It’s definitely been quite a while since I sat in a classroom for more than the annual back-to-school night routine. When I was a student, the classrooms always smelled like chalk. We turned in assignments in our best handwriting and carefully chose the right folder to encase our reports. Eventually, we moved into the wild world of typewriters. Teachers stood at the front of the room and told us what we needed to know. We wrote down what they told us to write, we filled out worksheets, and occasionally we worked together on projects.
The smell of dry-erase markers has replaced the aroma of chalk. Classrooms are more vibrant, interactive places. And educators are finding more ways to integrate technology to enhance learning with more experiential activities in the classroom. Adoption rates vary – while 75% of teachers report that they’re using technology daily with their students, fewer schools have ways for students to learn and collaborate outside the classroom.
“It was very easy to extend my classroom techniques to Cisco WebEx… The chat feature lets students ask questions, and the ability to share video and other content increase their engagement.”
– Jeanine Pfeiffer, Professor, San Jose State University
From early education to post-graduate studies, schools have myriad challenges as technology continues to advance. Student expectations are constantly evolving as their personal use of technology also evolves. Meanwhile, not only do educators have to keep students engaged and adapt their teaching to new technologies, but schools also have to address business issues including budgets, enrollment, growth, and competition.
As different schools and regions have different needs, schools are finding their own ways to make the most of technology to best address their needs. Read on for examples from:
- Universidad Panamericana
- Utah State University
- Oklahoma’s Howe Public Schools
- Romanian Ministry of Education
- San Jose State University
Mexico’s Universidad Panamerica
Improving outcomes with virtual learning and teaching
With some 12,000 students and 33 degree programs, Universidad Panamericana is one of Mexico’s top private institutions. Spread out over four campuses, technology allows the four locations to act as one university.
Cisco WebEx and Jabber give instructors a range of options to help improve learning outcomes. For examples, students can access classroom sessions remotely or replay lectures after the live class. Similarly, MBA students can work together in virtual group sessions to share knowledge.
“New ways of working offer possibilities for teachers and students to collaborate on a more personal level via video.”
– César Hernández Reynoso, IT Director
Read more about Universidad Panamerica in the full case study.
Utah State University
Video transforms education and increases student access
Utah State University is another example of a multi-site university – in this case, one with 43 sites across the 29 counties. Now, the university uses Cisco technology to extend video throughout Utah, allowing students to attend remotely from designated USU sites. Is it working? Video-enabled distance learning enrollments are growing faster than main campus student enrollments.
Today, with 75 distance-education degrees and programs, video is increasing the ability to provide students with access to the best teaching faculty and courses, even in some of Utah’s most remote areas. Trying to do the same in the traditional classroom approach would have been impossible to afford. Faster growth at lower cost. That’s the goal of every organization but even more critical in today’s Internet economy.
Read more about Utah State University, including interviews with students, in the full case study.
Oklahoma’s Howe Public Schools
Removing the limits of location through video
Learning is no longer confined to the classroom, the campus or the home. For students in rural southeast Oklahoma, the commute to school on the bus is an active learning space.
Howe Public School students who were once limited by their physical rural location can now access advanced courses and college curriculum. Cisco collaboration tools, in conjunction with the learners’ devices, provide a seamless conduit to real-time instructors via video-conferencing and just-in-time avenues for peer and teacher mentoring.
“Reimagining education is not about technology or devices, it’s about moving to a truly individualized and differentiated learning experience.”
– Dr. Lance Ford, Educational Technology Advocate.
Watch the video to learn how Howe Public Schools is doing just that.
Romanian Ministry of Education
Digital transformation sees soaring grades as educational equality improves
Only a few years ago, where you lived in Romania had a significant impact on your education. Compared to city schools, the country’s rural schools were more poorly equipped, resources were limited, and teachers were stretched. Not surprisingly, students in city schools usually outperformed their rural counterparts in national exams.
Realizing the impact on future competitiveness, the Romanian Ministry of Education set out to bridge the divide, establishing connected classrooms where learning is possible anywhere, anytime, with any device. Regardless of location, educators now have unlimited access to educational resources. Faculty can collaborate on joint projects with peers. And schools record content so students can learn at their own pace, creating a virtual learning environment.
Students in remote schools now hear from and have access to city-based subject matter experts via video conferencing. Digital learning expands the educational opportunity for both students and teachers—from physical textbooks to an entire world of digital information in the form of text, audio, and video.
“Before, only a few students had access to very specific materials. Now, 100% of students can access a much wider range of educational content and learning tools.”
– Ana-Maria Vladau, Schools Inspector, Romania
Read more about the Romanian Ministry of Education in the full case study.
San Jose State University
Innovating to extend educational opportunities and partnerships
As the number one supplier of education, engineering, computer science, and business graduates to Silicon Valley, San José State University (SJSU) is an incubator for top tech talent. Collaboration technology isn’t new to SJSU’s approach, but the university continues to find more ways to take advantage of it to reach new corners of the world.
Just one example comes from Vietnam with SJSU’s Social Work Education Enhancement Program (SWEEP). It’s an initiative to develop and carry out a curriculum that is relevant and adaptable to Vietnam’s changing needs. Eight Vietnamese universities participate in the program, using Cisco WebEx for regular bi-weekly leadership video-conferencing meetings that involve the SWEEP team and high-level representatives of the partner universities.
“The ability to conduct video meetings and build strategic partnerships with Vietnamese universities is contributing to the development of social work in Vietnam… Our partners can connect to video meetings via Cisco WebEx on their mobile devices, making participation very easy for them.”
– Debra Faires, SJSU School of Information
For more examples of how San Jose State University continues to explore collaboration technology, read the full case study.
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