Colleges and universities continually innovate to address the changing demands on them -- increased demand by millenials for virtual offerings, pressure to keep costs down, and the changing needs of the community for a skilled workforce. These demands combined with ongoing resource constraints -- limited budgets, classroom space and faculty resources -- consistently drive the need for new delivery methods. We have seen many universities expand offerings and reach with distance learning, online learning and most recently MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The most successful programs have proven to be hybrid offerings, where students receive face-to-face instruction or guidance in addition to their independent study.
This six-part series focuses on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States. Read parts 1 through 4 on the Cisco Education blog.
At Cisco we are seeing outstanding examples of change, some of which have been highlighted throughout this blog series. Others, unfortunately, are one-time interventions, and tend to be unsustainable. We’ve seen a number of video implementations, for example, that have gone nowhere because they were not part of a larger strategy or plan, and training and culture were never addressed. Across the country, outdated, disconnected video equipment lays scattered in classrooms, lecture halls, and IT departments. How can we ensure that these improvements can intrinsically change our higher education system in the United States, and across the globe? We strongly believe that technology can help in this area as well.
Scale can take place within a university and across university systems, especially when video technologies such as Cisco TelePresence are employed. This videoconferencing solution is easier to use, higher quality, and provides an immersive experience that rivals the one found in the classroom.
Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona is partnering with National Lambda Rail, a National Research and Education Network, to connect with universities and other higher education institutions to deliver joint classes. With just one teacher and Cisco TelePresence, PVUSD is now providing instruction to students at multiple schools simultaneously.
Duke University is using Cisco TelePresence to create a virtual lecture hall, and expand the reach of its MBA program beyond the shores of the U.S., thereby increasing access and generating new revenue streams. Now, their business school students can access professors, guest lecturers and business leaders from around the world. In this way, Duke is extending the in-person classroom environment across multiple campuses and into the business world.
Finally, Cisco recently announced WebEx Social, a new, enterprise collaboration platform that combines the power of social networking, content creation, and real-time communications and collaboration. We believe that WebEx Social has the power to drive the sustainable change required by higher education systems across the globe.
Along with Cisco TelePresence, Duke University uses WebEx Social to provide faculty, staff, and students with a single, unified platform to access learning management systems, student information systems, and other applications for academics, extracurricular activities, and career information. WebEx Social is also coupled with tools for voice and video collaboration within the same platform. As a result, the traditional experience is evolving into dynamic, group-based learning that is often taking place outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Our vision is that WebEx Social will be used by higher education systems worldwide to connect and collaborate, and share best practices, course content, resources and more, helping drive the scale required to transform the entire system. We believe that this tool is an agent for change, and will revolutionize the way in which higher education institutions deliver the business of education.
For today’sdigital generation, collaborative learning is no longer a novelty – it’s an expectation. Students are consuming information in new and different formats – video, Internet, virtual classrooms. These are all tools that are changing the face of education. To make this transformation a reality, students, faculty and administrators need to reliably connect with the people and resources they need whether they’re using their desktop or mobile device, at home or in the classroom.
For schools looking to take the plunge like Katy ISD, what’s the best approach to take?
As I discussed in this recent blog post about , the best approach is looking at the problem with the big picture in mind.
With Cisco Unified Workspace, schools can build a scalable and secure network that will serve as a strong foundation for the future. Watch the video below to see how Cisco’s solution is designed with utility to unify voice, video, data and secure access on any device and at any location.
Equipped with Cisco’s smart collaboration strategy schools can combine voice, video and mobility to create a classroom that allows faculty and students to collaborate efficiently and securely.
Budget cuts are costing many American students their arts education. As a wanna-be artist and overall proponent of all things creative, I have long valued the impact of arts education – especially in public schools. Unfortunately, these are the programs that are too often cut when budgets are slashed and difficult decisions must be made.
OK, so you probably won’t argue with me that art is important – after all, as children, it’s how we learned a lot of things, right? Who doesn’t have at least one thing they use a song to remember? I only have to key into the tune of ’3 blind mice’ to remember how to calculate the area of a circle (thanks to Mr. Bowlware, my fourth grade math teacher).
Studies show, too, that arts-engaged students show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers – especially in socially and economically disadvantaged student populations. This is exactly what makes programs like Fred Martin’s Urban Entertainment Institute (UEI) so valuable – and inspiring. Read More »
It has long been known that a combination of both formal and informal learning is an effective way of turning theory (explicit knowledge) into practice (tacit knowledge). This includes working and learning alongside more experienced people, both online and face-to-face.
The nature of learning is changing, and new learning technologies are proliferating. Additionally, there is compelling evidence that suggests many learners can benefit from alternative models and novel spaces for developing their skills and gaining further knowledge. Couple this with the increase in distance and virtual learning offerings—which offer little opportunity for face-to-face contact for both formal learning and networking—and a significant need for additional learner support begins to emerge.
This need is also being driven by our busy lifestyles: learners may not always have time to study at their chosen institution or study center; entrepreneurs and startups may need access to temporary experts and more formal learning opportunities; and learners and workers may need more than just online support from time to time. Sometimes learners want a place to study away from the distractions of home or work, or they may need an informal learning place to engage with peers and mentors.
“Learning hubs” may be the solution. Learning hubs are technology-enabled, flexible, formal and informal learning spaces designed to support learners of all ages. As opposed to study centers or traditional classrooms, learning hubs:
Are purpose-built to accommodate more than just tutorial instructions and seminars
Serve as a space for temporary or prearranged meetings and discussions with peers
Enable students to meet with experts and mentors virtually or to join a class remotely (from one or more hubs) via high-definition video-conferencing or telepresence facilities
Learning hubs can be located in Smart Work Centers, university and school campuses with spare real estate, community centers, and other places. Or, they can be “pop-up” hubs—physical spaces connected through high-end video-conferencing technology to enable city-to-city and multicity events—that meet specific, short-term needs. Dialogue Café is one example of a pop-up hub. Other types of hubs are shown in Figure 1.