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Education IT, Government, Technology

Australia launches "virtual meeting" services for higher education

Higher education institutions will gain access to high-definition virtual meeting services through a gateway that connects up to 90 participants at a single meeting.

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This service is supported by Australia’s peak Academic and Research Network (AARNet), a non-profit provider of internet services for higher education and the research community.

AARNet’s Telepresence Exchange will connect Swinburne University, Monash University and its Traralgon Hospital, Victoria University, the Australian Centre for Health Innovation and Melbourne University’s Institute for Broadband Enabled Society, among other institutions.

This exchange also connects to the National Lambda Rail (NLR) in the U.S. The NLR provides the test-bed for advanced research at over 280 universities and private and U.S. government laboratories.

The NLR network provides connectivity to 13 countries, including China, Canada and Australia.

The AARNet exchange will offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, providing high-resolution bandwidth for meetings of up to 96 participants.

Among recent apps, Swinburne University researchers and students are collaborating with colleagues at CSIRO Parkes Observatory via the exchange.

Colleagues across the five Swinburne campuses are holding “virtual meetings” to discuss policy and collaborate on submissions to government.

Victoria University will deliver specialist and remote courses, academic skills training, career advice and tutorials through this exchange.

A dozen telepresence systems are being deployed across the campus under a “Learning Spaces of the Future” initiative.

Melbourne University’s Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society facility is using the exchange to collaborate with industry, government and researchers on broadband applications and services for health, education and the community.

There is a growing demand for telepresence services as organisations seek solutions for collaborative education and research, according to AARNet’s CEO, Chris Hancock.

The exchange offers a forum for end-users to access telepresence services without investing in their own exchange hardware.

It will be exciting to witness how this new service will drive new collaborations and experiences across the higher education and research sector.”

This exchange removes geographic boundaries, while increasing collaboration between local and international research communities, notes Matthew Bailes, Pro Vice Chancellor of Research at Swinburne University.

“Swinburne University can utilise seamless telepresence experiences to enable distance education programs. We can now offer video-based lectures to students based in remote locations.”

The AARNet community brings together 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO. More than one million end-users access this educational service through member institutions and connected campuses.

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