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Tech U: The World Is Our Campus

 
 

Companies, government agencies and universities alike recognize the importance of collaboration. In universities, exciting mixed-learning initiatives blend face-to-face classes with remote participation. Researchers relish teaming up with far-flung associates, leading to a rise in virtual research centers and "collaboratories" where educators in multiple time zones share data and pool resources for complex investigations. In fact, the National Science Foundation has launched a major initiative to support these activities via its Cyberinfrastructure-TEAM (Training, Education, Advancement and Mentoring) program. Forward-looking companies also are using Web conferencing to encourage employee interaction while cutting operating expenses. Universities that haven't yet embraced the technology should reconsider--Web conferencing applications are mature and include features from audio and video support to instant messaging and polling.

Tech University

We went back to school at universities nationwide and found cutting-edge networking, wireless, and security projects that businesses would do well to study.

Introduction: Tomorrow's IT Challenges Today
Network Infrastructure: Research on the Rails

Wireless: Compressed Air
Security: Taming the Masses
Messaging & Collaboration: The World Is Our Campus
Enterprise Apps: Sims on Steroids
Storage & Servers: The Real Big Apple

More than 40 products provide synchronous, Web-based collaboration for multiple groups but, of that number, only 14 met our criteria, which called for support for distributed group work and virtual teams; collaborative teaching and learning configurations; and the ability to run distributed seminars, research meetings, virtual labs and other activities to support geographically distributed teaching and research. We tested 10 of these products at our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®, with assistance from members of the Collaboratory on Technology Enhanced Learning Communities, or Cotelco.

Adobe Systems, Elluminate, Genesys Conferencing, Marratech, Microsoft, Pixion, Raindance Communications, Saba Software, WebEx Communications and WiredRed Software all accepted our challenge. CollabWorx, Linktivity and Cisco Systems never responded. Horizon Wimba declined to participate because Syracuse University has an Elluminate installation running in the Cotelco research lab, something Wimba saw as an unfair advantage. We're glad other vendors don't follow that logic--given the number of apps in our Syracuse Labs, we'd soon run out of products to test. Of the vendors that accepted, six provide in-house and ASP versions, while four--Raindance, Genesys, Microsoft and WebEx--offer only hosted models.

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