Federal E-Rate Program Helping K-12 Classrooms Travel the Globe

It’s easy to forget that one of the greatest discoveries of modern science began with a field trip. An inquisitive undergraduate at Cambridge University with a fascination for the natural world was given an opportunity to leave the classroom and set sail. This voyage from England to the shores of South America resulted in the theory of natural selection and catapulted the amateur naturalist, Charles Darwin, into the history books.

We can all recall participating in field trips of our own during our school years. Those bumpy rides at the back of museum-bound yellow buses may have helped us identify with Darwin’s bouts with seasickness, but our destination was most likely some place across town and not the exotic Galapagos. New technology, however, is helping resurrect the adventuresome spirit of Darwin, offering children access to learning opportunities not just around the block but around the globe.

We recently had the good fortune to see this new kind of learning in action at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center (SCCLC). Vidyo’s platform for education provided 22 California middle-schoolers the opportunity to spend an afternoon at a museum in Denver, 1,289 miles from their Bay Area classroom. The students participated in a virtual class on the circulatory system, and in the true spirit of scientific inquiry, they each got the chance to virtually dissect a sheep’s heart.

“The students and I formed a relationship with the science educator in Denver, and at a point, the monitor disappeared and it was as if he was in our classroom as one of us.”

“Seeing a heart on an iPad made learning accessible and interactive in a new way the students had never experienced before,” explained Ben Sibrack, a science and language teacher at SCCLC.  “The students and I formed a relationship with the science educator in Denver, and at a point, the monitor disappeared and it was as if he was in our classroom as one of us.”

Virtual field trips can bring course material to life in ways not possible with traditional, less interactive learning.  “We got to have our lesson in a whole new way. I thought it was really cool, different and fun,” explained one young student.  Another 6th grader surprised us by revealing, “I liked the virtual trip better than a real field trip because I can focus better in the classroom.”

Only a few short years ago, video conferencing was reserved for the Fortune 500 and universities with deep pockets. Today, however, HD-quality, multi-person conferences can take place over ordinary broadband networks and off-the-shelf computers already installed in most classrooms. To help schools make video conferencing an affordable reality, Vidyo is announcing that our education products are now eligible for discounts through E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides assistance for schools and libraries to purchase telecommunications and Internet access.

Museums, zoos, research institutes and theaters are embracing virtual fieldtrips via video conferencing as a way to expand their educational mission and reach a wider array of learners. A classroom today can travel to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA to learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor, visit The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to take a virtual walk through forest canopies, or learn how to prepare a space shuttle for lift-off at NASA’s America’s Spaceport: John F. Kennedy Space Center. We hope that E-Rate and virtual field trips will help to democratize education by making world-class learning resources available to all learners.

“There’s so much potential with what we can do with HD, multiparty video conferencing over the Internet.  It gives us the opportunity to really break down barriers and change how we educate, in a way that was never thought possible a few years ago,” explained Mr. Sibrack. “With the kind of video conferencing that Vidyo delivers, we’re able to easily set up collaborative educational communities between schools within the Bay Area.  For that matter, we’ll now be able to set up collaborative communities across the U.S. and internationally as well.  These possibilities are amazing.”

I came to the United States to study and be part of the computer revolution.  Today, our schools are challenged to provide the level of educational exposure required to keep our students competitive with the world.  I believe one of the issues is that schools don’t have access to experts locally but, ironically, the United States has the largest resources of such experts in country – making it a distribution problem. Vidyo conferencing and communications solves this problem by bringing the experts closer to students and by making educational content available virtually from everywhere.

Click here to learn more about bringing Vidyo to your classroom through the E-Rate program.

Vidyo’s Education in Biological Diversity

ASUThere’s a lot to be said for learning from real life versus a text book. The staff and faculty at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences (SOLS) took the “seeing is believing” approach to education one step further, and last year initiated a class that allowed ASU students to explore the jungles of Panama without having to leave Tempe, Arizona.  Not only that, they were guided by leading research scientists and experts from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s facilities on Barro Colorado Island, in the middle of the Panama Canal!

Though the planning of this ASU-SOLS-Smithsonian virtual classroom project went smoothly, there was one major hitch.  Where could they find a video communications and collaboration solution that would allow students and faculty at ASU to connect easily and with exceptional (not just “good enough”) quality, to experts in these remote tropical areas? When Charles Kazilek, SOLS Director of Technology Integration and Outreach, discovered Vidyo, he was thrilled.

 

Videoconferencing from the jungles of Panama

 

According to Kazilek,  “We needed to demonstrate to our team at SOLS that our solution could be taken to extreme limits and still work to the standards that we required. We needed to link telepresence to scientists in remote areas… environments that required something very flexible, very portable… something that actually works. We wanted to see how far we could penetrate literally into the jungle and bring back that experience to our students. We wanted to see how far we could push Vidyo.  Could we run it on 3G? Can we get it into the jungle?  Can we get it into the middle of an island in the middle of the Panama Canal?  What we found is – YES we can!”

Pretty incredible – but don’t take our word for it. Check out this great video that documents Vidyo’s important role in the ASU-STRI project and see for yourself!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Maavqxkphmk

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Related Links:

- Full press release: Arizona State University Selects Vidyo to Enable Virtual Classrooms in Tropical Biodiversity with the Smithsonian.
- Full VidyoReplay press release:
“Vidyo Announces Availability of Recording and Webcasting Solution for Video Conferencing”
- Full VidyoRouter Cloud Edition press release: “Vidyo Architecture Offers Unmatched Scalability and Economics for Large Enterprise and Carrier Video Conferencing”

 

 

VidyoReplay Enables Users to Record and Webcast from Vidyo Endpoints

Enterprise Connect is buzzing with new and exciting technologies, and among other noteworthy demonstrations, Vidyo is showcasing its just-announced  VidyoReplay solution, at Booth #1209.

VidyoReplay allows users to easily webcast and record their Vidyo conferences via their web browser and to watch them either in real time, or at any time after the conference. Users can also record and webcast from Vidyo endpoints, including hand held devices, laptops, desktops and VidyoRoom systems.  With VidyoReplay, conferences can be recorded in standard web video file (FLV) format with no proprietary player required to view the recorded content.

Here is a clip recorded over VidyoReplay, of Vidyo’s Director of Product Marketing, Mark Noble, giving a quick overview and demonstration of VidyoReplay’s capabilities:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU-TBbPL3oU

VidyoReplay has been used in a wide variety of environments ranging from legal firms, healthcare, governmental uses, to applications for K-12 and higher education. Charles Kazilek, Director of Technology Integration and Outreach of Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, uses Vidyo in an ASU classroom setting for high-quality Vidyo exchanges with Smithsonian Institution scientists and researchers located in the jungles of Panama.

“With VidyoReplay we can now capture these valuable interactions to use as an educational resource for larger groups of students to view and learn from; it enhances the learning experience for our faculty and students alike,” he says. “The Vidyo system transforms typical mediated classrooms on campus into real time, research and learning environments. No other video communications solution offers the kind of access, ease-of-use and quality that we’re getting from Vidyo and now, with VidyoReplay, ability to record and broadcast the content of this video collaboration. Vidyo has opened a range of education and research opportunities that we never thought would be possible.”

For more details on VidyoReplay’s technology and offering, click here!

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Related Links:

- More information about Vidyo’s participation at Enterprise Connect: Click here!
- Full VidyoReplay press release:
“Vidyo Announces Availability of Recording and Webcasting Solution for Video Conferencing”
- Full VidyoRouter Cloud Edition press release: “Vidyo Architecture Offers Unmatched Scalability and Economics for Large Enterprise and Carrier Video Conferencing”

 

Vidyo and Adobe at EDUCAUSE 2010

EDUCAUSE is coming up next week (October 12 – 15 in Anaheim, CA) and Vidyo’s EDUCAUSE Booth #507, will be THE place to visit with demos, info and news about our new education-focused partnerships!  Today we announced one… a very exciting collaboration between Vidyo and Adobe.

Both Vidyo and Adobe will be demonstrating a plug-in that allows users to launch a telepresence-quality Vidyo™ conference within an Adobe® Connect™ session to collaborate with multiple parties. The plug-in will demonstrate the ability to integrate Vidyo and Adobe Connect using Vidyo APIs, and is the result of an ongoing collaboration to offer market leading solutions to the education market. Adobe will be at EDUCAUSE Booth #2009.  The demonstration will also be part of a presentation by John Schuman in Meeting Room 210A, 8–8:50 am, on Oct. 14.

EDUCAUSE will offer 7 tracks, more than 250 sessions and over 200 exhibitors, and close to 500 speakers.  For those unable to attend the conference in person, there is a concurrent online conference that allows remote participants to experience many of the same speakers and content.

Stay tuned to the Vidyo Blog for more details about what Vidyo will be demonstrating at EDUCAUSE!