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Four Ways Social Software Collaboration Technology Can Change Higher Education

New media and collaboration technologies have the potential to transform higher education in terms of the classroom, the learning process, the relationship between students and instructors, and how institutions conduct academic research. While much of the industry discussion revolves around use of consumer tools and social network sites like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, Cisco’s educational customers also see tremendous opportunity to increase student engagement and drive their own institutional strategies with “enterprise class” social software as well.

Since Cisco first announced Quad, we have had conversations with dozens of colleges and universities regarding the role enterprise social software and Cisco Quad can play in transforming education. Cisco Quad is an enterprise collaboration platform that brings people together to share ideas and content, collaborate on projects, and interact using chat, voice or video, regardless of where people are located.

Below, we’ve outlined four ways in which educational institutions are telling us enterprise social software is helping, or can transform the way learning, research, and academic advisement is crafted, delivered and consumed:

1. The 24/7 interactive classroom: Instructors often struggle to deliver a collaborative environment for their students that is secure and supports multiple access methods such as mobile.  Technology like Quad can enable students to interact in a secure, policy-based manner that extends the classroom conversation beyond physical walls. Courses partially or wholly targeted at off-campus students can similarly benefit from enhancing the class-like experience for remote students. For example, at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the cross country MBA students based in the US, England, India and other countries are using Quad to create virtual working groups, find people with common interests, share files or videos with other students working on similar projects and instantly start video conferences or chat sessions. Quad provides students with the ability to interact, ask questions and share ideas with professors/faculty/tutorial assistants anytime, as opposed to only during fixed faculty office hours. It can also drive improved accountability on team projects, as content and comments are tracked in activity feeds and in project communities by both participating students and faculty leads.

2. Serendipitous Research: Quad contains several features, such as an activity feed that compiles microblog posts from students and staff and allows a snapshot view of a person’s current activities. These dynamic updating functionalities can facilitate broader cross-departmental collaboration, for students and researchers alike. Security features ensure that research that needs to be confidential is shared in a secure and safe manner.  As researchers update their statuses with exciting discoveries or frustrating problems, or create posts, upload videos or otherwise document their work, this content becomes accessible to hundreds of fellow university researchers through activity feeds and searches, making it possible for providential inter-disciplinary connections to be made and new insights to be generated. Read More »

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The Year in Retrospect–Perspective of a New Hire

It seems like only a year ago when I stepped in the Cisco office as a new hire fresh out of college. Oh wait, it was just a year ago when all this happened. Time flies when work is never dull and learning seems never-ending. I can go on and on about all the lessons I learned, awesome projects I got to witness and work on, the supportive team I work with, etcetera etcetera. Instead of writing a 365-page book documenting my adventures at Cisco (a page a day is an underestimation by the way), I’ll summarize the top three things I learned at Cisco.

1. Don’t be afraid to make your ideas heard:
I don’t know about you, but when I first started, approaching a colleague, manager, or director with a new idea seemed more intimidating than jumping off an airplane 5,000 feet above the ground in a sky diving lesson. Mind you, I have a serious case of acrophobia (read: fear of heights). When you’re new, everyone else is more senior than you, has more experience under the belt, knows more about the ins and outs of Cisco, and need I say more? The idea of bringing a new idea to the table seems almost ridiculous.

“Someone must have come up with the idea before.”
“What if they say no?”
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The Next-Gen Collaborator: Ready for a Mobile Workplace

Today, we’re featuring a guest post from Eric Schoch, senior director for hosted collaboration  in Cisco’s Collaboration organization. Eric is responsible for hosted and “as a service” solutions, strategic pricing and licensing, and business development.

There is simply no denying the increasing importance of being connected. Generation Y in particular, who grew up with mobile devices affixed almost permanently to their hands, views connectivity as one of life’s fundamental resources.

The newest addition to the workforce considers their mobile devices as an essential workplace tool to managing their workload and connecting with their colleagues on the go. While sitting in a meeting or having lunch in the break room, you can almost visualize the text bubbles hovering over crowds of this generation of workers as fingers hammer away at phones and tablets, eyes glued to the shiny screens in their hands. BYOD

But this trend goes far beyond lunch hours and happy hours. As proven by Chapter Two of the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, the next-generation workforce is demanding flexibility in their choice of devices in both the workplace and remote-work options, illustrating the importance of the Internet in workforce culture. Social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility, in the case of 30% of the study’s respondents, are more important when accepting a job than a higher salary.

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What Technology do College Students Really Want?

September 1, 2011 at 10:29 am PST

 Our PR intern, Rachel Caudillo talks to college students here in Southern California to hear what technology they want most for going back to school with!  Check it out: 

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The Future of Higher Learning: Classrooms Optional

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

Reading David’s post on “TEDTalks” got me thinking about how we conceive of the classroom and what the future holds for higher learning. How important is the traditional college experience in a world where ubiquitous broadband networks let us see and interact with teachers virtually, from anywhere in the world?

In his 1854 essay “The Idea of a University,” John Henry Newman argued why, even in an age when knowledge was widely accessible in books, the college experience was still vital:

“The general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already. You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome. …we must come to the teachers of wisdom to learn wisdom.”

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