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North American, Congolese Students in Video Collaboration

Global Nomads Group (GNG), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting international dialogue by partnering educators around the world, has chosen Polycom RealPresence video solutions technology to provide video collaboration for a Students Rebuild project that unites North American students with their counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Students Rebuild initiative lets students discuss opportunities to create handcrafted items such jewelry and bags in the DRC for sale by students in North America. Profits from the sales are then reinvested into the Goma community in the eastern part of DRC bordering Rwanda.

"Through the Students Rebuild program, we enable students around the world to engage in live problem-solving and knowledge-sharing discussions. Polycom video solutions and platform allow students to develop viable business plans, collaborate to accomplish common goals, and help to improve the lives of those living in the DRC," said Chris Plutte, executive director at GNG in a news release. "Video collaboration eliminates the barriers of time and distance separating the countries, and helps to enhance trust and understanding."

GNG is one of the partners of the Students Rebuild initiative which is led by the Bezos Family Foundation as a way to mobilize students worldwide to collaborate and take action to address "critical" global issues. This year's challenge is focused on creating awareness about humanitarian crises in Somalia and the DRC, the organization said.

The DRC, where more than 71 percent of the population lives in poverty, has experienced "a series of socio-political conflicts in recent years that have contributed to an environment in which Congolese students struggle to learn basic curricula" so GNG established a center designed to enable communication and creative discussion with north American students via Students Rebuild. The Polycom desktop video collaboration software is used via laptop computer with a video display projected onto a wall so the whole class can see the conference feed.

Additionally, some students have joined a GNG pilot program that includes video discussions on tablets that use the Polycom RealPresence Mobile free app to extend video collaboration beyond traditional conference rooms onto more personal media.

The result of both efforts is a plethora of "discussions that are unlike anything I've seen in a classroom," Plutte said. "With video collaboration students are able to share what they know about their own culture and economic environment, absorb new information and experiences from their worldwide counterparts, and bring their creative ideas to life. The clarity of the high definition experience makes it feel as though all the kids are in a room together."

About the Author

Jim Barthold is a freelance technology reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].