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Inner-city Schools Concert Inspires, Engages Kids

The bright hot autumn sun burned down into Compton, California – right onto the shoulders of a busy nine year-old boy. The boy was respectful, working on hurrying up his chores for his mother so he could play ball with friends.  The boy eyed the last pile of leaves and thought “last one, then I’m done”. He heaved the rake over the pile and pulled back – and stiffened in shock as the rake revealed two automatic hand guns, still warm, hidden in the leaves.

To this day Fred Martin does not like leaves.  Buried under high piles of leaves are where the Compton gangs he grew up with hid their guns – at the safe house of “the Church family” – Fred’s family. The police never searched there; his father was a minister. Soon enough at ten years age Fred, a music prodigy, found himself playing organ in church on Sunday mornings – he later figured the music carried him away from the leaves.

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Connected Kids can be Safe Online

Let’s face it; today’s kids are more connected than ever before.  In fact, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children between the ages of 8-18 spend more than 7 ½ hours a day with those electronic devices, not including the hour and a half they spend texting, or the small amount (30 min) they actually talk on the cell phone.

And these kids are truly digital natives. To them, online access is ubiquitous and expected.  Internet access is everywhere and like oxygen  – they rely on it, crave it. Whether they tweet, text, update statuses, post pictures, chat and video chat, kids are using their devices to connect, to explore, to share, and yes, to learn.  In fact, a new study has shown that users of social networking sites (SNS) such as Twitter and Facebook, are better off socially, are more trusting of other people and are more civically engaged. Even in classrooms today, teachers have found that using technology has increased their student’s motivation, provided new outlets for student’s creativity, and helped the teachers become better organized. (Read more)

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Telepresence Fosters Real Learning Through Virtual Exposure to Science

Have you ever explored one of the first rockets to launch into space? You haven’t? Then what are you waiting for? Go to the New York Hall of Science!

Oh, you don’t live in New York. No problem, the museum will come to you through one of its Telepresence virtual tours.

With Cisco TelePresence, the Hall of Science takes remote visitors all around its museum floor. People in places like Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; St. Joseph, Michigan; Ontario, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico have gone to the Hall of Science to dissect cows’ eyes, learn about the phases of matter, and study the science of sports—and they haven’t set foot on an airplane.

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Next Generation Learning…Defined

As a former marketer, I’m a lover of phrases.  But I particularly love phrases that mean something and that help you to tell a story.  One of my favorites is “Next Generation Learning.”  At Cisco, it often takes the place of that formerly-beloved phrase, “21st Century Learning,” which became oh-so-passe after about seven or eight years into the new century.

The reason I like “Next Generation Learning” is because it describes the evolution of teaching and learning and implies a staying ahead of the curve mentality.  It also describes the next generation of students, namely Millennials, who are gracing our schools, colleges, and universities today with a vibrant outlook on life and an enthusiastic embracing of technology.

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Telepresence in the Classroom: Enhancing Breadth and Depth of Learning

When you hear the word “classroom”, do you think about four walls? Desks and chairs? Maybe you are old school and still imagine a green chalk board – well, those days are over, now it’s more likely to be an interactive whiteboard, right?

If your idea of a classroom is the traditional, you need to check out Charles County Public Schools in Southern Maryland. In 2010, the district introduced telepresence, installing three completely equipped rooms to service the community’s students and teachers. All of a sudden, the classrooms lost their walls, and prior geographic and instructional limitations ceased to restrict learning.

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