News HighlightsPage address: http://www.mnsu.edu/news/read/?id=old-1346962277&paper=topstories
TelePresence System Allows Students to Learn in 'High Definition'
System is first of its kind installed at a United States university or college.
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 9-6-2012
Mankato, Minn. – When 30 students in a Minnesota State University, Mankato nursing research class taught by Jean Humphries take their seats in the classroom this fall, they are virtually in “two places at once.”
That is because a new Cisco TelePresence TX9200 system, the first of its kind to be installed at an institution of higher education in the United States, allows students in both Edina and Mankato to take the same course at the same time.
Minnesota State Mankato students are able to see and hear each other and their instructor simultaneously through life-size high definition video and audio technology, whether located at the University's main campus in Mankato or at its Edina location at 7700 France Avenue.
“This is fabulous and very conducive to engaged, collaborative teaching and learning,” said Candace Raskin, professor and director of Minnesota State Mankato’s Center for Engaged Leadership and director of Edina Site Management and Development.
“The idea is to make it seem like you’re sitting across the table from the other people no matter if they’re in the next room or across the world,” said Bryan Schneider, assistant chief information officer & director of technical services in Minnesota State Mankato’s Office of Information and Technology Services. “You look directly at people that are life size. If someone across the room is speaking, the audio is coming from that side of the room, you can see everyone’s face, you can see their facial expressions and clearly hear what they have to say. PowerPoint, video or electronic whiteboard is clearly visible in high definition and full frame rate. You push a button and the system powers up and makes the connection. You push another button on the touch screen and everything powers down.”
Jude Higdon, assistant chief information officer of academic technology services at Minnesota State Mankato, said the new TelePresence system can actually lead to more engaged learners and instructors.
"TelePresence classrooms are structured in a fundamentally different way," said Higdon. "Learners from across the rooms face one another; the physical space of the room encourages learners to engage in dialogue with their peers and instructor, articulating their own understandings, asking questions, and coaching their fellow learners. This type of pedagogical strategy maps well to what the learning science tells us about how people learn best."
Higdon also said that TelePresence is part of a much broader conversation in higher education around active learning, digital presence, and student engagement.
"This technology positions Minnesota State University as a front-runner in this space and brings an enormous benefit to our instructors and learners," said Higdon.
While a number of colleges and universities throughout the world have previous versions of TelePresence, the closest system to Minnesota State Mankato’s is at Madison Area Technical College (Wis.), which has had the previous version of the system for two years. Several other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are working to purchase TelePresence endpoints that will enable them to partner with Minnesota State Mankato in various educational programs.
TelePresence capabilities far surpass Interactive TV and other video conferencing systems previously used to facilitate distance learning. It allows students in different locations to be face-to-face and have the most natural and lifelike communications experience available.
TelePresence has the capability to go beyond the classroom. Schneider said that Minnesota State Mankato is testing software that runs on smart phones and laptops so students, faculty and guest speakers throughout the world can download a free app and connect to a TelePresence class. Video conferencing capabilities will enable recording of classes that can be viewed on demand.
TelePresence is now available to any Minnesota State Mankato college or department that wants to offer classes to cohorts in Edina and Mankato at the same time using one professor. In addition to the systems in Edina and the main Mankato campus, another system is available for setting up at another large classroom in another satellite location.
Minnesota State Mankato has been studying TelePresence technology for the past seven years. The University’s first TelePresence equipment was installed in June 2011 and included three conference-room sized TelePresence systems (TX1300), which are designed for six participants per room. One unit was installed in Edina and two on the main Mankato campus. Two smaller TelePresence endpoints were purchased for research.
Minnesota State Mankato’s latest TelePresence acquisition includes seven personal TelePresence endpoints – one for use by Student Health Services, two for Student Financial Services and another available for student advising and other uses. In addition, three MX300 endpoints will be used for strategic partnerships with other school districts.
For more information about the academic side of TelePresence at Minnesota State Mankato, contact Jude Higdon, assistant chief information officer of academic technology services, by phone at 507-389-1477 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bryan Schneider, assistant chief information officer & director of technical services,can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 507-389-5993.
For more information about the TelePresence system, visit Cisco’s website at http://www.cisco.com/web/telepresence/index.html.
Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, a system of 31 public colleges and universities with 54 campuses in 47 communities throughout the state of Minnesota.