AM71308At the beginning of 2012, we saw three major trends emerging in the education space, but we had no idea that they would all be converging: Flipped Learning, BYOD, and Shared Collaborative Platforms.

This time last year, I was sitting at an old, high-top biology lab table with my son’s AP Biology teacher, asking him to explain this whole “Flipped Classroom” thing and why his classes’ AP bio scores were so high.  Lo and behold, Flipped Learning became the mantra of the year.

Sal Khan and the Khan Academy became the best-known content-feeder into this phenomenon, and I started voraciously consuming his videos on pre-calculus, statistics, and world history.   So did teachers and students as they turned to Khan as a source of pre-packaged lectures, new flipped learning models, and emerging information on different assessment measurements.  Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann even wrote a book about it, The Short History of Flipped Learning, and they joined us as guest speakers at the 2012 ISTE show.

In line with this trend, higher education institutions, our long-standing bastions of tradition, began considering the possibility of partnering with the likes of Coursera, Udacity, and edX to augment their own programs.  They began asking questions about how they could use these Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to increase scale, reach students in remote, rural, or developing populations, decrease cost, and close the remediation gap.

AM62091Cisco responded to this trend, working closely with customers on designing new solutions, creating use cases, and implementing video technologies that delivered on the promise of flipped learning with the click of a button.  The Cisco Lecture Vision solution emerged, and our customers began turning in large measure to this solution to help enable new flipped learning models in a safe, secure, scalable, and reliable way.  At the heart of this trend was the pervasive use of video for teaching and learning.  Cisco’s WebEx, TelePresence, and other video technologies were used to create robust, dynamic Connected Learning experiences.

In parallel, we saw the explosion of the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) movement.  Not only were students demanding learning experiences based on the use of rich media, but they were also expecting these experiences to be delivered on any device, any time, from anywhere.  Whether sitting on their couches watching Jimmy Kimmel, in the library, or on a bus, students want access to content, lectures, and other learning resources.  We knew that students wanted to work their way, so we delivered the “Work Your Way” campaign and saw school districts such as Katy Independent School District in East Texas embark on massive BYOT initiatives in their schools.

We also released a new study, the 2012 Cisco® Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) that indicated:

“Ninety percent of Gen Y surveyed worldwide said they check their smartphones for updates in email, texts and social media sites, often before they get out of bed, according to the  There are 206 bones in the human body, and the smartphone could plausibly be considered the 207th for Gen Y. Two out of five said they ‘would feel anxious, like part of me is missing,’ if they couldn’t use their smartphones to stay connected.”

Near the end of 2012, we saw the emergence of new social collaboration platforms to help faculty, staff, and students connect and communicate more effectively.  YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter were not enough.  Schools, colleges, and universities were demanding a safe, secure platform that they could use to access technology, provide an integrated view to tools, applications, and resources, and enable strong collaboration between their communities.  A group of our summer interns coined this phenomenon a “Learning Society” and provided strong insights into what Cisco would need to do to create this type of solution for higher education.  One intern aptly said, “We don’t want our professors to see our personal Facebook pages.  We want our social and academic lives to be separate, and our social lives to be private.”

As a result, Cisco launched WebEx Social for Higher Education at Educause. This integrated, cloud-based solution was developed in partnership with leading higher education institutions, including Duke University, North Carolina State University, Case Western Reserve and University of Chicago.  It goes beyond email, learning management systems and portals to connect people, capture the vast knowledge and expertise within the education ecosystem, and to make those resources easily available to students and teachers anywhere.

By the end of the year, we saw a convergence of all of these technologies.  Content in any form, but namely video, is beginning to move onto these collaborative platforms.  Collaboration tools are being integrated with the platform, and access is being provided to any content, from any device, at any time, within a unified, integrated environment.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group