capabilities and immersive video. The decision to invest in these collaborative solutions resulted in improved test scores, increased student, teacher engagement and ease of IT administration.

For schools looking to take the plunge like Katy ISD, what’s the best approach to take?

As I discussed in this recent blog post about collaboration strategies for government organizations, the best approach is looking at the problem with the big picture in mind.

With Cisco Unified Workspace, schools can build a scalable and secure network that will serve as a strong foundation for the future. Watch the video below to see how Cisco’s solution is designed with utility to unify voice, video, data and secure access on any device and at any location.

Equipped with Cisco’s smart collaboration strategy schools can combine voice, video and mobility to create a classroom that allows faculty and students to collaborate efficiently and securely.

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Concert Connects Students, Celebrities on Virtual Stage

May 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm PST

Budget cuts are costing many American students their arts education. As a wanna-be artist and overall proponent of all things creative, I have long valued the impact of arts education – especially in public schools. Unfortunately, these are the programs that are too often cut when budgets are slashed and difficult decisions must be made.

OK, so you probably won’t argue with me that art is important – after all, as children, it’s how we learned a lot of things, right? Who doesn’t have at least one thing they use a song to remember? I only have to key into the tune of ’3 blind mice’ to remember how to calculate the area of a circle (thanks to Mr. Bowlware, my fourth grade math teacher).

LAUSD students participate in BridgingGapsconcert

Studies show, too, that arts-engaged students show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers – especially in socially and economically disadvantaged student populations. This is exactly what makes programs like Fred Martin’s Urban Entertainment Institute (UEI) so valuable – and inspiring. Read More »

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Elevating the Learning Experience through Mobile Collaboration

It’s no secret that new technologies are changing the way students learn. The modern classroom is no longer confined to a physical space and students have access to greater educational opportunities than ever before.

Much like video has created new models for learning; mobile video collaboration is extending the boundaries of education even more. Imagine a school where students can instant message a professor from their tablet with an urgent question about tomorrow’s test and get an immediate response, or where a student athlete headed to a competition can join a lecture from their own personal mobile device. By overcoming space and time challenges, students and faculty can connect to the people and resources they need from wherever they are. No longer is education confined to the walls of the classroom. Read More »

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