There have been many conversations about the impact of technology on individual schools, but much less about the impact on entire education systems. To address this, Cisco staged five roundtable discussions in Australia to investigate the opportunities presented by digitization.

K-12 education has never been more important, or challenging. There is an expectation that people in a digital world are able to problem-solve, collaborate, and think critically, as well as be technically competent in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

While technology disruption has been immense, we are in the early stages of even more profound change. The Internet of Things is being thought of as the second-generation Internet, or “Industrial Internet.” If the Internet was about connecting people, IoT is about connecting people to machines and machines to machines.  As a consequence, there is likely to be more change in learning in the next five years than there has been since Gutenberg. Why? Because we are at a tipping point where new technologies can engage more students, render learning more relevant, contain costs, and enhance equity. 

Consider, for example, the technology disruption occurring in our general lives, and inevitably in our schools. Advances related to mobility, digital collaboration, cloud, big data analytics and cyber security are driving fundamental changes to pedagogical, business, and operating models.

The roundtables confirmed there is no shortage of vision and leadership in education in relation to digital technologies. Across all jurisdictions that participated, system leaders spoke of the need for more innovation, a change mindset, and sustained effort in the need for impact at a system level.

Despite general recognition of technology’s return on learning, roundtable conversations revealed technology was not necessarily as high a priority as it should be. The desire to disrupt is often stymied by other pressing issues, including organizational restructures, new policy implementation and the business of operating schools. System leaders are grappling with what sustained and effective action looks like in relation to digital.

What is clear is that collaborative action is likely to be more successful than independent approaches. This includes greater collaboration between education systems and industry.

While Cisco is a major technology partner, its interest in education is far broader. As an example, it is heavily invested in ensuring that Australia’s education system produces the talent it needs to thrive in the knowledge economy. By working closely with education system leaders and continuing to have these types of conversations, Cisco is hoping to be part of the solution, not just talking about the problems.

To learn more, refer to the Education Leaders roundtable full report, and check out a brief infographic recap below.

Manging School System in a Changing World- V1



Reg Johnson

General Manager, Education

Cisco Australia and New Zealand