A FIRM in Elland providing videoconferencing equipment has signed a major deal to further develop a network linking thousands of students across Wales.
Direct Visual has joined forces with JANET (UK), the government-funded education and research network, to expand the Welsh Video Network, which has 160 studios in universities and colleges throughout the principality.
The contract involves an initial investment of £2.2m to provide new videoconferencing suites, lecture theatres and network infrastructure as well as portable and software-based videoconferencing systems.
Direct Visual chairman Mike Phillips said: “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 project, expected to run for the next three to five years, will pave the way for a time when the majority of educational establishments will adopt visual communications technology.
Tim Kidd, of JANET(UK), said: “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 to help with research projects and virtual field trips as well as guest lectures and teaching.
Said Mr Phillips: “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.”
Direct Visual, formed in 1996, has clients including The Boots Company, Nissan, Heinz and the Highways Agency.