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American and Brazilian Students Collaborate via Virtual Classrooms

Four universities--two in the United States and two in Brazil--are testing inter-continental distance learning in a program facilitated by technology from Wimba. The U.S.-Brazil Consortium enables global collaboration among teachers and learners at The University of Georgia in Athens, Utah State University in Logan, Universidade Federal do Ceará and Universidade Estadual Paulista, Bauru.

The consortium is using Wimba Classroom, which provides a virtual classroom platform with audio, video, application sharing and content display.

Students in the program spend time in both countries over the span of three semesters plus one summer month, while also participating in distance learning courses.

The consortium is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the Brazilian Ministry of Education's Fundacao Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES). Through the program, instructional technology professors at all four universities teach courses to students on both continents using Wimba Classroom and other learning technologies.

"For the core, recurring distance classroom components of our program, we rely exclusively on Wimba Classroom to enable our continual collaboration," said Michael Orey, University of Georgia associate professor. "Wimba provides a vital part of our program and is truly making higher education more accessible to more students." Orey serves as principal investigator under the FIPSE/CAPES grant and teaches "Learning Theory, Introduction to Instructional Technology," and the doctoral seminar for the consortium.

"With the Wimba Classroom technology I can access the content anytime," said Daniel Maestro, a graduate student at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, Bauru. "It makes it possible for me to study, communicate and work on assignments any time of day and from any location."

Myra Blackmon, graduate student at U Georgia, is switching careers and pursuing a Masters degree in Education Technology while working. "I take all my collaboration classes in the evenings from my home office using Wimba Classroom," she said.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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