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Videoconferencing Connects Students

September 17, 2013 | Telepresence Options

cisco telepresence education

Story and images by Diana Boehm / Cisco

Innovative technology connects students in Canada's North with National Arts Centre Orchestra musicians in Ottawa.

It�is�a beautiful�Saturday morning�in Nunavut as a group of�young�trumpet�players arrive for their music lesson.��There is no instructor waiting for them, unless you count high school music teacher, Mary Piercey. �Instead the room�in Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit�features one of Cisco's videoconferencing technology �units, TelePresence, that will make this lesson�possible.

cisco telepresence education

�Soon Karen Donnelly, principal trumpet player for the National Arts Centre Orchestra,�appears on the screen and�it's time for the private lesson to begin. �It makes no difference that Karen is hundreds of kilometres away in Ottawa;�the�technology is so good she may as�well be in the�sameroom.��

"Karen is fantastic�and really engages�the students," says Mary. �"The�kids�feel�relaxed."

That's music to the ears of everyone at the�National Arts Centre. �It's proof that ConneXXions North, a new initiative�that connects members of the NAC Orchestra with�music�students in Iqaluit through broadband videoconferencing,�using Cisco equipment,�is�making an impact.

"We have a mandate to support education in the performing arts," says Maurizio Ortolani, New Media Producer at�the NAC. �"One of the best ways�the NAC can deliver on that mandate�is�by supporting music programs across�Canada through�innovative technology. � ConneXXions North provides an opportunity for mentoring that otherwise�wouldn't be possible."

ConneXXions North, which will officially begin in September,�is the legacy of�the�NAC's�"Year of the North"�and the�Orchestra's Northern Tour. �In�2012, the Orchestra used technology to reach out to the students in advance of the�Tour. �They then connected in person during the�Tour, which made a lasting impression on members of the�Orchestra. �"Our musicians were emotionally moved by the connections they made with the kids�in the�North. �The�tour was�an eye-opening experience for them. �They learned just as much as they�taught," recalls Maurizio. �"Now�the musicians are jumping at the opportunity to engage with students through the ConneXXions North program."

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