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Community Colleges Leverage Collaboration to Increase Student Access

November 6, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

We’re seeing more and more how critical community colleges are to the success of so many Americans, young and old:  They’re providing a path back to work for the unemployed and offering the targeted training needed to succeed in specialized jobs—a benefit the Obama administration seeks to further with its Community College to Career initiative.

In a time of deeper and deeper cuts to education budgets, keeping community colleges afloat can prove challenging, but it’s a problem for which technology can provide one possible solution. The fiscal crisis has colleges experimenting with collaborative and virtual efforts to increase access to courses, as online education and mobile learning not only expands community colleges’ reaches, but also saves them money. Through one-time investments in equipment like telepresence endpoints, community colleges can set themselves up to offer increasingly desirable distance learning options for years to come. And, by embracing popular trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), community colleges can also configure their networks to support mass wireless connectivity and virtual access, mobilizing their academic offerings and making them more attractive to potential students.

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Technical College System of Georgia Connects Students Across State

November 1, 2012 at 7:12 am PST

Always interested in the unique ways telepresence is being used in education, I recently heard about one of Georgia’s technical colleges with six campus locations using telepresence in a unique way. With video communication, staff advisors and registration personnel work from one main location and use video to connect to students across the state to assist them with the often stressful registration process.

The college is a member of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), which is the agency responsible for Georgia’s technical colleges, adult literacy programs, and many economic and workforce development initiatives. As recently published in an interesting case study, the TCSG works to unify the education system across 25 technical colleges in Georgia, representing 100 campus locations and more than 170,000 students and 11,000 employees. The TCSG team wanted to provide a technology solution to streamline internal communications between administrative staff at each college. Its goal was to migrate campus infrastructure from the older Centrex architecture to a next-generation technology model, which would help enable the efficient provisioning of student and administrative services and increase opportunities for collaboration between campuses and colleges. Read More »

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iPad Mini Launches – How will it and others impact education?

October 26, 2012 at 9:27 am PST

As we look seriously at connected learning, the influx of notebooks and mobile learning applications has been astounding. This week, in fact, Apple took over much of the news with the launch of its iPad Mini. In the previous weeks leading up to this launch, I heard and read discussions around education being a key target audience for this new iPad offering, which renewed my intrigue in the use of handheld devices & mobile learning.

Bloomberg discussed the rise in iPads being used in the classrooms due to its “cool factor” and ability to encourage students to learn by increasing engagement. More than 2,500 classrooms currently utilize iPads as learning tools, and this number is expected to increase with the continued growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Superintendent of the McAllen Independent School District in Texas was quoted saying, “We’re moving away from desktops and laptops. Ninety percent of the work is now being done on mobile devices.”

Think about that for a minute -- ninety percent -- wow. With mobile learning amongst Forbes recent list of Five Technologies to Watch, it is obviously only going to increase in momentum. In addition, the potential revolution in digital textbooks is primed to change the entire landscape. The jury is still out on when that revolution will take place, but it’s looking more and more like a reality.

Are you, or do you know, an educator who is formatting educational materials for mobile devices and planning learning activities that leverage multimedia, videoconferencing and other features of smart phones and tablets? Tell us your story! (and what you think of the new iPad mini)

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How Do You Take Control of BYOD and Create a True Unified Workspace?

October 19, 2012 at 8:58 am PST

Want to know how to make sure your network is secure & meets compliance all while enabling a successful BYOD program?

OK, I admit that I’ve always been a techie wannabe, however I never quite made it to true techie level. So when the buzz around BYOD and unified workspace started a couple years ago, I was intrigued, and as it has built momentum and taken hold in so many organizations, I have taken an interest in understanding how it really works. Obviously, security, visibility and control are the big concerns, and to understand how those concerns are met, I found this video on Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) really helpful:

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Schools Face Unique BYOD Challenges, But Are Finding Solutions

October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am PST

As a member of the Cisco Public Sector team, and being married to an educator, I have been engaged in a few (sometimes heated) debates on students, teachers and staff bringing their own devices to school. Many teachers have seen impressive results from utilizing students’ own devices in the education process, and with school budget cuts, most teachers do not have any other mobile option, so it’s safe to say that BYOD is taking a strong hold in education.

As a result, schools find themselves addressing unique issues of scalability, security, manageability and budget when it comes to developing and implementing BYOD policies. How will they accommodate in real time the explosion of new devices and applications that students and staff want to use on the network? How will they regulate who uses what device from which location in what manner? How will they support BYOD within a restricted budget?

I recently read an interesting post by Amy Blanchard on this topic. You should check out her recent post on the Cisco Mobility blog, she includes reference to an interesting case study -- definitely worth the read!

By the way, what is your position on BYOD in schools? Love to hear your interesting stories and insights!

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