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Learning Hubs: Where Learning Takes Place in a Digital World

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.  

 Figure 1.  Potential Learning Hub Locations.

Learning Hubs

Source: Cisco IBSG, 2013

A more detailed perspective from Cisco IBSG on learning hubs—including existing hubs and those in development—is available for download at “Learning Hubs: Where Learning Takes Place in a Digital World.”

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Transform the Way Your School Collaborates with New Service Models

After more than 15 years of working in the telecommunications and IT industries, I’ve seen firsthand how people use technology to make a difference and change lives. While there are innovative uses of technology across all industries, nothing continues to impress me more than how collaboration technologies are reinventing education.

As we’ve seen time and time again technologies like video and mobile devices are enhancing 21st century learning. But no matter what technology schools and educators are using, the delivery of services matters. Thanks to the cloud, schools can deploy advanced collaboration technologies with increased financial and operational flexibility.

With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), organizations can implement unified communication applications while saving money by switching from a capital expenditure model to an operational expenditure model. The flexibility of the cloud enables customers to accelerate rollouts, improve business agility, lower maintenance and utility costs all while continuously delivering services.

Take for example Perspectives Charter Schools, which serves more than 2,300 students across several Chicago communities. When Perspectives Charter Schools made the shift from an on-premise unified communications system to a cloud collaboration solution they lowered monthly costs, simplified system maintenance and improved administrative efficiency. With Cisco HCS, Perspectives’ monthly bill is now 25 percent less than their previous monthly costs for phone lines, maintenance, software support contracts and repairs. But while the total cost of ownership for communications has dropped, the quality of services hasn’t. The schools have added new collaboration capabilities such as voicemail-to-email and single number reach help make staff members more accessible.

And they’re not the only ones…

Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina made the same shift from on-premise to the cloud for voice services and experienced much of the same benefits. With Cisco HCS they’ve lowered the overall cost of their voice system by eliminated the need for one connection for each school and freeing up the IT team. Not only are they saving money, they are also increasing collaboration. The switch to the cloud gave students and faculty access to more advanced collaboration capabilities such as video and instant messaging.

Alamance-Burlington School System and Perspectives Charter Schools’ use of Cisco HCS are classic examples of doing more with less. Powered by the cloud they can both deliver the advantages of Cisco’s collaboration solutions with the financial, operational and strategic benefits associated with the cloud.

Is your school ready to start benefiting from the cloud?

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Take the Lead on Learning with BYOD and Mobile Devices in K-12 Classrooms

Open up access to enhanced teaching and learning resources utilizing BYOD with Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education.  

McAllen Independent School District (ISD) is a great example of a school district utilizing Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education.  With nearly 3300 employees and over 25,000 students in 33 campuses, McAllen ISD was challenged with a slow server and an overtaxed network. The bandwidth limitations and made it extremely difficult for the school to embrace the BYOD trend, let alone creating an enriched learning environment leveraging mobile devices. 

McAllen ISD chose Cisco to help with the initial steps upgrading their network to enterprise-class with Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education.

With a pervasive, scalable and reliable wireless network, the school can now provide affordable mobile devices for a 1:1 learning experience to their students.

See how, after selecting and deploying Cisco’s BYOD Solutions for K12, McAllen ISD achieved anytime access and a greatly improved, learner-centric environment. Students can now utilize mobile devices anywhere on campus with wired-network speeds and performance.    Educators have enrolled into the Teacher Cadre Advocates Initiative program to discuss several innovative new methods of educating their students going forward.  Learning continues well beyond the classroom and can be accessed anywhere, anytime on campus with Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education.

Technology will continue to transform education as an experience for both students and educators alike.  Learn more about Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education.

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Delivering the Keynote at the World Swiss eLearning Conference: Empowering Knowledge That Creates Business Outcomes

On April 10th I had the privilege to deliver, via TelePresence, the keynote address for the Swiss eLearning Conference 2013 (SeLC) in Zurich. Aimed at the Swiss professional learning community, the event was themed “Educate Your Customer” with a focus on e-learning, online training and augmented reality.  I enjoy engaging with forward-thinking educators who share my passion for creating new paths to learning.Swiss-eLearning-Conference

In my keynote, I described Learning@Cisco’s innovative approach to creating the next generation of IT talent.  The fact is that the industry is experiencing an IT networking skills gap at the very same time the world is approaching the Internet of Everything and the prospect of 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. 

To help bridge this divide, Cisco has pioneered the use of virtual classrooms, social networking, games, and other resources to democratize learning via our social learning network.  We bring together groups and individuals across the globe to learn from each other about IT networking in ways that augment traditional classrooms. Our goal is to remove barriers to learning and assist our partners and customers with developing the right networking talent to run their businesses.

To learn more, please watch the full presentation here, view the slide deck I shared during the conference, or visit the Cisco Learning Network.

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Elevating the Learning Experience through Mobile Collaboration

It’s no secret that new technologies are changing the way students learn. The modern classroom is no longer confined to a physical space and students have access to greater educational opportunities than ever before.

Much like video has created new models for learning; mobile video collaboration is extending the boundaries of education even more. Imagine a school where students can instant message a professor from their tablet with an urgent question about tomorrow’s test and get an immediate response, or where a student athlete headed to a competition can join a lecture from their own personal mobile device. By overcoming space and time challenges, students and faculty can connect to the people and resources they need from wherever they are. No longer is education confined to the walls of the classroom. Read More »

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