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May 03, 2012

Western Kentucky University Selects Polycom's Video System for Offering Remote Video Classes

By Narayan Bhat
TMCnet Contributor

Unified communications (UC) solutions vendor, Polycom (News - Alert) Inc. has delivered its RealPresence video system to Western Kentucky University so that it can link up to its students living in remote areas through video conferencing.

The video system, which is supported by telecom giant BT (News - Alert), enables students in smaller cities and remote countryside to earn a degree from WKU without the need of commuting to the university campus.

The University holds more than 100 remote video classes in a week, with as many as 60 students participating.

Each year, remote video classes save WKU students an estimated 5 million miles of driving and nearly $1 million in fuel costs, according to the university.

Not only the commuting cost, the University says its program alone prevents 780,288 kg of CO2 from being emitted into the environment – equivalent of keeping 150 passenger cars off the road for a year.

These remote video classes, the University believes, can help give rise to new breed of entrepreneurs who may later act as economic engines in their hometowns.

Remote video classes are held in five region centers as well as University’s main campus in Bowling Green. Courses range from core undergraduate through Master’s level courses to advanced studies aimed at doctoral candidates. For many students, video offers the opportunity to take classes that aren’t available in person at their regional campus.

“Many of our students have jobs and families, so they can’t come to Bowling Green and live in a residence hall,” said Tamela Smith, WKU’s Interim Director of Communication Technologies. “Without this service, it would be more challenging for students to obtain their education.”

If a student in Cecilia, a small town 90 minutes north of Bowling Green, wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in health sciences all he or she needs to do is drive 10 minutes to WKU’s Elizabethtown campus to take video classes.

“Just by attending one class, these students can lose half a day at least,” said Smith. “Now they can take just a couple hours off work and still pick their kids up from school. It makes going to college more feasible for more people.”

According to a conservative estimation, during the course of one semester, a student at these remote video classes saves about 48 hours of travel time and $340 on gas.

 For each student based in Owensboro and Elizabethtown (70 and 75 miles away, respectively), taking a video class saves 4,480 miles of driving and more than $800 in gas costs per semester.

They collectively would save more than 37,000 hours of travel time, 2.5 million miles of driving, and more than $450,000 in gas per semester, says the University.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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