President Obama’s first State of the Union address focused on the expected hot topics of today, from job creation to healthcare reform. In addition, it also featured some aggressive thoughts about the current state of America’s education system, and ways it can be improved.
It’s no secret that America has slowly been losing its global edge in innovation, science, mathematics, engineering and technology over the years (STEM, which we’ve written about previously). Graduation rates have been much lower than expected in many regions of the country and schools have struggled to meet academic standards. According to his State of the Union address, President Obama is looking to stem this tide and turn around America’s schools by investing in reform and rewarding successful schools that embrace innovation.
The President is looking to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and bring Race to the Top, a competitive grant program, to all 50 states. This program rewards schools that embrace innovation and work to increase student achievement and education in science, technology, engineering and math (known as STEM subjects).
For schools looking to be a part of this exciting competition, embrace innovation in the way they teach students and create excitement around STEM subjects, there are new technologies that can help get them there. A great example is video teleconferencing (VTC).
VTC technologies allow teachers to bring professionals, scientists, doctors and other experts directly to students to discuss how the lessons they are learning apply outside of the classroom. VTC also enables students to be virtually transported to far off places to see their lessons in action.
The economic benefits of VTC solutions are so important today. Schools can continue to provide a quality, rich educational experience to students even when additional funding and resources are unavailable.
By breaking down the walls between students, teachers and experts, VTC is bringing a richer educational experience to America’s children and STEM’ing the recessionary tide.
Multiple recent events, from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, have led government pundits and officials to call for better communication between government agencies. This increased collaboration is necessary to keep citizens safe, respond to disaster and emergency, and operate more effectively and efficiently.
Unfortunately, there’s a significant roadblock for increasing collaboration within and among agencies. As a rising number of agencies turn to video teleconferencing (VTC), instant messaging and other advanced and rapid forms of communication, converged voice and data networks are relied upon more than ever. This creates a problem for disparate agencies each relying on a different vendor for their network and communications infrastructure.
The key to enabling interagency collaboration and communication across these varied, disparate networks is interoperability. At TANDBERG, interoperability and firewall traversal are some of the most important features of our VTC solutions.
In fact, TANDBERG was first to deliver a telepresence solution that could interoperate with third-party systems, the first to enable high-definition video between Microsoft Office Communicator and multi-screen telepresence, and the first to deliver HD telepresence and video conferencing solutions that can interoperate with any other standards compliant systems. Interoperability is at the core of our VTC products.
The ability to enable face-to-face communication regardless of distance gives VTC solutions the ability to truly bring government agencies together and increase inter-agency communication and collaboration. When agencies are looking for VTC systems that will help them work more closely with other government organizations, the most important feature should always be true interoperability.
Helping the government better serve it’s constituents through collaboration and teamwork -- now that’s a new way of governing.
With America’s school systems seeing decreases in gradation rates and the country losing its edge in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subject knowledge to other countries, it’s evident change is needed.
The call to reform education has led to some very drastic measures being taken in cities across America. In New York, the Education Department has begun closing schools that are failing to meet standards. This move is going to cost a significant number of jobs and create hardships for students and parents whose schools are being affected.
Although the shuttering of large, failing schools in favor of smaller educational establishments has proven positive for graduation rates and other standards of evaluating academic performance, it’s not without negatives.
New York State is currently under significant budget constraints and cuts to New York City’s budget are already expected to cost 8,500 teachers and scores of other city employees their jobs. With the closing and reorganization of 19 schools, in conjunction with the other cuts being made to city personnel, the increase in unemployed citizens will invariably cause considerable strain on New York’s social services.
Video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions help improve underperforming schools VTC delivers not only experts, professionals and educational content, but allows high performing teachers and administrators to extend their reach to students across campus, across the state or around the world. With VTC, students access classes on other campuses, talk to experts about how everyday lessons relate to real life professions and occurrences, tour places they could previously not visit and see their lessons come to life.
With the ability to share resources through VTC, schools are able to offer the highest quality staff and a wide array of lessons and subjects to students in multiple locations. This allows schools to share the best teachers and even offer subjects that may have been cut for budget purposes such as the arts and foreign languages.
Closing schools may help to increase graduation rates and improve academic standards when looking at statistics, but there are significant costs to the community. Using VTC to break down the walls between students and a better education is a better way of teaching…and learning.
The past 10 years have seen their fill of disasters, including terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and devastating earthquakes in Haiti this year. Impossible to predict and unpreventable, these events are examples of why disaster preparedness is so important. Crisis situations arise quickly and with little or no notice, and the speed of which we can provide necessary aid and assistance can often mean the difference between life and death.
Even with all these disasters, CNN reported today that a commission established to assess national security measures gave the U.S. government a failing grade in improving response time, especially response to biothreats. The commission found that despite improvements to identifying and preventing incidents, the past three administrations had failed to improve preparedness and response.
The failure to implement video teleconferencing (VTC) for delivery of healthcare during crisis situations is an incredible example of missed opportunities to improve disaster response.
Video teleconferencing (VTC) has seen rapid adoption in the healthcare arena as one way to deliver medical care quickly to those who need it. VTC has incredible potential in disaster response for increasing access to specialized health and medical services, enabling remote monitoring to control disease outbreaks and by providing back-up surge capacity for local healthcare providers.
Unfortunately, even with a wide array of implementation where VTC is helping to save lives and provide medical care to those in need, the wide-spread infrastructure and equipment investments and installations needed to bring VTC to mass disaster-relief operations have yet to be made. In fact, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has grown frustrated by the sheer amount of recommendations that they’ve made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use of VTC solutions in disaster recovery that have been ignored.
VTC solutions are capable of bringing care to victims of disasters. By enabling VTC in disaster response, the American government can break down the walls between skilled specialists and the victims who need care and empower a new way of responding.