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Talking about my Generation

I recently read an article by Deloitte and something really caught my attention: voicemail.

Apparently voicemail is antiquated.  It’s out of touch. It’s not an efficient way to communicate with people.

Did you know that? I didn’t. But according to the same article, the reason I didn’t know is because I am too old.

I’m a Generation X-er. I’ve lived through the digital revolution. And whilst I, like any good Cisco employee, love the fruits of technology – the Internet, smartphones, SMS texts, blogs, IWE – I also remember a time when telephones had cords and emails were word-processed and delivered by postmen. And apparently that makes me a whole different ball-game to Generation Y-ers and “Millenials.”

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Meet Colin – the new face of Generation C

“Colin is a 20-year-old computer science student living in London with two other students in the year 2020. He enjoys backpacking, sports, music, and gaming. He has a primary digital device (PDD) that keeps him connected 24 hours a day — at home, in transit, at school. He uses it to download and record music, video, and other content, and to keep in touch with his family, friends, and an ever-widening circle of acquaintances. His apartment is equipped with the latest wireless home technology, giving him superfast download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.” Read More »

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Moving from Education Systems to a Learning Society

Teacher and student on computerIn a good education system, students move through school, graduate, and somewhere between 30 and 50% complete university.  Formal training is complete, education is finished.  People who were once students could relax and enjoy the benefits of the skills and networks they had developed through learning, and any decline in their skills would be offset by gains in experience and compensated for by the new generation of graduates coming through the education pipeline.  This was an education system which was quite effective until the 21st century where we live in a more globalized and interconnected world.

Now, globalisation, accelerating technological change and massive demographic shifts demand a change in education systems: its purpose, where it happens, when it happens, how it happens.  Since new technologies are appearing at such a fast pace, formal education in the first 20 years of life will only form a foundation for future learning.  Lifelong learning will become a necessity, not a nice-to-have.  And as the world shrinks, people in India or china or eastern Europe are competing with those in Indiana for jobs and those in Copenhagen collaborate with those in Cape Town. It is no longer good enough to be second best: everyone needs 21st century skills – not just better skills, but different skills.

To respond to this socio-economic shift, our education systems need to change.  Curricula and pedagogy must focus on building skills for life and instilling a love for learning.  We need to think about new ways of organising learning so that those who are currently excluded by geography, poverty or learning style have a real chance.  Schools, colleges and universities need to open their doors, and become accessible centres of learning throughout life.  And new partners, from the private sector to non-profits, to foundations need to become part of a wider coalition to deliver learning and drive continuous innovation and improvement.

Without these changes, we risk a difficult future: weaker economies, fragmented societies, unhappy people.  Incremental reform is no longer enough – we must jointly take on the task of becoming a learning society.

    Director, Cisco Global Education

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Technology – Bridging the gap in higher education

As countries around the world like India, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico etc gear up to provide education to 400 million or more students, the public and private education institutions and their physical infrastructure alone will not suffice. Using the network as a platform, and technologies such as Cisco Unified Communication, Cisco WebEx, Cisco Telepresence, Cisco Wi-Fi Mesh networking, higher education institutions can enable themselves to supplement in-class curriculum with online curriculum as well. Professors from other institutions within the country or abroad would give lectures online that the students can view in a classroom via video conferencing or individually at home or at their desks. As the global economic and urbanisation trends shift the focus to the east, universities need to provide training to the students for employment and connect with the employers for job creation. Training goes beyond regular curriculum to include specific vocational training in finance, retail, BPO, software, healthcare etc.

In a connected world, the students across the world use similar technologies such a mobile phones, iPods, computers and the Internet. They have access to same content with the internet having democratised access to information. Leveraging the same network, the institutions could partner with employers to provide the required job skills training while they finish up their high school or college education. This will help employers to identify talent early on to meet their demands and reduce on-the-job training when new entrants come on-board.

Next generation learning environments also provide a collaborative environment for students within a country as well as outside the country to work on projects together despite the distance and learn from each other. Examples could range from collaboration on agricultural research, computer science, management, new business ideas etc.

Cisco does a lot today in the space of Education through global network academies providing networking skills to students even with high school diplomas. Cisco also donates equipment and funds research with select universities and provides financial support to educational institutions and volunteer projects through its corporate social responsibility initiatives. Cisco solution teams are innovating solutions to address the needs of these new cities and communities around the world.

On a Saturday morning in February 2008, executives and leaders from the Cisco’s marketing organisation volunteered for a local charity ‘Ashwini Charitable Trust’ near Cisco’s Bangalore campus. The task was to build a library and a computer centre for the underprivileged kids in the area. The relationship between the charity and Cisco’s marketing organisation has since grown. The kids in the high school were taught how to use computers, access the internet, collaborate online, and use digital cameras for video and photography. As part of their summer project in June 08, each team of these high school and college kids produced excellent videos that were judged by Cisco’s leadership team in Bangalore. Since then these young students are using computers to learn from the new web based content relevant to their curriculum and are very confident young people, aspiring to careers not just in technology but other fields as well.

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We, in Cisco solutions marketing organisation, want to enable the dreams and aspirations of these young students and education institutions across the world through our extensive portfolio of products, solutions and services.

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