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Midland County, Texas Builds Library of the Future

Technology is a wonderful thing, at least in my opinion; especially when it’s used to inspire creativity, knowledge and to make learning fun and interactive. New and interactive technologies inspired the Midland County Library in Texas to change people’s perceptions of what a library can and should be. Coined as the “library of the future”, community members now engage in a wide-variety of activities inspired by not only the books on the shelves, but the entire world around them.

Take a look at the video and see how Midland County is changing the definition of “library”:

Changing longstanding perceptions of public libraries is necessary to attract children and adults to visit, read, check out books and ultimately, learn.  When a library positively changes the way people interact and gain information, education goals become limitless. The technology transformation is proving successful too; since its opening, the new library has had more than 1,000 visitors daily.

Midland County Library partnered with Cisco to develop its IT infrastructure, helping incorporate new technologies, such as interactive digital signage, to entice new visitors to the library. The a state-of-the-art, interactive facility features digital walls, e-book rentals and training programs on how to use new technology.

This weekend, if you are attending the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual conference in Fort Worth, join me for Midland County’s 8am workshop on Sunday – Using Interactive Technology to Drive Citizen Engagement in room 202 D.

 

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City of Melrose, Mass. Takes to the Cloud

Melrose wanted to maintain an active, innovative network that was efficient and made sense from a financial standpoint. The city chose the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) with FlexPod as the underlying technology to provide IT services to 18 sites within the city, including a variety of agencies such as the public school system and the police and fire departments.

The Melrose school district, for example, has about 1,300 computers spread across seven buildings, which requires a lot of networking infrastructure and the capability to meet many, diverse demands. The school system in Melrose is a particular source of pride for the city. In fact, Melrose High School was recently ranked among the 1,000 best public high schools in the nation by Newsweek. Thus, it was important for the city to meet expectations and future demand with technology that would help continue the tradition of educational excellence.

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Emerging SDN Skills and the Cisco Approach

The Software Defined Networking (SDN) market evolution is having a major effect on networking job roles. New careers in IT are being built, focusing more on complex services and architectures rather than systems.

A recent survey by Cisco found that 71 percent of IT professionals intend on using SDN technology this year for a number of reasons, ranging from creating more programmable networks to simply reducing costs.

With these shifts in mind, new talent needs arise for IT professionals to accommodate evolving industry job roles.

Through the years, market transitions and technology disruptions have introduced IT knowledge gaps. Knowledge of networking fundamentals is no longer enough. Now, network professionals must understand networking systems with integrated security, wireless and voice capabilities. Cisco is leading the charge to provide direction and proper learning paths and resources to help address these challenges.

Listening to our community, we’ve determined new skills and job roles require a deeper understanding of deployments and troubleshooting of SDN architectures, as well as familiarity with SDN specific troubleshooting tools.

Just as we have been all along, Learning@Cisco is investing heavily in creating education and certifications programs to help our community evolve skills in order to continue to be the driving force of innovation in networking.

Watch below as I discuss Learning@Cisco’s efforts around SDN further.

Stay tuned for future updates to our certification and education program at: www.ciscolearningnetwork.com

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Shared Challenges – Part Two of Six on Transforming Higher Education

AM71346This six-part series focuses on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States.  This part focuses on the fact that universities are more similar than they are different.  Universities in the U.S. share common challenges: inadequate access, dated teaching methodologies, and perceived irrelevance of our current programs.

First, we have a problem of access: We simply do not have enough capacity to meet demand. In the U.S., there were 3.2 million graduating seniors in the class of 2012, 73 percent of whom believed they needed still more education to obtain higher-paying jobs. Since 2007 the number of international students has also increased by more than 20 percent. And, competition is increasingly stiff for places in top academic universities: Harvard accepted only 5.9 percent of applicants, and Yale accepted 6.8 percent. With only 4,000 higher education institutions in the U.S., it’s easy to see that we lack the capacity to continue delivering against the increase in demand.  (U.S. Department of Education and the New York Times)

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What Really Matters in K-12 Teaching and Learning? “Getting Beyond Folklore”

Over the past 40 years in the U.S., our student to teacher ratio has dropped from 22:1 to 17:1. Our teachers are better educated than ever – fully 62% today own a Masters degree, compared with only 23% in 1971. And we continue to spend – our nation’s investment in K-12 places us 4th in the world at $11,000 per student, trailing only Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway.

So, what’s happened to our reading and math test scores over these past four decades? Virtually flat.

Why is this?

Roland Fryer, the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard, would argue it’s due in part to the fact we really do not know what the problems are. His view: “it’s time to apply some science to the problem of student achievement in our schools.”

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