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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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STEM Education Must be a Hands-on Approach

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are critical to innovation and the continued development of the U.S. economy. However, trends are showing that while there are and will continue to be plenty of jobs in these fields, many students are unprepared or lack the desire necessary for employers of the future to fill these jobs effectively.

In order to get more students interested in STEM, it is imperative that they learn through hands-on training, mentoring and demonstrations early in their education. In her latest blog, Amanda Williams, Community Relations Manager at Cisco, describes the importance of getting students physically involved in STEM to spark an interest for the future. Through the launch of the Cisco US2020 STEM mentoring initiative, Cisco employees are able work with students from various schools around the U.S. The students participate in activities such as robot building, engineering demos of circuit building, 3D printing, and pedal-a-watt to make a phone ring. Through this program, we are able to get students excited about the opportunities to learn more about STEM fields.us2020

While we still have a long road ahead of us when it comes to preparing and inspiring a future generation of STEM innovators, it’s encouraging to see students enjoying the learning process this new initiative provides. Read More »

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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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Educause 2013: It’s All About Engagement

Educause 2013 brought together the country’s greatest minds in higher education to discuss the future of learning. We’ve come away from this year’s conference with a lot to think about – the role of mobile devices in the classroom, new technology implementations and turning the traditional classroom upside down. But throughout all of these different discussions, the common thread throughout the conference was engagement.

At the Cisco booth, we featured solutions that can help engage students through the use of video.  Cisco partner Vyopta demonstrated how Cisco® Lecture Vision and Vyopta vPublish, work together to manage the entire lecture-capture process, from recording content to managing media assets to streaming on demand. Read how San Jose State University is using this tool to deliver 51 next-generation learning spaces across campus.

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Sci-Fi Turned Real Life: 5 ‘Spooky’ Innovations in Science and Technology

Happy Halloween from all of us at Cisco!

To celebrate, here’s a fun list of the top 5 ‘spookiest’ tech innovations –those inspired by sci-fi, made real life through incredible advances in STEM research and the growing connections in the Internet of Everything:

1. The Bionic Man:  Not quite Steve Austin, Roboticists at Shadow Robot Co. in England have created the world’s first robot human made entirely of prosthetic parts. He can walk, talk, and even has a beating heart and circulatory system. We have the technology…

2. Invisibility Cloak: While Hogwarts might not be accessible to us muggles, scientists at HyperStealth Biotechnology have been working on the best camouflage fabric yet- it makes you invisible. Now if we just had a time-turner for some of those incredibly busy days!

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