Education Telepresence

This six-part series focuses on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States.  Read parts 1 through 5 on the Cisco Education Blog.

Part 1: The Need for Change

Part 2: Shared Challenges

Part 3: Navigating Culture

Part 4: Modernizing Teaching and Learning

Part 5: Scaling Best Practices

Educators share a common crisis in the delivery of higher learning.  They suffer many of the same challenges, with regard to access to quality educational experiences, the need to replace outdated teaching methodologies, and the imperative to prepare students to become part of the workforce of the future.

The global higher education community would do well to share a common approach in helping to transform its systems, employing an approach that uses technology to improve culture and modernize teaching and learning to prepare learners for next-generation careers, and to reach scale.

Cisco recommends the following:

  1. Identify those within your community who can help to develop a different kind of culture within your institutions.  Think of your community in broad terms; select members from across multiple, diverse areas of your campuses, reach out to cities and towns, and include faculty members and students.  Ensure that everyone has input into the vision and strategy, and challenge them to identify issues and develop creative approaches to evolving learning.  Ask all participants to imagine the possible, and then develop solutions to some of the most challenging aspects of the learning experience.
  2. Identify best practices that are working in colleges and universities across the globe.  Learn what others are doing that is working, and identify the technologies and approaches they are using that will resonate with and meet the needs of your faculty, staff and students.
  3. Post these practices in a social collaboration portal, and invite members to join.  Create a dialogue for change within this online medium.  Meet regularly over video to share ideas, discuss what works, and find ways to improve learning.
  4. Expand the definition of your partners, and leverage them to help build out your vision and strategy.  Consider technology vendors, non-profit organizations, and other institutions that can help you to execute on your strategy.
  5. Study today’s video and collaboration technologies to see how much they are easier to use, that they have greater reach and impact, and can help deliver on your university’s mission.
  6. Consider how you will scale your transformation across your system, and between systems.

While change can be daunting, the need to change can be an important catalyst for innovation. Many college and university systems are strapped for financial resources. But those organizations that identify and drive innovation from within can often operate on a drastically reduced budget.

Steve Jobs said, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

The same applies to educational transformation:  Innovation comes from within, and technology is a critical enabler to help accelerate change.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group