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Educause: How Cisco is Supporting the Digital Transformation in Higher Education

As EDUCAUSE officially gets underway, I wanted to share with you some of the Cisco Education solutions for the Digital Campus and Digital Learning that we’re demonstrating at our booth. The Internet of Things is making it easier than ever for students and faculty to collaborate, improving schools’ efficiency and expanding education opportunities. We’re so excited about our portfolio of smart, network-centric solutions that are helping to transform classrooms and campuses across the country.

For example, we’ve got a whole host of tools used to create a digital campus – both in the classroom and beyond. Classrooms can use Cisco WebEx for remote or distance learning. Tools like SpeakerTrack, which is a dual-camera system used with a video solutions like Cisco TelePresence that allows participants in a video meeting to see the active speaker on the other end of a call in full view, make remote learning even more immersive and help give students the best possible educational experience. And Cisco Spark allows teams to send messages, video chat and share files all in one place, which enables instructors to work closely together and makes it even easier for students to collaborate on group projects.

Outside the classroom, Cisco has smart solutions to help campuses run efficiently, like smart lighting that helps colleges and universities save on energy costs and smart parking that helps campus parking lots run more smoothly. We also have solutions that focus on the safety and security of your campus. We’re demonstrating FireSIGHT here at EDUCAUSE, which helps identify many aspects of network visibility. This information can be used to automatically prioritize events, modify policy and block threats which save money and improve security.

Additionally, new digital solutions from Cisco partners make it easier than ever for colleges and universities to reap the benefits of collaboration in the classroom. VBrick’s Capture, Transform and Share tools allow instructors and students to maximize the benefits of video collaboration tools, allowing for on-demand viewing and easy editing and sharing. And with CirQlive, you can now easily integrate your Cisco WebEx with your learning management system to improve learning outcomes.

Other tools from our partners help improve campus security. For example, iOmnicient’s Facial Recognition solution can help keep students safe on campus and in dorms. The University of San Francisco is utilizing it right now to control access to their residence halls to keep the students who reside in them safe. Plus, the Splunk Cisco Security Suite can help security teams take full advantage of the information collected across their Cisco security devices and enables a single, comprehensive view for complete situational awareness.

All of these solutions are part of the ongoing digitization of higher education, using the Internet of Things to give administrators and instructors easy, efficient and cost-effective solutions to help them meet their goals: improving student outcomes, increasing efficiency, enhancing safety and security, and expanding research capabilities. If you’re at EDUCAUSE, make sure you stop by our booth, #1121, to see these Cisco Education solutions in action!

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Public Safety Series: EOCs Harness Video to Improve Emergency Response

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak with PoliceOne about how Cisco solutions are helping to improve public safety in an area most people aren’t aware of: emergency operations centers. Emergency operations centers, or EOCs, are the center of disaster response efforts, helping to coordinate the first responders and distribute information to decision-makers in a chaotic emergency situation. EOCs facilitate communication across agencies to allow for coordinated efforts. And in an emergency situation, which is hectic and can be confusing, the clear communication and up-to-date information an EOC providers is vital to helping mitigate the disaster.

Since speed, accuracy and collaboration are all crucial to an EOC’s mission, the centers are constantly investing in new technologies to help them improve in these areas. In more recent years, one of the most effective collaboration technologies EOCs have harnesses is video. Why video? Video improves data gathering, which leads to more increased situational awareness, which ultimately allows for a more coordinated response.

The types of video systems vary. Digital signage, for one example, can be used to display information such as television streams, maps or graphs on a large screen visible by all in the EOC. This type of video system also can function as a display for group videoconference that allows agencies on the local, state and federal level to coordinate quickly and clearly.

A video collaboration tool like Cisco WebEx enables users to share the information on their computer screen while engaging in desktop-quality video chat, and Cisco TelePresence allows for high-quality online face-to-face conferencing. Using these technologies helps build relationships and ensure communication is clearer, as body language can be interpreted and expressions shared.

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The Evolution and Impact of Collaboration Technologies

As I sit here on an airplane en-route to San Jose with my MacBook Pro at hand, heading to an industry-leading networking event (albeit on my own time, yes – this is officially vacation), I’ve found myself reflecting on collaboration technologies and how I’ve seen them evolve in the short 15 years I’ve been working with them. After all, it has become one of those things that I spend the majority of my day doing these days, working as a partner engineer specializing in Collaboration.

One of my first experiences with collaboration technologies was back during my third IT job, sometime circa 2001, only a few short years after the Cisco acquisition of Selsius networks brought the Call Manager product to us, and I was working for a company supporting what we now call ‘telepresence’; back then we simply referred to it as  ‘video conferencing’. These immersive environments (calling them ‘life-size’, as we did back then, seems kind of silly now) were not all that different from what you see today; projectors, nice furniture, and an executive meeting room experience. Read More »

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#HigherEdThursdays – Reinventing the Educational Experience Through Collaboration

The landscape in higher education continues to change. In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics showing that college enrollment declined for the first time in six years in the fall of 2012. (U.S. Census Bureau, 9/2013), and nearly half of Moody’s rated public and private universities were anticipating total enrollment declines in 2014 (Moody’s 2014 Industry Outlook, Nov. 25. 2013). Given some of these changes, colleges and universities across the nation are looking to technology to drive new and innovative initiatives to attract and retain students and faculty, to differentiate themselves from their peers, and to improve the educational experience.

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#HigherEdThursdays: Virtualizing Dual Enrollment

This time of year is always exciting – with students going off to college, coming home from college, graduating, switching majors and sometimes changing schools. It’s especially exciting when we hear stories like that of the 16 year old Florida student who received her college degree days ahead of her high school diploma.

Reading that success story this week reminded me of the importance of colleges and universities offering dual enrollment to high school students – and how technology can make it more accessible to more students.

One example that comes to mind is that of Coastal Bend College here in Texas. They are preparing their 3,700 students, from across four campuses, for jobs in the real world. They achieve this by providing hundreds of academic classes, as well as vocational and technical training. The College also partners with local high schools in order to provide dual-enrollment courses for students who are often rural and wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate. Read More »

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