TMCnews Featured Article
Educational Institutions Behind the Development of Web Meeting Technologies
By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Copy Editor
Research is now enabling companies and businesses to have several meetings a day with partners all over the world – all without leaving the office – by developing lifelike Web meeting technologies. It turns out educational institutions are also helping to drive this development and innovation, as these telepresence capabilities are now widely used to connect students, regardless of their location or status.
School districts, universities and colleges are all starting to introduce tools in the classroom that enable students to connect with an unlimited number of other peers through their computers or smartphone devices. This ability to transport voice data through the Internet is changing the face of online communications, as well as granting students access to higher learning and enhanced education systems.
For instance, two New Mexico school districts will be granted nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fuel their online educational programs and telemedicine. A grant of nearly $500,000 from the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program to the Gallup-McKinley County School District will assist 18 schools in the creation of a video teleconferencing system in which teachers and students in 10 communities will share courses via Web meetings and offer faculty a chance for professional development.
And, eight schools in the Jemez Valley Public Schools system will be able to connect through distance learning Web meeting equipment, thanks to a $475,146 grant. Students will be offered advanced placement and language classes, while teachers will benefit from continuing education courses. In addition, clinic staff of the Jemez Valley Medical Clinic will receive medical support and training.
According to New Mexico Senator, Tom Udall, the grants will do more than just provide educational tools to the students. “This funding will allow Gallup and Jemez schools to use developments in technology to bring important distance education and healthcare access to our rural communities,” Udall said. “Oftentimes, these communities are left with too few options to enhance their healthcare and education systems.”
On the other side of the world, a Chinese digital media center called the BeingThere Centre is working with several universities, including the Nanyang Technological University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the U.S.’s own University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, to develop realistic Web meeting technologies and remote-controlled avatars to virtually connect people. The universities, as well as Singapore’s Interactive Digital Media Programme Office, are all contributing to the $23 million project, which is expected to be completed in four years.
Four types of robotic prototypes, including a roving display, a mobile robotic mannequin, and a robot with sense and recording capabilities, in addition to a room-based Web meeting system, will be the focus of the project.
It’s no doubt that educational systems will continue to bring Web meeting technologies into the classroom, as well as help to fund and support the ongoing research that will eventually lead to a world where connecting to people through Web meetings is the norm.
Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet copy editor. Previously she was assistant to the editor at The Darien Times, a weekly newspaper in Darien, Conn., where she edited submissions, did page layout and design and helped manage the newspaper's website. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jaclyn Allard