Collaborative learning was on display this week at Educause 2012 in Denver. As colleges and universities are embracing technology to enable more dynamic teaching and learning, inside and outside of the classroom, it is clear that the “stale, passive lecture model” is transforming to a collaborative model of instruction.
A just published eCampus News special report on collaborative learning details how universities such as Duke, San Jose State University, Case Western, and West Texas A&M are embracing video, flipped learning and social collaboration platforms, like Cisco’s recently announced WebEx Social for Higher Education, to help faculty and students interact “in much richer ways’.
We talk with a lot of higher education leaders, a lot of the time. Whether public or private, large or small, research-oriented or not, they consistently share how difficult it is to effect change within their institutions. And yet, they know they must change to keep up with the demand from students and now from faculty members, for new ways to deliver learning. Given pressing budget challenges, they are under even great pressure to do more with less.
When discussing technology changes necessary to stay ahead of the curve, our IT leaders express frustration that their academic counterparts don’t understand technology. Our academic leaders focus on their own frustrations that IT doesn’t understand their problems, or namely, the requirements to deliver effective teaching and learning.
Technology is changing our lives at an incredibly rapid pace. Yet, a great deal of work remains in providing colleges and universities the collaboration tools they need to drive greater levels of knowledge sharing and innovation. That’s why we have worked closely with a number of leading higher education institutions, including Duke, North Carolina State, Case Western and the University of Chicago, to develop the new WebEx Social for Higher Education offer – being announced today at the annual EDUCAUSE conference. This people-centric, cloud collaboration platform helps unify the education workspace and provides a truly connected learning experience, not only for students, but for the entire ecosystem, including faculty, staff and administrators.
With WebEx Social for Higher Education, users can quickly find subject matter experts, gather feedback from groups, collaborate on documents and locate relevant content and communities to help complete assignments and projects much more efficiently. It engages students the way they want to be engaged – from anywhere and on any device (including iPad and iPhone), making information accessible to a broader audience to expand teaching and learning opportunities.
In a time of deeper and deeper cuts to education budgets, keeping community colleges afloat can prove challenging, but it’s a problem for which technology can provide one possible solution. The fiscal crisis has colleges experimenting with collaborative and virtual efforts to increase access to courses, as online education and mobile learning not only expands community colleges’ reaches, but also saves them money. Through one-time investments in equipment like telepresence endpoints, community colleges can set themselves up to offer increasingly desirable distance learning options for years to come. And, by embracing popular trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), community colleges can also configure their networks to support mass wireless connectivity and virtual access, mobilizing their academic offerings and making them more attractive to potential students.
In a recent survey of college students and young professionals, 40 percent said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.
To meet the needs of their students and faculty, most colleges and universities have employed a BYOD strategy on some level for years. However, the evolving expectations of flexibility and freedom of access present new challenges and opportunities for higher education institutions and their IT departments. The proliferation of mobile devices and the exponential increase in traffic from video and other rich media applications will place ever-increasing demands on a university’s network infrastructure. Universities not only need to support the requirements of today; they need to anticipate and plan for future requirements so they can scale the network in a prudent and cost-effective way.
Click on the video below to watch my VLOG on Taking a Strategic Approach to BYOD.