Called the Global Campus Network, the project encourages a global collaborative approach among students with the help of a high-definition streaming technology built atop ORION’s high-speed fibre optic network that spans 6,000 across the province.
“I felt it sad we can’t get the wonderful content our students are producing out there, and that our students can’t collaborate with other wonderful universities around the world,” said Richard Grunberg, a professor at Toronto-based Ryerson University, to ComputerWorld Canada the day after accepting the ORION Learning Award on behalf of the team.
Basically, the Global Campus Network lets students do what broadcasters have been doing for years by dispersing content via satellite, except it offers the luxury of just a half-second delay. “It’s sort of like Skype but this technology hooks us up for intercom and HD both ways,” said Grunberg.
Receiving the award is a “real bonus” for the team and confirms that the efforts of all those involved are pointed in the right direction, said Grunberg, who was also the project lead.
The awards ceremony, which recognizes innovation in Ontario in technology, research and learning, named three other winners. A context-aware transport system in use in airports, trains stations and field security, built by Ryerson University’s Ubiquitous Computing Group, won the ORION Innovation Award. The PrAgMatic data management system for vineyard owners and managers, built by Niagara College, won for the ORION Discovery Award. And, Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech, an innovation hub in Waterloo, won the ORION Leadership Award.
Darin Graham, president and CEO of ORION, describes the fibre optic network as “a hidden backbone” that allows researchers a framework upon which to connect and innovate.
“It’s the spinal column that no one knows about,” said Graham.
But while Canada typically invests in research as a way to push technologies to market, Graham believes the better way to innovate is to identify the real needs of businesses and consumer groups and build technologies to meet that.
“So they pull the technology out of universities. Those are the successful ones. But we’ve been doing a lot of push,” said Graham.
That said, Graham believes Canada’s approach to innovation is changing to focus on supporting the needs of the end users.
As for the Global Campus Network, Grunberg said the next step is to broaden participation among universities and scale capacity in order to support them.
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