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

June 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm PST

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  Across the country, outdated, disconnected video equipment lays scattered in classrooms, lecture halls, and IT departments.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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