The 2019 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE19) event convenes this week to bring together a community of educators looking to learn about new technologies that can help solve challenges in the classroom. Having been an educator in a previous life, I am always excited to meet with teachers to better understand their pain points and strategize on how technology can serve as a transformative solution.

This year, ISTE19 will showcase the latest technologies and partnerships that will cultivate the next generation of STEM leaders destined to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

As the demands of the future redefine what success looks like for students today, Cisco is committed to forward-thinking solutions that lay the groundwork for connected campuses, empowered educators, and students who have the tools they need for success in the digital world.

When used appropriately, we believe that technology has the power to enhance the academic experience and reinvent how teachers approach their careers, helping them to rethink the ways they teach, engage with students, and forge connections–in innovative new ways using a wealth of exciting resources.

Teaching students beyond the classroom

I often speak with educators and administrators from small, rural school districts about the unique challenges they face and best practices for integrating technology in the classroom. At ISTE19, I will be joined by the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) to promote social entrepreneurship, showcasing how Cisco’s collaboration technology can be used to help students learn and develop entrepreneurial skills for careers of the future.

Through the use of video technology, conferencing, and digital content tools, we create blended learning environments that extend the student experience beyond the boundaries of the classroom so that learning can happen anywhere. Rural schools can go far beyond the walls of their classrooms on virtual field trips and global connections to expose students to perspectives and experiences that they might not have access to otherwise.

The use of collaboration tools in the classroom as part of the curriculum approach can help foster creativity, teamwork, and critical thinking skills among students.

Engaging students at each stage of their academic journey

Optimizing the content, style, and pace of instruction to the needs of individual students makes learning more meaningful, but it’s also a challenge for educators who are responsible for 30 or more students at various stages in their academic journey. When I was a seventh-grade teacher, I once taught a class of students whose reading levels ranged from fifth to twelfth grade, so I understand the difficulty of personalized learning.

Leveraging digital tools and learning management platforms like ST Math, a web-based program that uses language-free animation to help students understand math concepts, allows educators to tailor content, resources, and assessments for each student, freeing up time so they can focus on those who need additional support.

Since Cisco partnered with MIND Research Institute in 2004 to bring ST Math online, the program has grown to reach over 1.2 million students who are now learning at their own pace and even doubling or tripling their growth in math proficiency.

In addition to providing tools to meet students where they are, Cisco also recognizes the importance of tailoring the way we engage students with touchpoints throughout their academic career–from elementary school to high school. Last year, we introduced our Global Problem Solvers: The Series educational initiative, an animated series that explores entrepreneurship, 21st century skills, and how to use technology for social good.

In addition to preparing students to become future social change agents in an increasingly connected future, the initiative was designed to reach students–especially female students–at a critical inflection point in their adolescent development when they can understand the potential of tech and IoT to be used for social good.

This year, we have expanded our partnership with Science Buddies, a nonprofit that provides mentoring and free science project productivity tools, to develop a series of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned lesson plans that teachers and educators can use with Global Problem Solvers: The Series to empower students to work through real-world challenges by using their STEM skills. Through workshop sessions at ISTE19, attending educators will be able to learn more about how they can combine the animated video series with one of these lesson plans for their classrooms.

Engaging parents in their child’s academic success

In my 30+ years as an educator, I’ve seen firsthand how parental involvement can enhance academic performance. When teachers and parents are in regular communication about students’ needs and progress, students feel supported and motivated to try their best in school.

While strong parent-teacher partnerships are key to supporting students’ success in the classroom, non-English-speaking families are at a disadvantage, as teachers are frequently unable to communicate with parents and miss the opportunity to elevate a child’s success.

One of our newest nonprofit grantees, TalkingPoints, has developed a multilingual family engagement app with two-way translated messages that teachers can use to better communicate with their students’ families in their home language. Through technology that’s accessible and inclusive, teachers and schools are enabled to provide the support system that their diverse students need to learn and grow, while empowering parents to take an active role in their child’s future.

Technology is constantly changing, and we are living during an exciting time when we can use innovations to positively shape our children’s academic experience and set them up for future success. Stop by the Cisco booth (2122) to learn more about our commitment.

This year, we’re excited to host an Escape Room Experience: Mars Classroom Simulator at the Cisco booth. Participants will simulate being part of the team trying to be first to colonize and operate a new school being built on Mars. Using Cisco Wi-Fi 6, Meraki smart cameras, Deep Fusion facial recognition and more, they’ll work collaboratively to get all systems back online and restore oxygen before time runs out.

And visit our “Active Learning Space” in Room 106AB, which features a series of interactive STEM sessions and workshops geared toward helping students develop important social and problem-solving skills necessary for success in a connected world. Several of our nonprofit partners–including MIND Research Institute, Talking Points, and Science Buddies–are leading sessions there.


There are a variety of exciting sessions to choose from at ISTE this year. For more information on ISTE19, be sure to follow #ISTE19 on Twitter. If you are unable to make it to Philadelphia, make sure to follow along live on Facebook and with the hashtag #notatiste19 for insights on the promise of technology in education.



Mary Schlegelmilch

Business Development Manager