WebEx and Higher Education
This morning, like most of mornings, I woke up, checked my calendar, and joined a WebEx meeting. After introductions and pleasantries, I listened and conversed with three of my colleagues. Then, at the top of the hour, the conversation concluded, and the group dispersed hurriedly to attend their next meetings. Employees repeat this process almost all day every day. This is how work is done at Cisco. Now, after having been a part of the process for nearly two months, I’m dreading the return to the seemingly archaic way that I work and collaborate with others at school.
This year, I will be a junior at the University of Oregon, and I’m working towards a degree in International Studies with a focus in Business- Marketing. Currently, I’m working as an intern for Cisco’s education marketing team. At the University of Oregon, my days tend to be very similar. I rise each morning at the sound of an alarm (after having pressed the snooze button a number of times). Reluctantly, I drag myself out of bed and draw the curtains to reveal an unpleasant, but un-surprising, site of clouds and/or rain. Next, I start my morning routine and prepare myself for the day ahead. Soon after, I snag my black rain jacket and trudge to class. Since my classes are scattered around campus and begin at different times of day, I would say that, on average, I walk to and from campus about three or four times a day during the week. Between classes, I have meetings for student groups, counseling sessions (Career, Academic, Study Abroad, etc.), office hour meetings with professors, group projects, and a variety of other tasks. I would describe my days as being very “touch and go.” In other words, I’m always on the move from one activity to the next.
After reflection of my work and school schedules, I’ve realized that even though I have more meetings each day at work than at school, my work days seem to be much less hectic, chaotic and are seemingly, more productive – But why? I believe that WebEx is the answer. WebEx decreases my administration time and enhances my productivity, and WebEx is a tool that would drastically enhance my higher education experience.
Time management, communication and collaboration would be far simpler and more effective than they are currently. Group projects would be streamlined; Collecting contact information, finding times that work for each group member, and creating a central meeting place would no longer be necessary. Additionally, being able to share desktops and collaborate using the White Board feature would increase our productivity. Professors would be able to hold online office hours as opposed to sitting in an obscure building for designated number of hours each week, anxiously awaiting questions from students. The possible uses of WebEx are endless – Online counseling sessions, tutoring programs, or informational meetings, etc. Each day, I need to schedule extra time in my day to account for the time that it will take me to find and walk to and from meetings. With WebEx, these tasks would be unnecessary – I would save time, be more efficient, and ultimately, increase my productivity.
Some universities have already seen the benefits of having WebEx on campus.
Wake Forrest University, an 8,500 student college located in Winston – Salem, North Carolina, implemented Cisco’s collaborative technologies into their curricula. Wake Forrest is consistently recognized as being one of the most top 25 universities in the nation, and they have a history of innovative tendencies. In 1996, they were the first college to implement an initiative that led to every student receiving a laptop from the university. At Wake Forrest, they’ve created a culture where students are encouraged to be mobile and travel frequently as a part of their education. As a result, the university needed to find a way for students to work with their peers and professors remotely. They decided that WebEx was the solution. Now, students can attend online meetings, informational sessions and communicate easily using WebEx chat, video and click to meeting features.
Some WebEx applications are free, so I plan to use them for small study groups when I get back to school. However, it would be far more useful and beneficial if every student and professor had the ability to use the tool. For me, having WebEx on campus would be invaluable. I’d be able to drastically streamline my day and increase my productivity. Also, as an added benefit…I could avoid walking around in the rain!