No More the Limits to Learning
Teachers from urban and rural Canada (Ottawa, |
Buckingham, Quebec, Kangiqsualujjuaq, northern
Quebec, St. Johns, NF., Gander, Lewisport, NF.,
Iqaluit) receiving technical training at the CRC
BADLAB for their participation in the Musicgrid project.
No More the Limits to LearningCA*net 4 Canada's Next Generation Network provides the key to breaking down barriers to human communication.
CA*net 4 is an R&D network that links researchers and educators across Canada to each other with a bandwidth of 10GB or better. It is operated by an organization called CANARIE (see: www.canarie.ca) and funded by Industry Canada. The purpose of the network is to provide a proving ground for the technologies, and the human processes that will eventually launch the use of a next-generation "super Internet."
John Spence is a researcher at Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) who uses CA*net 4 to devise solutions for real world communication problems and to find ways to share educational experiences over distance. John's collaborators include: Dr.Martin Brooks at NRC, educators all across Canada, and advanced networking specialists at CRC.
In a very simple example scenario, we joined John in his meeting lounge at CRC. Here he had an easy chair and a couch arranged in a comfortable fashion across from a large video screen. After we had settled in, he picked up a control unit and caused the large video display device to come to life. Soon there appeared a live full-sized image of Dr. Martin Brooks sitting in his National Research Council (NRC) office, located about 30 miles away, on the opposite side of the city. For about 15 minutes, we all sat and chatted comfortably about the collaboration between NRC and CRC on the Virtual Classroom project. The sensation of having a face-to-face meeting was almost complete. John pointed out that we could have had the same type of meeting if Dr. Brooks had been 1,000 miles away in Norway instead of just across the city of Ottawa.
CA*net 4 is an R&D network that links researchers and educators across Canada to each other with a bandwidth of 10GB or better. It is operated by an organization called CANARIE (see: www.canarie.ca) and funded by Industry Canada. The purpose of the network is to provide a proving ground for the technologies and the human processes that will eventually launch the use of a next-generation "Super Internet.
The challenges that John has created for himself and his team, go far beyond using CA*net 4 to help duplicate the feeling of a face-to-face business meeting.
In his VirtualClassroom activities, John coordinates the activities of teachers and students from all across Canada to share teaching and learning experiences around IP-based video conferencing. John says, "Our goal is not to just provide access to teachers at a distance, but to break down all barriers to learning, including distance, culture, diversity and age group."
John also works on MusicGrid, a project which includes the provision of music instruction carried out over CA*net 4. Through this project, students can access some of the very best instructors in the world, regardless of their location. In one project, a class of music students in Kangiqsualujjuaq, a remote village in northern Quebec, were given violin lessons by an instructor in Ottawa. The IP connection was made possible through satellite links provided by Telesat Canada. "Music instruction provides one of the best proving grounds for our methodology," says John. "The participants demand the highest authenticity of video and sound reproduction possible."
When asked what the future of the program might be, John explained, "The violin music program has already been expanded to include instruction in piano and choral singing. Dr Gilles Comeau, of the music faculty at the University of Ottawa, and Yamaha have partnered with MusicGrid to provide the digital piano instruction for the students in Kangiqsualujjuaq."
The results of John's work will impact future generations of students and teachers as they learn to maximize their ability to connect over distance using tomorrow's version of high-speed Internet. The potential impact for business communications is already clear and obvious. A face-to-face business meeting that could take up days of travel and thousands of dollars of expense to hold in person could be held over high-speed Internet, with only an hour or two invested on the part of each participant and with no travel costs incurred.
The CRC research being carried out around CA*net 4 is only one example taken from hundreds of other projects where Canadian researchers are developing applications for tomorrow's Internet.
For more information on the Virtual Classroom project, visit: www.crc.ca/virtualclassroom.