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Technology that Helps Humanity

May 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm PST

This article was originally published on Cisco’s internal employee news site, Cisco Employee Connection. 

The Internet of Everything is beginning to transform every aspect of our lives. Can we still change this world for the better by connecting people, data, process and things?

Corporate Affairs SVP Tae Yoo says, “More than ever.”

“As the Internet of Everything takes hold, our networked technology is effecting more dramatic and longer-lasting change in people’s lives,” Tae says. “We find the world’s best social innovators. And then we give them the tools and resources to expand and accelerate their fine work.”

Take two of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) community partners that are making significant progress against math illiteracy and global poverty. One, MIND Research Institute, is helping U.S. schoolchildren improve their math skills for future job success. The other, Digital Divide Data, is helping underserved youth in Kenya, Cambodia, and Laos develop technology skills for a lifetime of employment.

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Investing in Innovation Pays Off for Math Students

This week, Cisco will receive the National Partner in Innovation Award from MIND Research Institute, based in Southern California.

We are honored, but that’s not what is most important.

While many such awards are given annually by nonprofits to recognize their donors, this award actually acknowledges a decade-long partnership between Cisco and MIND to improve student math achievement.

Such a long-term funding relationship is rare; most giving spans at best three to five years. But MIND is rare, too. We have been supporting the organization this long because they have developed one of the best and most effective approaches to helping students learn math that we’ve ever seen, with rigorous and significant student outcome data to prove it.

Our introduction to MIND’s work was at one of their annual meetings, back when they were still serving a relatively small set of schools in their local region. Flying into Orange County, California, I recall remarking to a colleague that there had already been many unsuccessful attempts to technology-enable math learning, and I did not expect to see anything new at the conference.

I was never so happy to be proven wrong.

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Removing Language Barriers from Math Education Improves Student Achievement

What if your biggest challenge in learning math was that you could not understand the words that the teacher used to convey math concepts? That the language in the math book was not your first language? Or that your learning disability involved difficulties with words and reading?

Dr. Matthew Peterson, co-founder and COO of MIND Research Institute, knows what that’s like. He is dyslexic. But after completing an undergraduate triple major and a Ph.D. in visual neuroscience, he decided to try to figure out a way to teach math that minimizes the use of words, but maximizes student understanding and achievement.

 

Dr. Peterson’s stunning innovation is called ST Math, a web-based, self-paced software program that uses language-free animation to help students grasp key math concepts. This resource is offered to students in addition to regular classroom instruction, twice a week.

It turns out that all students, regardless of language or culture of origin, gender, and in some cases even learning disability, do far better at math when they have additional help from solving the ST Math exercises.

As we outlined in an earlier blog post, Cisco’s initial expansion support for ST Math in Silicon Valley and in Arizona has shown strong student performance gains of double to triple growth in math proficiency. Our newly supported 22-school Virginia ST Math pilot sought to replicate these successful outcomes.

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Cisco Partners Recognized for Promoting Achievement in K-12 Education

October 4, 2013 at 11:44 am PST

This week, 2 of Cisco’s current or former education nonprofit partners were recognized by Business Roundtable for their work to prepare U.S. K-12 students for college and the workplace.

  • MIND Research Institute. MIND’s Spatial Temporal (ST) Math program is a language-free, web-based software program that uses animation to help students learn key math concepts. Cisco support helped MIND convert ST Math to a web-based platform, enabling it to expand its reach from 55,000 students in 2007 to 500,000 today—a 357 percent increase. Students using the program have, on average, doubled or tripled their growth in math proficiency on standardized tests. Learn more.
  • New Teacher Center. This nationally recognized nonprofit partners with states and districts to design and implement comprehensive new teacher induction programs that provide face-to-face and online mentoring with highly skilled educators. Cisco supports the organization’s Teacher Assessment Tool and its online mentoring solution. Learn more.
A student uses the ST Math program. Photo: MIND Research Institute

A student uses the ST Math program. Photo: MIND Research Institute

As a technology company, Cisco views STEM education as a business imperative, and these organizations all recognize the urgent need to encourage students to pursue STEM subjects, said Alex Belous, a program manager for Cisco and the Cisco Foundation who has worked closely with these nonprofits to facilitate Cisco’s support.

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Cisco Shares Expertise on STEM Education at National Conference

STEMThe U.S. National STEM Solutions Conference is just around the corner and the Cisco CSR team will be among the more than 2,000 business, education, and government leaders from around the United States in attendance at the Austin Convention Center from June 17 to 19, in efforts to continue change in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) education, policy, and workforce development.

Cisco CSR, along with its partner STEMconnector, will use the conference to advocate for more STEM education to better equip the students of today with the education and resources necessary to become the leaders of tomorrow.

During the three-day conference, the Cisco CSR-funded EdTech: Revolution in Education and 100 CEO Leaders in STEM reports will be showcased. EdTech: Revolution in Education is a first-of-its kind effort to create an inventory of education technology resources. The 100 CEO leaders in STEM report features interviews with 100 CEOs, including Cisco CEO John Chambers, which highlight the committed leadership necessary to win the STEM education battle.

On Tuesday, June 18, Cisco’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs, Harbrinder Kang, will give brief remarks during the release announcement of the EdTech report and later during the 100 CEO Leaders in STEM dinner. On Wednesday, June 19, Cisco Networking Academy Director, Gary Coman will participate on the panel Bridging the Gap: the Pivotal Role of Community Colleges and Career and Technical Education. With 10,000 Networking Academies in 165 countries, Cisco has long been a pioneer in training students around the world to become ICT professionals.

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