Next Generation Collaboration

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I had the great privilege today to attend a seminar at HIT Lab NZ titled “Next Generation Collaboration over Advanced Networks”. Speakers included Prof. Tom Furness, the International Director of HIT Lab based in the University of Washington in Seattle, and Don Clark, CEO of REANNZ.

It was a fascinating day, looking specifically at what the future holds in terms of next generation collaboration tools that will eventually find their way into our every day experience. The photo at the top shows me participating in a grid video conferencing session, where each of the participants shows up as a separate window on the wall we were watching.

The photo below shows me trialling a recent development called a “portable grid VC station”, allowing an individual to participate fully in a grid VC session using three flat panel LCD monitors as shown. The total cost of this installation is at this stage $20,000 – which may be more than many schools can currently afford, but is exactly the same amount that many schools in NZ paid for the initial video conferencing kit to participate in the KAWM network just 6-7 years ago!

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Besides the grid video conferencing experiences, we were introduced to a variety of 3D immersive environments and forms of augmented reality, enabling us to participate in collaborative events which brought other participants into our midst virtually. The photo below shows Nathan Gardiner of HIT Lab NZ demonstrating the Access Grid and a range of applications that have been developed for use on the advanced network.

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One thing is for sure – the future is not what it used to be! These technologies, while still in their infancy, will certainly have a significant impact on how we conceive of and shape our learning environments over the next decade.

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