November 24, 2008

Innovative Use of Broadband Technology

The Associated Press published an interesting article, "Broadband makes tiny town an English-teaching hub," about how Eleutian Technology, LLC, a Ten Sleep, Wyoming-based company is using broadband technology "to help students enhance their English level so that they can talk whenever and wherever with people from English speaking countries." Eleutian's SpeakENG e-Learning program is using Skype's software to communicate for free through voice and video calls as well as instant messages. According to the article, "The company has close to 300 teachers hooked up to more than 15,000 students in Korea, and CEO Kent Holiday said he's just getting started."

According to Eleutian's website, "The SpeakENG program is a special interactive e-Learning program and delivers the same effect as communicating with the American teachers in person, throughout the duration of the program." The company employs state-qualified teachers to teach English language skills to its students and the e-Learning system is promoted as a bridge to break down the barrier between English-speaking and non-speaking countries. This is just one example of how a company located in a remote region is incorporating broadband technology into its business model.

Another example of utilizing broadband technology and Skype's services is through a project I created for B'nai B'rith International (BBI), an international Jewish service organization based in Washington, D.C. One of the many challenges community service organizations like BBI face is increasing its participation or membership base. Incorporating alternative methods of communication with members or program participants is one way to provide an added-value service to a nonprofit organization's mission.

Specifically, I proposed using Skype or a web conferencing service such as WebEx to hold informational seminars on topics of interest to a younger demographic audience. With offices located in Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva, Montevideo, Sydney and New York, BBI has access to real-time information that can be transmitted quickly to its members and financial supporters through online conferencing services. We live in a fast pace and constant changing global world and the value many nonprofit organizations provide may be quickly transmitting relevant information to its supporters. Using communication services through broadband technology is a free or low-cost option of outreaching and engaging an organization's supporters.

Another component of my BBI proposal is using web conferencing services to bring together members of the Board of Governors (Directors) and associated committees to discuss issues of importance to the organization. Given the increase costs of travel and the complexity of daily schedules, it is often difficult to travel long distances for meetings. Utilizing alternative communication methods will increase participation allowing people from different regions, within the United States and abroad, who offer a variety of innovative ideas to grow and sustain the organization. The private sector often utilize this technology in making important governance decisions and I am surprised and disappointed by the lack of foresight nonprofit organizations have in taking advantage of the same technology.

There are many innovative uses of broadband technology for business or organizational purposes and I invite you to share your experiences.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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