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Using E-Rate to lead a Digital Transformation in Education

For many businesses, technology has become an integral part of operations, transforming the way people learn, think, and do their jobs. With the right tools, K-12 school districts can experience these same transformational benefits. Digital transformation in education means using technology to create better access to educational experiences for students. That can be using mobile solutions to allow students to access anytime, anywhere learning in a secure way. Or it could be using collaboration tools to create a shared learning environment, or data analytics to help teachers fill in gaps in students’ skills and knowledge.

While the benefits of digital transformation for students are vast, one of the biggest hurdles schools face in their quest for transformation is funding. It requires a significant investment to ensure network infrastructure is adequate, to purchase technology tools for students and teachers, and to train educators on how to best use the new technologies in the classroom.

Schools facing this hurdle should consider leveraging the E-rate Program. USAC just announced that the window for filing E-rate applications for Funding Year 2016 will open on February 3, 2016. The window will close 87 days later on April 29. If your school meets the criteria for the program, you can save anywhere from 20 to 90 percent on eligible services. These discounts can ease the financial burden of upgrading network infrastructure and put schools on the path to a successful digital transformation. To learn more about digital transformation in education and how the E-rate Program can help, check out this special report from Cisco and eSchool News.

On Tuesday, February 9, Cisco will host a webcast on E-rate and the digital transformation. The webcast will feature Scott Smith, the CTO of Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, and John Harrington, CEO, Funds for Learning. Scott will discuss how their all-digital curriculum has led to more personalized, student-centric, and data-driven approaches. John will provide a briefing on current status of the E-Rate program—including procurement best practices and current filing deadlines. To register for the webcast, click here.

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From Career Connection to Collaborative Knowledge: How Cisco Built a New Breed of Knowledge, Learning, and Productivity Solution

In Part 1 of this blog post, I described the circumstances that led to the creation and roll out of the Career Connection pilot and the formation of the Cisco Collaborative Knowledge digital workplace platform. Now I want to share more about the evolution of how all of this transpired.

Career Connection, as you may recall, is a learning platform for Cisco Service employees. It was developed after months of employee engagement, user testing, surveys, interviews, and executive input. The Career Connection platform offered employees a new way to collaborate and learn:

  • The Learning Plan provided an overview of learning opportunities scheduled by the employee and their manager, as well as an overview of progress toward learning goals.
  • Community offered social learning opportunities among employees and experts.
  • The Training Catalog offered a single portal through which employees could access training courses to support reskilling and upskilling.
  • Career Universe presented Career Playbooks, organized by job category or job family. These playbooks were created by management teams to provide employees with tracks they could follow to meet requirements for jobs they wanted to attain.

These technologies represented key foundational capabilities — knowledge sharing, formal and social learning – critical to the creation of Cisco Collaborative Knowledge. The proof-of-concept pilot for Career Connection went live in 2014, and it proved to be a breakthrough for Cisco Services, which until that time, relied heavily on formal learning programs. Once employees took to the solution, employees and managers benefited in a myriad of ways.

Career Connection as a learning and knowledge sharing solution, surpassed expectations for reskilling and up-skilling the workforce. Employees embraced the technology, too. Here’s how they responded:

  • 89 percent agreed or strongly agreed that learning from leaders via blogs about strategic direction and career development was important to how they create their own development path.
  • 76 percent agreed or strongly agreed that being able to share information through discussion forums was important to their professional development.
  • 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed that visibility into information for all jobs (Career Universe) helped them plan their career goals.
  • 79 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the intent and mission of the platform. Moreover, employees felt engaged on important business topics and empowered to share professional knowledge.

With such positive feedback to Career Connection, Learning@Cisco executives began asking: Could Cisco customers benefit from a similar platform to transform their own companies? To determine if there was an unmet need in the marketplace, Learning@Cisco connected with hundreds of customers to discuss their challenges and potential learning opportunities.

Armed with customer feedback, and the proof-of-concept pilot validated by more than 14,000 Cisco Services employees, Career Connection evolved from an internal learning offering into a fully integrated, cloud-based knowledge and learning digital workplace solution appropriately named Cisco Collaborative Knowledge.

To learn more about Cisco Collaborative Knowledge, visit our the Cisco Collaborative Knowledge site.

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Creating a New Skills Framework for the Digital Economy

In today’s hyper-connected economy, every company is a digital business. Technology professionals play an integral role in driving business outcomes, and that requires a new skills framework. There are new demands for IT expertise in a changing technology environment. For the individual, rapid change is driving the need for continuous skills refresh. For the enterprise, technology expertise must link to business outcomes. For the industry, a new skills framework is needed to develop cross-technology and cross-functional leaders.

The IT jobs of the future are being defined now, but many organizations and individuals are being left in the lurch. In fact, a report from the MIT Center for Digital Business Research found that nearly 80 percent of companies consider missing digital skills to be the key hurdle to digital business transformation.

To overcome this hurdle and stay ahead of disruption, a broader perspective is required – one that goes beyond the traditional infrastructure model. It’s a view not limited to just a network topology or architecture discussion, but rather, one that looks to the opportunities made available through evolving technologies. Additionally, organizations must be able to use these emerging technology trends to drive business outcomes.

Raising the Bar

That’s why Cisco is evolving its certification program to ensure that candidates are prepared for new and changing job roles that unfold with emerging technologies.

Core technology expertise is essential, of course, but practical IT expertise in a single, siloed technology area is no longer a differentiator. IT professionals also must have a clear understanding of the evolving and disruptive technologies that are fueling innovation.

With this evolution of the career certification program, Cisco is ensuring IT professionals are equipped with the skills and education needed for evolving technologies such as Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and network programmability. Read More »

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The Importance of Security Skills in Today’s Workplace

Information technology and its use have transformed every aspect of society. In today’s digital economy, every company requires effective security to protect their information. Security breaches mean lost intellectual property, compromised customer information, and reduced customer confidence. These are critical considerations as organizations become more agile and try to grow their business models to leverage evolving trends of mobility, cloud and digitization.

The number of connected devices alone is expected to grow to 50 billion sensors, objects, and other connected “things” by the year 2020. With this, the number and type of attack vectors will increase, as will the amount of data, creating a daunting challenge for companies and those responsible for defending the infrastructure.

Cybersecurity has expanded from just focusing on building secure technology perimeters, to now also working with business management to reduce security risks – as well as detecting, responding to, investigating and handling security events when they occur. As a result, security is not a point-in-time component, but rather, it must be a part of every deployment, every development and every decision.

Read More »

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Thank You to Our Veterans

Veterans, Thank you.

Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for the sacrifices you make for all of us. And thank you for our freedoms.

With all of you, past and present, we have an amazing country in which to live, liberties many others do not experience, and the opportunities many others are not afforded. You’ve made this great country possible from those that dreamed what it could be.

As a National Honoring, every November 11th at exactly 11am, a color guard comprised of a member from each of the military branches, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery salutes and honors our Veterans. It’s a beautiful ceremony and true dedication to our Veterans.

So today, I ask that we all take the 11 o’clock hour and stop checking off our ‘to do list’, hang up the phone, put down our computer and honor, thank, and support our Veterans any way you can.

It does not have to be big; the littlest of gestures often have a far greater impact. Buy a cup of coffee for a Veteran. Walk over to your fellow co-worker who happens to be a Veteran and thank them for their service. Maybe find a veteran cause such as Wounded Warriors or Operation HomeFront and make a donation.

And while I know many of you already keep our service men and women in mind and honor them daily, today is their day, like a birthday, so let’s make it special.

As a company, supporting Veterans is a key priority of our culture and employees. We are involved in and have many wonderful programs that focus on supporting our Veterans.

This November 19th (November 13th in San Jose), we are hosting a Veterans Career Transitioning Day across various Cisco locations: San Jose, CA, San Antonio, TX, Research Triangle Park, NC, Englewood, CO, and Washington DC. Local employee groups and some of our supporting Partners are holding this event to provide Veterans with information and resources to help them transition from service into civilian life.

Please join us for this amazing event in supporting our Veterans: Veterans Career Transitioning Day.

Thank you again to all of America’s Veterans.

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