Sheffield City Council Intros Virtual Classroom Network

Classroom interactivity with real world learning opportunities is at the core of a new video technology system recently introduced into secondary schools in Sheffield, UK. Working with technology partner Techex, music and technology training outfit Red Tape Central, and The Music and Information Technology Training Centre in South Yorkshire, the Sheffield City Council has integrated a TelePresence system, based on the HaiVision hai1000 series video network system, into the city's schools to give students an opportunity to interact via live video with guest speakers, presenters, educators, and one another via remote city learning centers (CLCs).

The system's primary hub is located at the Sheffield studio of Red Tape Central and features a stage for the guest presenter, seating for students, a screen displaying the live broadcast, and four additional screens providing live feeds from each CLC.

The hai1000 series is designed to ensure high-quality video communication while using extremely low bandwidth. In addition, the system features easy-to-use, wall-mounted control panels that allow for easy accessibility and operation, regardless of the user's technological experience.

"The goal of our CLCs is to provide Sheffield-area students with state-of-the art, technology-based learning opportunities, and this system, based on HaiVision technology, supports this objective by delivering live two-way video that brings immediacy to remote learning and reflects the enthusiasm of participating speakers and students," said Andy Wynne, e-Learning development adviser, Children and Young People's Directorate, Sheffield City Council. "The simplicity of the solution has proven to be a key benefit as well. Our technology partner, Techex, installed the HaiVision systems so that our staff can simply walk into the room, hit a wall switch, and get started."

The HaiVision system, said a spokesperson, was installed in Sheffield with funding from the 14-19 Diploma Initiative of the Department for Children, Families, and Schools. The initiative represents the government aim of adding a vocational component to a nationwide reform process for students aged 16 and older.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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