Vidyo and Internet2 Partnership Brings Collaborative Potential to Education

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.

Growth of Telepresence Despite Economic Obstacles

Despite an overall lackluster economy, the growth in telepresence still remains promising. While the benefits of telepresence and video conferencing are clear, obstacles in the World Macroeconomy prevented certain businesses from making the transition; in the past few years, companies have had to prioritize again and again, and even cut back on which at first they deemed essential. However, there were still some improvements in the telepresence and videoconferencing market, signaling both the current strength and future prospects of the industry.

Recent research provided by IDC shows that the worldwide enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence equipment market was $2.64 billion in 2012, down from $2.71 billion in 2011. However, they attribute this decrease to macroeconomic variables rather than a decrease in demand for the equipment.

While the overall equipment market decreased, other aspects of the telepresence and videoconferencing industry saw healthy growth. In 2012, room-based video conferencing grew 4.1 percent from 2011, and personal videoconferencing grew 5 percent.

The benefits of videoconferencing remain intact and relevant. Businesses can still cut down on increasing travel fees and save time and energy by hosting a video conference rather than an actual meeting. In addition, the telepresence and videoconferencing industry both depends on and is driven by network externalities. Similar to how the fax machine became more useful when other businesses purchased fax machines, videoconferencing becomes more desirable as other businesses adopt the technology. With growth in the industry and the equipment market seeing new customers enter the industry, videoconferencing is set to continue it's growth and increasingly be seen as a necessity for day-to-day business.

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