Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E.
Distinguished delegates and guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am extremely delighted to be invited to this historic event organized by Professor Alex Rivas of the University of Amazonas, the General Chairman of this workshop.
The dawn of the twenty-first century comes with a digital revolution and economic globalization with a New Economy.
The digital revolution started with the invention of digital computer and was fueled by the advent of personal computers in the past two decades. Internet, which is the convergence of computer and telecommunication technologies, is now becoming the main telecommunication media of tomorrow, accelerating the globalization of economies around the world.
The key principle of Internet is to SHARE valuable telecommunication media. This "sharing" principle is now being extended to the sharing of information and knowledge, and even sharing of joy, and hence creating egalitarian global society. In this sense, Internet will act as the effective tool for achieving ultimate democracy, i.e., participatory democracy, crumbling down all kinds of barriers, i.e, national, parochial, cultural, continental and oceanic.
The sharing of information and knowledge also establishes a global knowledge society where information, skills and competencies become the driving forces of social and economic development which will be based on creativity. The New Economy now burgeoning in the US totally depends on this creativity, which largely stems from youngsters' energetic motivation in an open and flexible society. This is to have them transform the world from the industrial age (where obedience predominated) to a knowledge age (where creativity and competence predominate). The world renowned economist, Joseph Shumpeter, once coined the word "Creative Destruction." Youngsters have to have courage to break their shell to emerge into their new life. Oldsters have to encourage youngsters to break their shells. This is the essence of teaching, because creativity is a prudent province of Homo sapiens.
It is this confluence of social, economic, and technological forces that create both opportunities and challenges for global society as a whole. The challenges associated with this transformation can no longer be solved with traditional educational paradigms. Old wineskin no longer works for new wine.
In addition to the fact that the sharing of Internet will bring cost reduction and productivity increase, asynchronous features of the Internet canalso be of benefit in access to the information and knowledge, by outreach to learners of all ages anywhere and anytime.
The Internet will rapidly create new opportunities for establishing international distance learning and global healthcare/telemedicine programs.
In this age, effective learning requires upgraded multimedia educational materials that can best be distributed using broadband Internet applications. Although the opportunities for international distance learning are great and with creativity flowering almost everywhere the Internet reaches, the global digital divide is also becoming a new dividing line between connectivity haves and connectivity have-nots. The use of global distance learning and telemedicine must be efficient and cost effective, enabling educational institutions that will allow us to foster global citizenship and achieve "education and healthcare for all" at anytime and anywhere. Education and healthcare are two basics of human development.
In October, 1998, Dr. Rivas invited me to conduct a "Global Lecture Hall (GLH)" multipoint-to-multipoint, multimedia, interactive videoconferencing from Manaus. This was at the occasion of the conference on "New Technologies and Distance Education." It was an extraordinary historical event with panelists located from Tokyo, Japan to Lviv, Ukraine, spanning almost 18 time zones.
The most significant finding at this event was the clear audio of NetMeeting videoconferencing on distance learning from Houston Community College via mere 56 Kbps Internet line. This was thanks to EMBRATEL's installing four of 34 Mbps digital satellite channels between the US and Brazil.
We then held a highly successful International Workshop and Conference on "Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning" in August, 1999 at the University of Tampere in Finland, with financial support from the World Bank, the US National Science Foundation, etc...
We formed a Global University System (GUS) with group activities in the major regions of the globe, i.e., Asia-Pacific, North, Central and South Americas, Europe and Africa to establish distance learning pilot projects. The GUS will harness the emerging technologies of high speed Internet connectivity among institutions of higher learning in developing countries to provide learners of all ages with global distance learning across national and cultural boundaries. The goal of GUS is to foster youngsters around the world for the Virtual State of the 21st Century with competition for excellence through affordable and accessible broadband Internet. A central theme is the integrated flow of knowledge among educational, research, industry and trade sectors. Inclusion of basic schools in the design would ensure the acquisition of this new learning culture at an early stage of education.
Dr. Tapio Varis of the University of Tampere, a former rector of the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica, accepted to be the Acting President of the GUS. Dr. Marco Antonio Dias, former director of Higher Education of UNESCO, also kindly accepted to serve as the Vice President for Administration. I became the Vice President for Technology and Coordination.
Each of those regional groups are now planning to hold mini-work hops to prepare for their large workshop similar to our Tampere event in the near future. They will formalize their pilot projects during the large workshop which will foster the establishment of GUS in their respective regions with the use of advanced global broadband wireless and satellite Internet which is to be financed by the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF). The pilot projects will be disseminated as "best practices" examples for the further development and deployment of effective international distance learning partnerships.
Thanks to Dr. Dias' introduction of UNAMAZ consortium of 77 universities in 8 Amazonian countries to Dr. Rivas, UNAMAZ officials kindly decided to pursue the proposed pilot project further, and Dr. Rivas organized this mini-workshop.
The success of this Manaus event will be the first example to other regional activities. This occasion will also secure close partnership between universities in Amazon areas and the universities of the Tennessee Virtual University System and in the US to ensure students' learnability. This partnership will become the educational exchange among them in the near future -- i.e., "the 21st century version of the Fulbright exchange program."
During this workshop, in addition to presentations of outstanding activities by many Brazilian colleagues, you will firstly witness exciting demonstrations of low cost teleconferencing technologies via narrow-band Internet for distance learning by Professor Roger Boston of Houston Community College. He has already prepared sophisticated web site for this event where you can obtain necessary software template free of charge to emulate his approach. He is a top notch expert in this field. Since he performed a similar demonstration during our Tampere event, he has been invited to China, Hawaii, and so on several times. I hope you will get acquainted with him as you may need to have his performance in your town in the future.
This evening, you will also participate in our telemedicine demonstration and videoconferencing. Thanks to generous arrangement of AMAZONSAT, these will be held in one of their conference rooms where there are necessary telecommunication lines and equipment.
The telemedicine demonstration will transmit the echocardiogram of a pseudo-patient at AMAZONSAT to the University of Michigan via 384 Kbps ISDN line for diagnosis. The 3D image of his heart will also be produced to examine its inside. The scanning of the echocardiogram can be done by a nurse, but its diagnosis requires expert doctors with several years' experience. High demand exists for the telemedicine in global scale. This demonstration will also show the value of high-speed telecommunication lines to open the eyes of decision-makers for their installation in remote/rural areas.
During the videoconferencing with Renaissance Center in the middle of farm land in Tennessee, you will see its new splendid planetarium, chemistry lab, multimedia video production facilities with advanced web technologies of walk-through, 3D rotation, panning, zoom-in and -out, etc. The highlight will be the view of space and universe with hi-fi sound and flashing laser beams in the planetarium.
In the following two days, we would like to brainstorm with you on (1) the deployment of domestic and international distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine in your localities and region with the use of currently available narrow-band Internet and ISDN, (2) the same via broad-band Internet when it will be available in the near future, and (3) to plan a joint fund raising for a large workshop in the near future at which time we can further brainstorm on the feasibility study for the broadband Internet, action plan, content development, and configuration of administrative structure, and business scheme, etc.
Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. We have a lot of things to do! Please enjoy this workshop.
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