LONDON, UK, November 25, 2009 – TANDBERG, the leading global provider of telepresence, high-definition video conferencing and mobile video products and services today announced that Shropshire Local Authority (LA) is one of the first in the UK to investigate and integrate the delivery of the Government's new Diploma qualifications (part of the wider 14-19 Agenda) using video conferencing.
The Agenda's changes to the curriculum have been designed to ensure that the choice of subjects are equally available to all learners regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic circumstances. This has created a challenge for schools to work together to deliver the much increased choice of qualifications; in rural areas the distance between institutions has exacerbated the problem. However, in Shropshire one of the solutions being explored to overcome this challenge is high definition video conferencing. This is now being used to connect students in 22 Shropshire secondary schools with staff from a wide variety of institutions, wherever they are located within the county.
Using a mix of TANDBERG endpoints, communication servers, a multipoint control unit, content server and Fieldview cameras, the Authority has tackled the practicalities of remote access to learning at every single school and is advanced in its planning to offer diplomas to all 14-19 year-olds via video.
Graham Moore, 14-19 Development Officer for Shropshire LA said: "Shropshire is a large, rural, sparsely populated county with no major cluster of schools. No single school or institution can deliver the full entitlement, which means that some students would have had to travel for up to four hours each day for the diploma of their choice. We were faced with either moving the students, moving the teachers or finding another solution altogether. By delivering classes over video we're offering real choice to the student community, without requiring young people to travel for additional hours each day.
"We chose TANDBERG's solutions because of the training and support provided through its specialist TANDBERG Teach network. In partnership with TANDBERG, our supplier, Direct Visual, has given the teachers the skills and confidence to succeed in using the technology. It's very important that the technology is seamless and doesn't distract from the lesson itself," added Graham Moore.
Local employers are also working with the schools involved to develop materials that will be practical in students' adult, working lives. "We already have numerous businesses in the county that come into our schools and contribute to the teaching of vocational subjects through demonstrations. Video conferencing will enable us to offer demonstrations that take place at the employer's premises to additional schools, which has obvious advantages for both deliverers and receivers," explained Graham Moore.
"We can also offer virtual field learning to students taking diplomas in subjects like engineering and construction, where ordinarily they would not have been able to physically visit for health and safety reasons," he added.
Government guidelines stipulate that under the 14-19 Agenda a choice of subjects and specialisations from the age of 14 across all four pathways of learning; Foundation Learning, GCSE/A Level, diploma and apprenticeships, should be equally available to all learners regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic circumstances.
"I question that the mass movement of learners is really sustainable and the true answer. While the Government's transport initiative is very well-intentioned, the harsh reality is that it is unlikely to have any dramatic impact on the provision of equal education opportunities for all students," commented Steve Woollett, Head of Public Sector Business, TANDBERG. "Video conferencing removes the barriers to subject choice and creates schools without walls; opening up new opportunities for some students where there once were none," concluded Woollett.
TANDBERG has trained its partners and selected those best suited for working with schools, children and young peoples' services and grids for learning around the country and created a new partner accreditation to help educators identify the right partner; the TANDBERG TEACH Program. For further information about the programme call +44 01784 274600 or visit www.tandberguk.co.uk.
TANDBERG is the leading global provider of telepresence, high-definition video conferencing and mobile video products and services. Dually headquartered in New York and Norway, TANDBERG designs, develops and markets systems and software for video, voice and data. The company provides sales, support and value-added services in over 90 countries and is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker TAA.OL. Visit www.tandberg.com for more information.
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