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Systematic Transformation: The Intersection with Technology in a Journey Toward the Future (Scaling Best Practices) – Part Five of Six

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.systematic-transformation 

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  Across the country, outdated, disconnected video equipment lays scattered in classrooms, lecture halls, and IT departments.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.

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Collaboration Patterns That Accelerate Your Business

This is my fourth blog in a multi-part series.  In my first blog, I introduced insights from Cisco’s Collaboration Work Practice Study and how people value collaboration in the work environment.  In my second blog, I discussed the importance of building trust-based relationships and networks to make collaboration work for you.  In my third blog, I share how you can turn human interactions into business results.  In today’s blog, I discuss patterns of collaborative behaviors and how to leverage them to better support collaborators.

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Collaboration can happen at anytime.  Some would describe it as chaotic.   But interestingly enough, through all the collaborative interactions we observed, we saw patterns in the “chaos” – patterns that did not just exist in organizational silos, nor were they simply associated with a job role or personality type.   Throughout the day, people play a variety of roles and experience different types and modes of collaboration.   They go from online to offline, in a virtual meeting to meeting over coffee, have an ad-hoc chat in the break-room and attend a global Cisco TelePresence meeting.

If we pay close attention to the behavior patterns of collaboration we can learn how to better support collaborators and create a more seamless experience. This is where process, technology and the physical and virtual workplace can complement the human behaviors that occur during collaboration.

Accelerating Collaboration through Catalysts and Connectors

“Not everyone is comfortable with collaborating virtually. [A catalyst’s] outreach encourages participation and makes the experience rich and meaningful.”   – Study Participant

In our study, we found that certain types of people play an essential role in not only Read More »

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Turning Human Interaction into Business Results

This is my third blog in a multi-part series.  In my first blog, I introduced insights from Cisco’s Collaboration Work Practice Study and how people value collaboration in the work environment.  In my second blog, I discussed the importance of building trust-based relationships and networks to make collaboration work for you.  In today’s blog, I share how you can turn these human interactions into business results. 

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Engage.  We use the word engage every day. It’s rich with meaning and covers a wide spectrum of relationships. We are engaged with our families, colleagues, and customers; engaged with an idea, a process, or an initiative.  And when engaged, people are passionate and committed.

At its core, collaboration is people interacting with people. In the global Cisco Collaboration Work Practice Study, employees told us that successful collaboration depends on encouraging natural human interaction, enabling participation and engagement, and fostering a collaborative culture.

“You really need to focus on the people aspect first. Get individuals to feel engaged and continue to be engaged. I think too many times we rely on the technology.” – Study Participant

In my previous blog, I discussed the importance of not losing sight of the “human element.”  Taking the time to build relationships leads to trust, which is fundamental for collaboration. To turn human interactions between collaborators into concrete results, companies must Read More »

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Anytime, Anywhere Efficiency

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As today’s workforce continues to become more mobile and adopt the “on-the-go” mentality both at home and at work, their needs are also evolving. Companies need to respond. Empowering employees to work anytime, anywhere will improve efficiencies and increase productivity. When the staff takes their work outside of office walls, an environment of knowledge, sharing and creativity across local, regional and global teams is created naturally. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a clear driver in this new collaborative environment as companies continue to connect more people, devices, processes and data.  This collaborative environment, in turn, also empowers a company as a whole through the insights and data exchanged.

In one of my previous posts, How Not Where Is What Matters Most in a Collaborative Work Environment, I noted that mobile and remote workers have higher performance ratings than traditional workers. Are these connections increasing the comfort level with utilizing remote resources on a consistent basis, such as remote mentoring or collaboration with global teams? Is it the extended connection to global colleagues and customers to obtain better insight and decisions? Or, is it the combination? Read More »

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A Perfect Collaboration According to the “Esquire Guy”

Collaboration is a verb, an action, it is something that we do.  People come together and collaborate to reach a common goal.  Often, people need to collaborate to determine what that goal is, then collaborate more to determine how best to reach that goal.  It is through effective communications that people collaborate. However, there’s more then just communications to collaboration.  In the following article the “Esquire Guy” attempts to answer the question  Read More »

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