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

January 11, 2012 at 7:46 am PST

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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No Bus Needed: Telepresence connects students, cultures

January 3, 2012 at 8:39 am PST

Reading about the Bus funding crisis in California has ignited a number of discussions around how collaboration technologies could be used to soften some of the impact of losing the busing funds. We’ve talked here numerous times about how telepresence is being used to take students on field trips and connect them to new learning experiences, without the necessity of travel.

Field trips are often times students’ favorite memories from school. Who doesn’t love getting to leave the classroom for the day and explore what they’re learning hands-on? Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can prevent a good field trip experience in today’s educational environment – whether it’s the school’s rural location or the ever-decreasing school budgets. Read More »

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FCC Decision Opens the Door for Rural Broadband Access

December 13, 2011 at 6:37 am PST

I heard an NPR story the other day about the FCC‘s recent ruling that diverts monthly fees from rural telephone service to rural broadband service. The “Universal Service Fund” or something similar has been around since the early 20th century, charging a small fee on our phone bills to subsidize phone service for rural areas and the poor.

The newly minted “Connect America Fund” now allocates this money for mobile telephone and broadband in rural communities and needy areas. As I’ve discussed in a blog post earlier this year, access to the internet can not only offer rural U.S. citizens access to critical information, but it can provide them health care benefits that could literally save lives.

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West Palm Beach Integrates Digital Technology, With Room for Telepresence

December 9, 2011 at 8:57 am PST

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is on to something.

The popular tourist destination, and home to 100,000 residents, has embarked upon its own digital revolution of sorts. In an effort to develop business, bring digital communication to the underserved, and make its citizens feel more connected to the local government, West Palm Beach has pulled out nearly all the technological stops.

To bridge the digital divide between wealthy and impoverished populations, the city has installed free Wi-Fi in many public places, including its famous waterfront and the public library. Two Youth Empowerment Centers now include audio/visual recording labs to encourage teens’ multimedia skills and interests. Additionally, in terms of constituent outreach, a planned “Tele-Town Hall” will enable residents to connect with city officials via phone, local television, and social media.

So what more could West Palm Beach do to optimize its technological prowess? Add more telepresence… Read More »

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Challenging Students to Reach Out with Telepresence

November 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm PST


Ever hear about an interesting location, historical site or tourist attraction and thought “wow, I only live five miles from there, I should check it out”? Well, it just happens that there are numerous groups of students who are engaging with the uniqueness of their communities and sharing their knowledge with the world.

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