What is Telepresence?

Telepresence is a form of remote conferencing in which the participants appear to be physically present in the conference space. Body language cues like eye contact are easily transmitted and interpreted because of the fidelity, size, and position of the images. Several high-profile 3-dimensional demonstrations of the technology have taken place; for instance, CNN made extensive use of the technology during coverage of the 2008 US presidential election. Typically, 3D telepresence requires a specially configured space in which to capture a 360-degree image that can then be inserted into a virtual set, and viewed from any angle, but high-definition displays, seamless integration with software and data presentation, and full-surround audio make even 2D telepresence a very immersive experience.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Oct 30, 2011

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

This technology is very relevant to every academic level that uses distance learning to deliver online instruction. I will even go as far as to say that telepresence will redefine and transform distance education. Current definitions of distance education include some form of verbage that implies that a student is not physically present in a learning space. Well, add the notion of telepresence, and you may have to redefine this. For example, let's say you are taking a course in Second Life and your avatar and fellow classmates are engaged in a voice chat discussion. The learning space is of course, Second Life. Your avatar represents you, and you are in that space with others in real-time. Does this constitute distance?- melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Nov 17, 2011 - helga helga Nov 18, 2011
Telepresence holds a lot of potential for creating immersive environments, however the costs associated with creating specialized facilities to support this may be prohibitively high for some time to come. It is questionable whether the expense will be justified by the enhancement this brings to existing forms of videoconferencing.- billshewbridge billshewbridge Nov 19, 2011
  • Telepresence is an excellent venue for bringing in expert speakers from a distance, or a professor to a campus to offer a specific course that isn't available from a faculty at that institution. However, based on current telepresence set ups, it's hard to imagine much use beyond that. To participate you have to be present in a customized studio, which tends towards very very expense to build and bring up online. I actually see a lot more promise in high definition video conferencing from computers. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
Telepresence is relevant to education not only through its ability to provide high resolution, multi-person, multi-location interaction, it has the potential to becoming part of the physical learning space. Cisco has created an environment called the Active Collaboration Space originally created for GE now being prototyped at Case Western Reserve University. (See #4 for additional information) The idea behind the design is to create an immersive national/international collaborative environment designed for team members located in multiple locations to work together on developing innovative solutions to complex issues. - wshapiro wshapiro Nov 20, 2011
  • Telepresence offers more than a one-way potential for academic benefit. It is fully applicable in the higher education space in expanding the potential resources available programs by providing an access channel to expertise beyond the immediate geographical region. It also gives students and faculty a way to connect and collaborate on a global arena, and engage in activities at locations that are not physically accessible. - Dougdar Dougdar Nov 20, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I think low-cost/no-cost, ad-hoc video is where the action really is. - amichaelberman amichaelberman Nov 20, 2011
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

As mentioned above, I see this technology having a huge impact on redefining distance education, which in turn will affect distinctions, policies, etc. If telepresence is considered as a presence within a learning space, then for distance education programs that use immersive environments, but consider it "distance" will ultimately need to modify this definition.- melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Nov 17, 2011
  • Aside from allowing local instructors to interact with remote groups and facilitating speakers and instructors, telepresence offers faculty and students the opportunity to remotely participate in activities and research in ways never before available. The University of Delaware leverages the technology to participate in oceanic exploration and research through live data streaming with research vessels engaged in active expeditions (http://www.telepresenceoptions.com/2011/08/in_the_deep/). This gives both students and faculty direct access to the personnel, data and visual real-time, and the opportunity to gain valuable learning experiences from their participation and direct observations. - Dougdar Dougdar Nov 20, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Duke does a lot with telepresence. They use it to such a degree to even have staffing around it. http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2010/prod_021010.html - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Case Western Reserve University has installed a telepresence until in the office of International Affairs. This unit has been operational for about 3 months and is gaining popularity with faculty. More and more faculty travel yet the need to continue work on collaborative projects never ends. The quality of the telepresence experience has been exceptional.- wshapiro wshapiro Nov 20, 2011
  • Case is currently in the process of constructing the first higher education Active Collaboration Room (ACR) with located in the library which will be completed in January 2012. The room combines Cisco TelePresence with three high resolution cameras, voice activated microphones throughout the room, a whiteboard and projection system. Interactivity between the ACR and remote sites is highly interactive. Since this is a new installation experimentation is critical. For this reason an interdisciplinary, international collaboration learning community was formed who will work with their students spring semester to interact with students from Hong Kong, South Africa, Japan and other locations.- wshapiro wshapiro Nov 20, 2011
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