It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago, a major global pandemic turned our world upside down and resulted in unimaginable consequences. Overnight, we had to re-think learning, work, and healthcare. In education, students were immediately moved online; teachers were forced to find new ways to deliver learning, and people had to consider careers of the future. Now, a year-and-a-half later, education is at another critical turning point as we look toward the future of learning.

Student and teacher expectations, the fear of security breaches, and uncertainty about the future are creating the realization that technology can be used in new and different ways to deliver learning. This realization is accelerating the digital transformation of education, unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.

Technology is being used to support new learning models, and the possibilities seem endless. Cisco has been at the heart of education and supporting the digital transformation of education since the founding of our company on the Stanford University campus in 1984. Today, we continue to work closely with educators as they imagine the possible and build bridges to the future.

With rapid transformation comes challenge

The digital divide continues to grow between those who have access to devices, connectivity, and digital literacy – and those who do not. Add to that, the pandemic has exacerbated a longstanding global mental health crisis among students, and teachers are struggling with burnout. This crisis is driving the need to develop new ways of experiential, engaging learning.

And, unfortunately, schools are some of the best targets for cyber attacks. Ransomware attacks increased by seven times in 2020, compared to 2019 with K-12 accounting for the majority of all ransomware attacks.  According to the a recent FBI report, 57% of all reported ransomware attacks in August and September 2020 were targeted at the US K–12 schools, up from 28% for the period from January through July. The average ransom was around 50 thousand dollars, but the highest has crossed USD 1.4 million dollars.

So, how can your educational organization prioritize investments in and prepare for the future of learning?

No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, Cisco can help build the bridge to get you there.

Now more than ever, we believe that technology can be used to provide an opportunity for all, make a meaningful impact, and bring about a future that is better and brighter than today.

Our commitment to education goes beyond our leading products and services. To date, Cisco has positively impacted more than 527 million people through social impact grants and signature programs. In the last year, we donated 53 million dollars in cash and personal protective equipment to nonprofit organizations and first responders during COVID-19.

For 23 years, Cisco Networking Academy has provided a bridge to career opportunities to more than 12.6 million people in 180 countries. And, we recently announced our new Skills for All program, delivering free IT education to empower all people to pursue careers of the future.

As we look towards the future, I am also pleased to reinforce Cisco’s commitment to education with a few announcements.

Simplifying learning with Webex Education Connector and Webex Classrooms

Now Cisco is pleased to announce the next wave of hybrid learning with an end-to-end secure collaboration platform for hybrid learning and services. This platform is based on our award-winning Webex product line and includes our latest web-based interactive solution, Webex Classrooms.

Webex Classrooms allows educators and students to manage learning with a dedicated place to attend classes, view previously recorded lectures, and access course material. This solution brings greater flexibility and mobility to enrich the learning experience for teachers and students.

With Webex Classrooms, teachers can safely and securely teach from home, manage classrooms, schedule courses, and host and monitor classes.  Students can join classes with easy-to-find links, view recordings, and schedule video meetings with instructors and classmates. They can also access a personalized calendar of upcoming classes, meet one-on-one with the entire class or in small breakout rooms, and stay organized from within Webex Classrooms.

For schools or universities already using a Learning Management System (LMS), the Webex Education Connector allows for the integration between Webex and Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai, and D2L.  This integration simplifies the classroom experience by making sure everything teachers and students need to schedule and record courses and to access course materials and recordings resides within the LMS.

Finally, our complete set of Webex Devices, including Webex Board and Webex Room Kit Pros, complements our integrated platform, merging the virtual and physical, and allowing teachers and students to connect and collaborate from wherever they might be.

Recognizing our everyday education heroes

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our frontline teachers and administrators for helping us to get through an incredibly challenging year-and-a-half. You are our heroes, and we applaud your unwavering efforts in keeping students engaged and learning.  Thank you for helping us to build a bridge to the future of learning.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group