There is no getting away from it this hybrid world we find ourselves in is rapidly changing the way we interact and share data, and all for the better. As institutions of higher education experience this permanent shift from the traditional on-campus experience to flexible digital environments, they have new pressures to deliver a user experience that feels frictionless and yet is still familiar to students, faculty, and administration. The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) holds great promise in this area too. Together, AI and flexible hybrid environments provide the key to truly frictionless experiences and better student engagement. 

With the full acceptance of a flexible work culture among the private sector, the public sector is finding it difficult to enforce and determine the right path to in-person vs. flexible learning for students and hybrid work options for faculty and administrationTo overcome this, higher education institutions are looking at their classroom and administration experiences and are seeking to create frictionless, culture boosting environments that students, faculty, and staff alike eagerly desire to be an active part of, rather than be forced to accept a rigid approach one way or the other.  

Students are also demanding faster, more personalized digital engagement. With the impending 2025 enrollment cliff, creating these frictionless environments and experiences will bring students to those campuses, where both inperson or virtual experiences are intertwined. That’s why experience is now more important to the success of an institution than ever.  

This new environment institutions find themselves having to enable holds a tremendous amount of opportunity — but only if they take steps right now to leverage the generational change that AI, flexible learning, and hybrid working solutions offer them. 

AI and flexible hybrid environments are new to education, but not Cisco

AI is not new to Cisco. We’ve been leveraging it for decades for audio, video, natural language understanding, and analytics to create unrivaled experiences that engage users. But there is something new: advancements in large language models and generative AI. This is allowing us to deliver unrivaled collaboration experiences and elevate all users (students, faculty, and staff) to higher levels of interaction. 

AI is core to our entire collaboration portfolio, from Webex for Education to devices like headsets, phones, and our award-winning room systems. AI is also deeply embedded in our Customer Experience portfolio to reduce the length of time to get to the right person and information efficiently. So, while AI is the latest buzzword across social media, Cisco’s decades of investments and experience with AI are helping colleges and universities optimize collaboration, reimagine workspaces, and maximize experiences. 

For example, Webex for Education is underpinned by the industry’s best AI, security, and manageability for a more frictionless experience: 

  • Purpose-built AI for audio and video intelligence that promotes greater inclusion and well-being. Video intelligence features such as facial and gesture detection, which let you communicate without saying a word. 
  • Be Right Back knows when you’re distracted. By leveraging our facial detection technology, Webex will sense when you step away and replace your video feed with a sign that says, “be right back.” 
  • Smart lighting which automatically adjusts the video lighting based on the time of day or even the weather to ensure you look your best in any environment. 
  • Super resolution that delivers high-definition meetings without high-definition bandwidth, even in low bandwidth conditions. And no choppiness, even with packet loss. 
  • Background noise removal technology that has removed over 96 billion minutes (about 180,000 years) of background noise. We’re extending this capability to PSTN calls with Webex Calling, so users on both ends of the call be heard clearly. 
  • New features leveraging A.I. are added monthly, such as Cinematic A.I. editing in real-time to make every lecture feel like a movie. 

AI and Webex deliver holistic experiences for all

From Microsoft Teams and Zoom, to immersive rooms, Cisco devices are opening up a whole new world of multiplatform collaboration for our higher education customers 

  • Our new Cinematic meetings brings multi-camera support that automatically transitions between shots to make sure everyone is seen and heard at just the right moment. And when rooms have glass walls, the new Meeting Zones feature lets you define a visual perimeter for the meeting, and AI will focus only on people within that perimeter. This keeps your areas and information secure. 
  • Cisco’s RoomOS delivers a true frictionless experience allowing faculty, staff, and students to seamlessly use the tools they want, but with all the power of Cisco A.I., from the touch of a button or even synchronized for a personalized experience.  

AI and hybrid learning Webex

In addition, Cisco Board Pro, plus other Cisco devices and peripherals, are now certified for Microsoft Teams Rooms. This includes support for our AI-enabled audio and video intelligence technologies to drive better user experiences in Microsoft Teams Rooms. Plus, Webex Contact Center is now certified for Microsoft Teams. 

AI and Hybrid learning for student and faculty engagement

AI and hybrid learning solutions have also risen to meet a new bar of instant and personalized service. Something everyone (faculty, student, staff) expects is for the colleges’ digital environment to know who they are, when to be proactive, and when to personalize engagement. Not just once, but across their entire interaction, and while preserving their privacy and protecting their data.  

To maximize the value of AI and hybrid work for our education customers, we’ve powered up Webex Contact Center with higher level machine learning capabilities: 

  • Topic analysis built using an AI large language model (LLM) that surfaces trends for why customers call the contact center, providing actionable insights. 
  • Proprietary agent answers offers AI-enabled recommendations in real-time to agents from a knowledge base built from customer queries. 
  • Intelligent chat summaries automatically summarizes an entire chatbot conversation delivered at the point of handoff to a live agent. 

At Cisco, we’re leveraging our decades of experience working with AI and hybrid learning solutions to create true digital environments for education that deliver familiar and frictionless student, faculty, and staff engagements. By actively embedding purpose-built AI into all our hybrid learning solutions, we’re redefining and optimizing collaboration while reimagining the campus classroom and maximizing student engagement across the whole digital education environment, wherever that may be. 

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Neal Tilley

Cisco Education Advisor