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Systematic Transformation: The Intersection with Technology in a Journey Toward the Future (Scaling Best Practices) – Part Five of Six

This six-part series focuses on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States.  Read parts 1 through 4 on the Cisco Education blog.systematic-transformation 

At Cisco we are seeing outstanding examples of change, some of which have been highlighted throughout this blog series. Others, unfortunately, are one-time interventions, and tend to be unsustainable. We’ve seen a number of video implementations, for example, that have gone nowhere because they were not part of a larger strategy or plan, and training and culture were never addressed.  Across the country, outdated, disconnected video equipment lays scattered in classrooms, lecture halls, and IT departments. How can we ensure that these improvements can intrinsically change our higher education system in the United States, and across the globe?  We strongly believe that technology can help in this area as well. 

Scale can take place within a university and across university systems, especially when video technologies such as Cisco TelePresence are employed. This videoconferencing solution is easier to use, higher quality, and provides an immersive experience that rivals the one found in the classroom.

Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona is partnering with National Lambda Rail, a National Research and Education Network, to connect with universities and other higher education institutions to deliver joint classes.  With just one teacher and Cisco TelePresence, PVUSD is now providing instruction to students at multiple schools simultaneously.

Duke University is using Cisco TelePresence to create a virtual lecture hall, and expand the reach of its MBA program beyond the shores of the U.S., thereby increasing access and generating new revenue streams.  Now, their business school students can access professors, guest lecturers and business leaders from around the world. In this way, Duke is extending the in-person classroom environment across multiple campuses and into the business world.

Finally, Cisco recently announced WebEx Social, a new, enterprise collaboration platform that combines the power of social networking, content creation, and real-time communications and collaboration. We believe that WebEx Social has the power to drive the sustainable change required by higher education systems across the globe. 

Along with Cisco TelePresence, Duke University uses WebEx Social to provide faculty, staff, and students with a single, unified platform to access learning management systems, student information systems, and other applications for academics, extracurricular activities, and career information.  WebEx Social is also coupled with tools for voice and video collaboration within the same platform.  As a result, the traditional experience is evolving into dynamic, group-based learning that is often taking place outside of the traditional classroom setting.

Our vision is that WebEx Social will be used by higher education systems worldwide to connect and collaborate, and share best practices, course content, resources and more, helping drive the scale required to transform the entire system.  We believe that this tool is an agent for change, and will revolutionize the way in which higher education institutions deliver the business of education.

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Elevating the Learning Experience through Mobile Collaboration

It’s no secret that new technologies are changing the way students learn. The modern classroom is no longer confined to a physical space and students have access to greater educational opportunities than ever before.

Much like video has created new models for learning; mobile video collaboration is extending the boundaries of education even more. Imagine a school where students can instant message a professor from their tablet with an urgent question about tomorrow’s test and get an immediate response, or where a student athlete headed to a competition can join a lecture from their own personal mobile device. By overcoming space and time challenges, students and faculty can connect to the people and resources they need from wherever they are. No longer is education confined to the walls of the classroom. Read More »

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Napkins, Toolboxes, and IT..

What do these three things have in common? For Lone Star College System (LSCS), the fastest growing community college in the U.S., these items helped build a whole new technology foundation.

While at a higher-education conference, CIO of LSCS, Link Alander, and former VP of data center virtualization at Presidio, Steve Kaplan, began hashing out what it would take to deliver the best computing experience—on a napkin. They jotted down all the ways technology could deliver a customizable, optimal, and educational platform to students and faculty.

The vision was a toolbox, not just any one tool: an entire resource pool for professors to contribute to – and students to pull from – anytime, on any device, from anywhere.

Click here to read full story.

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Systematic Transformation in Higher Education: The Intersection with Technology in a Journey Toward the Future (Navigating Culture)

AM73036Part 3 of A Six-Part Series: Transforming Higher Education in the US

This six-part series will focus on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States. The Need for Change and  Shared Challenges were the focus of the previous chapters in this series.

From Cisco’s experience with higher education institutions in the U.S., those that are implementing change well are laser-focused on three critical areas: the ability to address questions of culture, to modernize teaching and learning, and to scale and propagate change across multiple, often divided, siloes within their institutions.  Also, these institutions are using technology to manage each area more effectively.

Technology plays a critical role within each of these sectors, and if used wisely and artfully, can help to accelerate innovation and change. The rate and speed at which institutions need to change will never happen without technologies such as a solid core infrastructure, wired and wireless networks that enable ubiquitous connectivity, collaboration tools that provide seamless and robust communications, and new social collaboration platforms that support and extend the interaction of multiple communities, and ultimately, create a federated higher education society.

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Online Learning and MOOCs – passing fads or major game changers?

It is twenty years since Harvard moved into online learning, quickly followed by Rice, MIT – and the Open University. So it is worth asking what is new about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)? I think two things are new: First, the scale of the disruption: free learning, for hundreds of thousands of individuals, most of them outside the formal university system. Coursera claims to have 2.4 million students registered to their 200 online courses; these are pretty impressive numbers achieved in a relatively short period of time. Second, the nature of the learning experience: increasingly collaborative, and even peer-led.

But as a driver of real transformation, the impact of MOOCS has been limited, absent a viable business model. And specifically, absent a way in which providers can offer some level of teaching experience, that’s valuable and therefore chargeable to the learner. However, two initiatives we’re familiar with at Cisco suggest this sort of model is now starting to emerge.

The first initiative is the University Of The People. A global university, with 1500 students, remarkably from 135 countries. This is online peer-learning – chat-room technology – providing qualifications in business and technology at just $50 a course. A very affordable model offering mentoring of substantial value from volunteer faculty around the world.

The second initiative is the latest move by Udacity. Udacity as we know has 750000 students in all, 150000 registered to one course, Artificial Intelligence, alone. But as Sebastian Thrun recognizes, Udacity has been looking for a business model until the announcement last month of San Jose State Plus.

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