Craig Tranter is a former educator, and now serves as a technology presenter for Cisco. This blog is the third in his series on advancements and opportunities in education. All views are his own. 

We know that students no longer need to be physically present in order to attend a university course. And, from our discussions on flipped learning, we know that video is an incredibly powerful tool.

In fact, video calling is becoming ever more popular for conversations amongst staff and students. For many students, making video calls is the new normal.

Cisco offers staff and students a number of ways to connect and collaborate from home using their own devices, such as Jabber, Cisco Spark, and WebEx. There is also a wide range of video endpoints under the collaboration portfolio which are built to suit various learning environments. One of my favorites would be the Spark registered DX80, which is great for 1:1 mentoring sessions as you can share digital content, as well as physical content via the Document Camera, plus control the system through your own personal device. Another great feature of some of the larger systems is the use of SpeakerTrack and PresenterTrack, which allows educators to conduct video enabled lessons with ease. Check out the full range of products and explore example scenarios of each system and feature here.

The use of video collaboration not only means that students no longer need to travel into university to participate in lectures, or collaboration sessions, but they also can reach out via video when they need assistance.

In the past, students were quite often limited to the ever-elusive 1:1 mentoring sessions with their tutors when they needed help. Students would be expected to travel in to the university campus and find their own way to an out-of-the-way office in the bowels of the university. However, students no longer need to commute in to the university campus to get assistance, as there are more ways to reach out for support, in whatever way they feel comfortable, using their own devices. This could be via the university website using help links, or online chat; using Instant Messaging (IM); making a standard telephone call, or even a video call; while still having the option for face-to-face meetings.

In fact, different groups tend to have different preferences. Did you know that more mature students tend to prefer email, whereas the younger generation prefers IM? In addition, mature students still tend to prefer face-to-face meetings, whereas younger students prefer video calling. However, young male students actually tend to prefer IM rather than face-to-face contact when requesting assistance as this can be less embarrassing than talking to someone in person. By having access to support in a number of different ways, students are now able to reach out in the way they prefer and continue to extend their learning.

If supporting students isn’t enough, there are also financial benefits to supporting various means of communication.

There you have it.

Watch out for the next post about Digitally Connected Campus.


Craig Tranter

Technology Presenter at Cisco