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Wales Welcomes the Age of the Virtual Exchange Student

2008-02-08

February 08, 2008, Press Dispensary. Yorkshire based videoconferencing supplier Direct Visual (http://www.direct-visual.com) and JANET(UK), which manages and develops JANET, the UK’s education and research network, have signed a contract that will break down geographical barriers for thousands of further and higher education students across Wales.

The two organisations have secured a deal to build a video communications network that will reinforce Welsh educators as leaders in the use of videoconferencing for distance learning.

The contract, signed on January 31, 2008, will see an initial investment of £2.2 million in the Welsh Video Network, in the form of videoconferencing suites, lecture theatres and network infrastructure, together with portable and software based videoconferencing systems.

Mike Phillips, Direct Visual chairman, says: “This is one of the most complex videoconferencing projects that the UK has ever seen, designed to meet the geographical challenges facing education in Wales. With so many multi-site colleges, videoconferencing can cut down on travel time for teachers and bring groups of students at different locations face to face.”

The Welsh Video Network is one of the largest and most advanced internet based videoconferencing networks in Europe, with 160 studios scattered across all HE organisations and FE colleges in Wales. The project, expected to be ongoing for the next three to five years, will refresh 44 of the studios and pave the way for a time when the majority of educational establishments will adopt visual communications technology.

Tim Kidd from JANET(UK) says: “Direct Visual was chosen to partner JANET due to its proven experience and knowledge of the video communications industry, and its ability to deliver robust and reliable technology. Working together, we will ensure that the Welsh Video Network sets the standards for the rest of the UK to follow.”

Videoconferencing is being used in education for everything from research projects and virtual field trips to bringing in guest lecturers and virtual teaching.

Mike Phillips adds: “The visual element of videoconferencing can bring other cultures and communities into the classroom, and you don’t need to be a technical wizard to use today’s software. Our ‘transparent technology’ lets teachers and students forget about the ‘tools’ they are using and get the full benefit of being part of a networked learning community.”

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Notes for editors
About Direct Visual
Direct Visual, Based in Elland, West Yorkshire, is an independent supplier of videoconferencing and audiovisual equipment. The company, established in February 1996, has built a skilled and experienced team, with qualifications from manufacturers including Cisco Systems, TANDBERG, Polycom and Radvision. It has secured an impressive portfolio of customers including The Boots Company, Nissan, Heinz, The Highways Agency and The Disability Rights Commission.

About JANET
JANET is the network dedicated to the needs of education and research in the UK. It connects the UK's education and research organisations to each other, as well as to the rest of the world, through links to the global Internet.

JANET(UK) manages the operation and development of JANET on behalf of JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) for the UK Further and Higher Education Funding Councils and Research Councils. JANET(UK) is government funded, with the primary aim of providing and developing a network infrastructure that meets the needs of the education and research communities.

The Videoconferencing Services Project is a DfES-funded project, managed by JANET(UK), to project national-scale videoconferencing between schools networks via the JANET Interconnect.
www.ja.net

JANET® is a registered trademark of the Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales. The JNT Association is the registered user of these trademarks.

About Welsh Video Network (WVN)
The Welsh Video Network is one of the most advanced videoconferencing networks in the world. It involves the distribution and support of videoconferencing studios and other video facilities to all Further Education and Higher Education Institutions throughout Wales. The equipment is capable of operating via the H.320 (ISDN) and H.323 (IP) networks.
The project is managed by JANET(UK), under contract to the Welsh Assembly Government's Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). It is one of the largest UK projects involving collaboration between the Higher and Further Education sectors.
www.wvn.ac.uk

For further information, please contact:
Glen Sykes, technical services manager
Direct Visual
Tel: 01422 315240
Email:
Site: www.direct-visual.com
Shirley Wood, head of communications and support, JANET
Tel: 01235 822 251
Email:
Site: http://www.ja.net

Media contacts

Glen Sykes, technical services manager
Tel: 01422 315240
Email:
Site: www.direct-visual.com
Shirley Wood, head of communications and support, JANET
Tel: 01235 822 251
Email:
Site: http://www.ja.net

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