In my last post, I discussed the impact of Teachers as entrepreneurs. After returning from the International Society for Education Technology (ISTE) 2019 show, I’m thinking about teachers as problem solvers and Cisco’s role in creating the next generation of creative, innovative thinkers.

Some wonder what role we play in developing global problem solvers.  It’s clearer than ever after a stunning set of experiences our team created at the show.

This year Cisco partnered with the iSchool Initiative to create a Mars Classroom Simulator experience that challenged teachers to see if they had what it takes to teach on Mars. Participants had 25 minutes to collaborate as a team, solving tough challenges that required use of Cisco technologies to keep the classroom safe and secure.

These challenges included using machine learning embedded in Cisco Intelligent Edge Video Analytics to find the person in their eight-member team who was unwell and needed to be sent to the sick bay.  Cisco Meraki helped players connect their devices over the wireless network to work with experts to solve their challenges. They used Cisco Webex to collaborate continuously with their teams and Cisco Video to connect back to Earth. From outside the room, virtual reality allowed them to track players inside, and Cisco Video equipped them to reconnect oxygen to the Mars spaceship.

By solving these difficult challenges, teachers saw how they could develop students into global leaders and learned how to launch Cisco’s Global Problem Solvers (GPS): The Series program in their own schools with a special guest avatar, Putri. GPS is a free animated web series from Cisco that helps middle schoolers think about how they can use technology for social good while developing important skills like creativity and critical thinking.

We also hosted an active learning space built around Cisco solutions, where nine of our nonprofit and academic partners provided more than 20 hours of hands-on workshops to help teachers explore innovative ways to engage learners. We held more than 25 sessions, in which participants learned about nonprofit programs that support teaching and learning and heard from visionary thought leaders about the future of education.

Our goal at the show was to model the same types of active learning experiences that we’re encouraging teachers to implement in their own classrooms. The challenges and our active learning space offered participants the chance to use technology for hands-on learning and to think through applications they can put to use in their own environments.

To learn more about how you can inspire the problem solver in your educators, discover more Cisco solutions for education here.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group