The future has arrived at GW. Students who step into Room 201 in the Gelman Library can experience the TelePresence, a sophisticated communications system that takes teleconferencing to a whole different level.
“The TelePresence is the new medium for students to connect with people throughout the world,” says Kes Schroer, program associate of STEMworks, GW’s one-stop shop for developing quantitative and spatial reasoning skills. Cisco donated the TelePresence to STEMworks because of the company’s interest in supporting higher education pedagogy.
With a life-size, high-definition screen, the system offers students realistic interactions with people throughout the world. “When you are using the system as a teleconference system, it feels like you are in the room with the speaker,” says Schroer. “The cameras focus on whoever is speaking so even in a group of people, a student can have a one-on-one conversation with a presenter.”
STEMworks uses the system as a presentation screen for a variety of workshops and review sessions—which reached 500 students during the fall 2017 semester—on topics including coding, programming, and software development. “But the real vision is for students to use this to bring in outside speakers and connect with people differently from any other way on campus,” says Schroer. “When we show students what the TelePresence can do, every one of them squeals, gets excited, and starts dreaming about the people they are going to talk to using this.
“This system will enable any student who has a passion for exploration to pursue that,” Schroer adds. “We have a lot of invigorated and passionate students who have ideas and want to make connections. With this system and resources, we can help students succeed and keep their sense of excitement and discovery alive.”