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WebEx and Higher Education

This morning, like most of mornings, I woke up, checked my calendar, and joined a WebEx meeting. After introductions and pleasantries, I listened and conversed with three of my colleagues. Then, at the top of the hour, the conversation concluded, and the group dispersed hurriedly to attend their next meetings. Employees repeat this process almost all day every day.  This is how work is done at Cisco.  Now, after having been a part of the process for nearly two months, I’m dreading the return to the seemingly archaic way that I work and collaborate with others at school.

This year, I will be a junior at the University of Oregon, and I’m working towards a degree in International Studies with a focus in Business- Marketing. Currently, I’m working as an intern for Cisco’s education marketing team. Read More »

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Disrupting the Learning Dynamic with Technology

March 11, 2011 at 11:12 am PST

Do youth engage in valuable learning experiences via technology? The answer is yes but what they are learning usually pertains to being adept with social engagements. This doesn’t align to the learning their parents and educators care most about, i.e. academic learning. Not to say learning social skills isn’t important to parents and educators but paramount is academics.

So how can technology disrupt the academic learning dynamic as effectively as it has disrupted the process for becoming more adept with social engagements? A new PBS documentary, Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, explores this subject in depth. View an excerpt from the documentary below.

A recent Cisco press release details how world educators believe technology can be leveraged to transform learning. A key highlight for me was:

Video and collaboration technologies are rapidly allowing educators to be more effective and productive in teaching, anytime, anywhere. This can increase productivity by reducing travel between schools or even countries, decreasing the cost of travel downtime. “Presence” technology is becoming an emerging factor in teacher training and staff development areas; at the same time, increasing the availability of collaboration tools is fostering new “project-based” learning environments.

For anyone not on board with introducing technology to youth at early ages and within their learning environment, school, consider this…if they don’t learn early how are they going to fair against those who do?

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer

Are we providing a disservice when we don’t integrate technology with the learning process?

“Literacy has always been defined by the technology. Before the printing press your ability to orally recite something meant to be literate. So as technology has made things cheaper we are now saying well hmm ‘is someone literate if they cannot critique media, take media in, if they are only taking in traditional text’? That’s a question to answer today but what would that mean in 2020? I would venture to say that they won’t necessarily be considered as being literate.” Nichole Pinkard, Digital Youth Network Program Founder, Visiting Associate Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University

Interest driven learning is a proven concept, so how do we use technology to enable youth to find their interest?

“Every kid has an interest. Sometimes he doesn’t know what it is, sometimes he can’t articulate it but every kid has an interest. That is a fundamental belief. If you can’t buy into that then you can’t buy into the work we do.” Diana Rhoten, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Startl

In the PBS documentary Quest to Learn (which I mentioned in a previous blog post on gamification techniques) is heralded by the students as the ‘school of the future’. They applaud the use of technology and games to help them understand system based thinking and the process of trial and error. Katie Salen, Director, Quest to Learn  expounds on why it is was time for Quest to Learn now!

I am awed by what these folks are looking to accomplish. It makes me wish I was 10 again as I believe learning integrated with gamification techniques, digital media tools and other technologies would have made me actually EXCITED to go to school.

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Teaching with TelePresence at Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin is a leader in delivering high-quality instruction and services that are responsive, flexible, and accessible. MATC recently deployed a first-of-its-kind system for community colleges which uses Cisco TelePresence to enhance the quality of education for students.

The College’s decision to pursue a more sophisticated communications technology was based on the institution’s competition, not just from other schools, but from factors that affect students’ time and attention span. Today’s youth use increasingly sophisticated technology in their daily lives: iPods, SmartPhones, PDAs, web-based collaboration and social networking technologies, high-definition television, and more. College officials recognized that students have grown accustomed to a high level of quality, as well as variety, in their learning and communication methods and expect it to be matched in every area of their lives, particularly from a technical education.

The College turned to Cisco TelePresence because it offers an innovative solution for distance learning, creating an “in-person” classroom experience over a converged network. TelePresence technologies transmit life-size, high-definition images, and spatial discrete audio to deliver real-time, face-to-face interaction between people at distant sites, using advanced visual, audio, and collaboration technologies. One benefit of the new distant learning platform is that the College is now able to efficiently deliver quality instruction across the wide area network from location to location regardless of the classroom geography. Easy, virtual access to counselors, academic advisors and other student service providers is further enabled, as well as the ability to reduce travel for meetings and internal training of staff and faculty.

View the video to see the system in action.

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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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Cisco at Educause: Using Technology to Expand Options for Higher Education

October 8, 2009 at 4:28 pm PST

One of the things I like best about Fall is the Educause show, a time for us to take a pause in our busy lives and learn about the best thinking in how technology applies to higher education. It also gives us a chance to connect with one another and share ideas about how to effectively prepare students for the future and increase access to quality education. This year, these topics are especially important as together, we face one of the most troubling economic environments that we’ve ever encountered as a nation and global community.

What we know is that we need to think differently to address the challenges in front of us. We need to think differently to develop a range of options. The Educause tagline, “In Challenging Times, We Need Options,” could never be more accurate or true than it is today. Not only do higher education institutions need options in terms of how to deliver quality education, but students need options to get the very best education possible.

Technology plays a critical role in providing students with options, and Cisco delivers many of these technologies to the higher education market. Interacting with technology not only helps students to prepare for careers that are increasingly technology-dependent, but it also gives them better access to education. High-definition, life-like TelePresence solutions provide access to students in remote locations, and these solutions also allow universities to access experts from across the globe. Wireless technologies engage students in the learning process with wireless response systems and anytime, anywhere access to information. Collaborative learning solutions, such as WebEx, support online learning, offer virtual group work, and enable interactive learning experiences. And advanced video technologies create media-rich, connected learning environments that engage the “now” generation in the learning process.

We welcome the opportunity to connect with you at Educause. Please visit us at booth 322 to see a number of our demonstrations for higher education, including TelePresence, Campus Safety, Digital Media, and more. And, enter for a chance to win a new Flip Ultra II HD Video camera from Cisco to capture the spirit of Educause. We look forward to seeing you there.

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