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February 19, 2013

K-6 Schools in SW Minnesota Now Use Video Technology from Video Guidance

By Jyothi Shanbhag, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile video conferencing systems are becoming an integral part of learning in schools and colleges. In order to make this facility available to kids in Bloomington, Minn.-based, Video Guidance has agreed to provide and deploy video technology to dozens of K-6 elementary schools in Southwest Minnesota.

This project was finalized after Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative was granted $498,328 from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. As per the project, the telecommunications program will exclusively connect K-6 students with guest speakers and distance learning classes. It will also take students on virtual field trips to the Great Lakes Aquarium, Minnesota Zoo, International Wolf Center and Minnesota Historical Society, which are all partners of Video Guidance.

“What makes this initiative unique is that it focuses solely on elementary students, which are usually the ones left out of video conferencing programs that since the 1980s have benefited only middle schools and high schools,” said Josh Sumption, manager of information technology for SW/WC Service Cooperative.

 “This is an exciting expansion of our videoconferencing capabilities in schools throughout Southwest Minnesota.”

Video Guidance is an independent partner of Cisco (News - Alert), Polycom and LifeSize, and maintains strategic alliances with Conference Plus, On Stream Media Corporation and VQ Communications. The company is now assigned to offer training and programming assistance to each school to ensure that the equipment will be fully integrated into the educational environment.

Students can benefit from the new system that can be hooked up to projectors, allowing a large, projected display for larger group assemblies or activities that require the use of a larger space such as a gym or auditorium.

“Each school will receive a completely mobile video conferencing system configured so that all an educator needs to do is roll the system into the classroom, plug in a power cord and the network cable, and the system will be ready to connect their classroom to an interactive world of possibilities,” said Mike Nelson, account manager for Video Guidance.

In addition, the educators and students can broadcast a wide variety of information and video to other sites throughout the region and world using the system which includes a document camera that will allow items such as pages of a book, microscopes, graphs and images to be used in conjunction with the video conferencing system.

The new systems are expected to be installed this spring so that educators are trained by the start of the 2013-14 school year, said company officials.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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