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Back to School: Transforming the Classroom with IoE

With students and teachers heading back to school, I’ve been thinking about when attended high school and college. For me, collaboration meant getting together with study groups, phone calls for homework help and office hours with teachers. For my two children – one a college junior and one college freshman – I have seen streaming video, text messages and online sessions with educators thousands of miles away turn our kitchen table into a classroom with a simple click of a button.Back to School

Beyond convenience and the overwhelming coolness factor of being able to connect virtually with teachers and classmates, I often wonder how technology will impact education and careers in the long run. Collaboration software is pervasive on many campuses, transforming the learning process, academic research and the relationship between students and instructors. With the advent of BYOD and mobile technology, collaboration is even becoming more accessible.  Will the integration of collaboration in their education translate into career skills?

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Transform the Way Your School Collaborates with New Service Models

After more than 15 years of working in the telecommunications and IT industries, I’ve seen firsthand how people use technology to make a difference and change lives. While there are innovative uses of technology across all industries, nothing continues to impress me more than how collaboration technologies are reinventing education.

As we’ve seen time and time again technologies like video and mobile devices are enhancing 21st century learning. But no matter what technology schools and educators are using, the delivery of services matters. Thanks to the cloud, schools can deploy advanced collaboration technologies with increased financial and operational flexibility.

With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), organizations can implement unified communication applications while saving money by switching from a capital expenditure model to an operational expenditure model. The flexibility of the cloud enables customers to accelerate rollouts, improve business agility, lower maintenance and utility costs all while continuously delivering services.

Take for example Perspectives Charter Schools, which serves more than 2,300 students across several Chicago communities. When Perspectives Charter Schools made the shift from an on-premise unified communications system to a cloud collaboration solution they lowered monthly costs, simplified system maintenance and improved administrative efficiency. With Cisco HCS, Perspectives’ monthly bill is now 25 percent less than their previous monthly costs for phone lines, maintenance, software support contracts and repairs. But while the total cost of ownership for communications has dropped, the quality of services hasn’t. The schools have added new collaboration capabilities such as voicemail-to-email and single number reach help make staff members more accessible.

And they’re not the only ones…

Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina made the same shift from on-premise to the cloud for voice services and experienced much of the same benefits. With Cisco HCS they’ve lowered the overall cost of their voice system by eliminated the need for one connection for each school and freeing up the IT team. Not only are they saving money, they are also increasing collaboration. The switch to the cloud gave students and faculty access to more advanced collaboration capabilities such as video and instant messaging.

Alamance-Burlington School System and Perspectives Charter Schools’ use of Cisco HCS are classic examples of doing more with less. Powered by the cloud they can both deliver the advantages of Cisco’s collaboration solutions with the financial, operational and strategic benefits associated with the cloud.

Is your school ready to start benefiting from the cloud?

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Creating New Models for Learning with Video

Students are consuming information in new and different ways – books are being replaced by computers and blackboards are being replaced by video collaboration screens.  To sum it up, technology is revolutionizing learning.

While educators struggle to deliver top-notch educational experiences amid budget cuts and fewer resources, they are finding innovative ways to provide better opportunities to their students. At the crux of this innovation are collaborative learning technologies, such as telepresence. From grade schools to universities, classrooms are combining video with learning and students, staff and parents are reaping the rewards. Read More »

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Awards Abound for WTAMU and CIO James Webb

West Texas A&M University was recently named in the U.S. News and World Report Top 20 for both Technology and Student Services, while WTAMU CIO James Webb was recently named to ComputerWorld’s 2012 Premier 100 IT Leaders list. This program will honor the top 100 IT and business leaders that have shown exceptional leadership and innovation in IT strategy and planning at a conference to be held in Phoenix, AZ in March 2012.

WTAMU has deployed multiple Cisco Enterprise Video technologies, including digital signage, physical security and media experience engine.

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