Release Date: April 8, 2015 Willa Black Vice-President, Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada, Willa Black is responsible for strategies designed to promote Cisco’s external brand relevance and transformational impact across key constituencies. She leads initiatives in support of corporate social responsibility (CSR), reinforcing the company’s role as an organization committed to social advancement, and building strategic partnerships with governments, nongovernmental organizations, and communities of all kinds with a focus on education and healthcare. Willa speaks with us on the Connected North initiative.
The Connected North program delivers immersive and interactive education and healthcare services to remote communities through high-definition two-way video communication and collaboration technology. The program represents an over $1.6 million investment by Cisco in Canada’s North.
A successful pilot phase in education was initiated in September 2013. Utilizing prioritized satellite bandwidth donated by SSi Micro, grade 6, 7 and 8 classrooms in Iqaluit’s AqsarniitIlinniarvik have been connected in real-time with teachers, experts and other students throughout Canada, for a more engaging, diverse and dynamic classroom experience. Additional schools including – the DehGah School in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat, Nunavut and Peter Pitseolak School in Cape Dorset, Nunavut – will be participating during the 2014-2015 school year.
Connected North was designed to showcase innovations in the field of learning with the aim of encouraging students to attend class regularly. The virtual education program utilizes Cisco TelePresence® and Partners In Research’s (PIR) successful VROC (Virtual Researcher on Call) platform. Students in Iqaluit are benefitting from directly engaging with subject matter experts brought into the classroom through two-way video, for interactive sessions lasting up to 1 hour. Students also connect with peers of the same age throughout Canada as part of the program’s Classroom Connect component, to share rich educational and cultural experiences.
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