April brought exciting news for America's higher education system. Vidyo, Inc. and Internet2 have partnered to offer a low-cost, subscription-based video communications system for all Internet2 university members and thousands of public K-12 schools in the United States. Early adopter enrollment is expected to begin in May.
The introduction of a reliable telepresence service into our educational system yields endless possibilities. As our capacity to connect with the world strengthens (via the internet and mass media), so does our understanding that we do not exist in a vacuum. Collaboration is imperative. Telepresence technology facilitates important collaborative relationships regardless of geographic barriers.
Vidyo technology has clear benefits in higher education, particularly between research programs. Multiple research teams across institutions and disciplines may work together to examine and solve important problems. Research teams traveling to satellite sites may remain connected to campus activities and support crews. But this partnership in education also inspires other ideas.
With Vidyo technology, we may see educational collaborations between the professional world--corporate, industrial, trade, human services, global--and education institutions, both higher and K-12. Such collaborations could improve the capacity of our schools to produce a highly and appropriately skilled work force, as participants exchange information about changing trends and needs. Such collaborations could inspire students in the choices they make regarding their futures, being given an insider's perspective not possible through strictly theory-based curricula.
With the ability to engage in real-time (face-time) communication across geographic barriers, students have the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of experts via discussions about current issues. Education becomes more meaningful when it jumps out of the textbook. Also, it shrinks the distance between the classroom and the global context. Students who see a world outside of their own neighborhoods are more likely to exercise compassion for others with different worldviews.
The partnership between Vidyo and Internet2 to bring reliable telepresence technology to education is an exciting step toward meaningful and collaborative learning and exploratory experiences.