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Concert Connects Students, Celebrities on Virtual Stage

May 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm PST

Budget cuts are costing many American students their arts education. As a wanna-be artist and overall proponent of all things creative, I have long valued the impact of arts education – especially in public schools. Unfortunately, these are the programs that are too often cut when budgets are slashed and difficult decisions must be made.

OK, so you probably won’t argue with me that art is important – after all, as children, it’s how we learned a lot of things, right? Who doesn’t have at least one thing they use a song to remember? I only have to key into the tune of ’3 blind mice’ to remember how to calculate the area of a circle (thanks to Mr. Bowlware, my fourth grade math teacher).

LAUSD students participate in BridgingGapsconcert

Studies show, too, that arts-engaged students show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers – especially in socially and economically disadvantaged student populations. This is exactly what makes programs like Fred Martin’s Urban Entertainment Institute (UEI) so valuable – and inspiring. Read More »

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Accelerating Your Success with Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions

Earlier today, Cisco introduced an expanded portfolio of desktop virtualization solution architectures, based on Cisco UCS, that extend Cisco’s value proposition, solution breadth and market reach.  This is very important for our partner ecosystem, which continues to be the foundation for selling Cisco’s Desktop Virtualization Solutions.

Desktop virtualization continues to gain traction.  According to a recent Gartner forecast, companies are projected to add 59 million more virtual desktop users worldwide between 2013 and 2016. Despite that growth, we found that significant challenges remain for getting VDI implementations off the ground.  These include:

  • Up-front CAPEX often associated with upgrading the data center and network infrastructure required to support VDI
  • Complexity associated with combining multiple disparate technologies together in a way that’s cohesive and easy to manage
  • Guesswork and risk associated with ensuring that the success seen in a small pilot is replicated in larger production environments

Read More »

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Learning Hubs: Where Learning Takes Place in a Digital World

It has long been known that a combination of both formal and informal learning is an effective way of turning theory (explicit knowledge) into practice (tacit knowledge). This includes working and learning alongside more experienced people, both online and face-to-face.

The nature of learning is changing, and new learning technologies are proliferating. Additionally, there is compelling evidence that suggests many learners can benefit from alternative models and novel spaces for developing their skills and gaining further knowledge. Couple this with the increase in distance and virtual learning offerings—which offer little opportunity for face-to-face contact for both formal learning and networking—and a significant need for additional learner support begins to emerge.

This need is also being driven by our busy lifestyles: learners may not always have time to study at their chosen institution or study center; entrepreneurs and startups may need access to temporary experts and more formal learning opportunities; and learners and workers may need more than just online support from time to time. Sometimes learners want a place to study away from the distractions of home or work, or they may need an informal learning place to engage with peers and mentors.

Learning hubs” may be the solution. Learning hubs are technology-enabled, flexible, formal and informal learning spaces designed to support learners of all ages. As opposed to study centers or traditional classrooms, learning hubs:

  • Are purpose-built to accommodate more than just tutorial instructions and seminars 
  • Serve as a space for temporary or prearranged meetings and discussions with peers
  • Enable students to meet with experts and mentors virtually or to join a class remotely (from one or more hubs) via high-definition video-conferencing or telepresence facilities

Learning hubs can be located in Smart Work Centers, university and school campuses with spare real estate, community centers, and other places. Or, they can be “pop-up” hubs—physical spaces connected through high-end video-conferencing technology to enable city-to-city and multicity events—that meet specific, short-term needs. Dialogue Café is one example of a pop-up hub. Other types of hubs are shown in Figure 1.  

 Figure 1.  Potential Learning Hub Locations.

Learning Hubs

Source: Cisco IBSG, 2013

A more detailed perspective from Cisco IBSG on learning hubs—including existing hubs and those in development—is available for download at “Learning Hubs: Where Learning Takes Place in a Digital World.”

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The Swisscom Story: “Cisco Services Always Listened to Us”

May 13, 2013 at 7:00 am PST

By Adrian Flückiger, Head of Cloud Infrastructure Services – Corporate Business, SwisscomAdrianFluckiger

 

At Swisscom, we’ve encountered a challenge that should be familiar to telcoms everywhere. As more of our customers shift from landlines to mobile devices, and as the mobile market becomes more competitive and complex, we’re finding it necessary to create new revenue streams by offering a broader range of services. Two years ago, we confronted that challenge head-on with the introduction of a comprehensive cloud offering—our Dynamic Computing Service.

We developed our own customer-facing portal for this cloud offering, but we ran into serious limitations almost right away. The billing and fulfillment processes were insufficiently automated, and customers had very little transparency into the management of their cloud data. The simple fact is this: by attempting to create our own cloud infrastructure with no external assistance, we were stealing focus from our own areas of specialization. We needed a vendor with deep experience in deploying and optimizing cloud solutions. So we asked Cisco and two other top cloud vendors to engage in an intensive proof-of-concept to demonstrate their capabilities.

We assumed that some of our use cases would be too challenging for an external vendor, but Cisco proved otherwise. They delivered a truly dynamic, customizable solution to meet our complex needs. The result? We now offer a standardized catalog of 26 different cloud-based services, all managed through Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) software.

The key to the whole solution is the level of customization provided by Cisco Services. With their help, we’ve automated some of our most time-consuming processes, and we’ve gained greater visibility across the enterprise from a single portal. We can now provision servers in minutes rather than weeks. We can also offer our customers more flexible billing options, billing them on a day-to-day basis rather than monthly or quarterly. That level of flexibility and value is a major differentiator for us, because it really highlights both the quality and affordability of our services.

For me, the best thing about this whole process is that Cisco Services always listened to us. They were open to input. We learned a lot from each other, which is exactly as it should be.

To find out more about how Swisscom worked with Cisco Services to reduce costs while achieving greater agility, read the case study

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Public Safety in K-12 and the Wi-Fi Network

It’s no surprise that student safety is the upmost priority to educators, administration, and parents. I would know because I have two daughters in K-12. The topic of safety in K-12 schools strikes particularly close to home since one of my daughters has already been in a lockdown due to police activity in the area.   A lockdown is where children are placed in the corners of the classrooms, away from windows and clear from the classroom door windows: lights off, doors locked, and no chatter.  My daughter took it in stride since she thought it was a game. I, on the other hand, was extremely uneasy when I received the email bearing the news and was not relieved until I received the “clear” email notification.

Given some of the latest developments that Cisco has been working on with location-based analytics using wireless technologies, it didn’t take long for us to start talking about how Wi-Fi could be used to help in the case of public safety in K-12 schools.  The intersection of K-12 public safety and Wi-Fi technologies stirred up such a discussion amongst ourselves that we wanted to open up the discussion with an external webinar. I hope you can join me for the discussion on May 22nd (Click to register), but just in case you need some convincing, here’s a teaser.  Read More »

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