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Leading Universities Help in the Development of the New WebEx Social for Higher Education Offer

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.

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Community Colleges Leverage Collaboration to Increase Student Access

We’re seeing more and more how critical community colleges are to the success of so many Americans, young and old:  They’re providing a path back to work for the unemployed and offering the targeted training needed to succeed in specialized jobs—a benefit the Obama administration seeks to further with its Community College to Career initiative.

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.

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Taking a Strategic Approach to BYOD in Higher Education

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.

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Thrive in a Rapidly Changing World – The Next Generation of IT

Networking is predicted to become the second fastest growing occupation in the U.S., faster than the average for all occupations, and should continue to grow as we invest in new, quicker technology and mobile networks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for network administrators, network support specialists and computer network architects alone is projected to grow by more than 20 percent by 2018.

Here’s an infographic to show the industry’s growth, what the future of tech looks like and the skills that will be in demand. Read More »

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iPad Mini Launches – How will it and others impact education?

As we look seriously at connected learning, the influx of notebooks and mobile learning applications has been astounding. This week, in fact, Apple took over much of the news with the launch of its iPad Mini. In the previous weeks leading up to this launch, I heard and read discussions around education being a key target audience for this new iPad offering, which renewed my intrigue in the use of handheld devices & mobile learning.

Bloomberg discussed the rise in iPads being used in the classrooms due to its “cool factor” and ability to encourage students to learn by increasing engagement. More than 2,500 classrooms currently utilize iPads as learning tools, and this number is expected to increase with the continued growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Superintendent of the McAllen Independent School District in Texas was quoted saying, “We’re moving away from desktops and laptops. Ninety percent of the work is now being done on mobile devices.”

Think about that for a minute – ninety percent – wow. With mobile learning amongst Forbes recent list of Five Technologies to Watch, it is obviously only going to increase in momentum. In addition, the potential revolution in digital textbooks is primed to change the entire landscape. The jury is still out on when that revolution will take place, but it’s looking more and more like a reality.

Are you, or do you know, an educator who is formatting educational materials for mobile devices and planning learning activities that leverage multimedia, videoconferencing and other features of smart phones and tablets? Tell us your story! (and what you think of the new iPad mini)

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