This month we launched Future Voices – a Cisco campaign designed to give students and educators around the world a platform to showcase how they have reimagined education while learning and teaching remotely in the wake of the pandemic. We ask them, what does the future of education look like?

This is a critical question and one that institutions around the world are rightfully grappling with today. As with many other industries, education is in a dramatically different place now compared to where it was a year ago. Overnight, 1.2 billion students across the world had to shift from learning in classrooms, labs and lecture halls to becoming completely online.

That’s why when country lockdowns hit, it became a transformational imperative to work with our customers – schools, colleges, and universities, and help them ensure continuous learning. This meant not only ensuring that education institutions had the right technology tools in place, but also supporting them, the students and their parents in their adoption of that technology.

Fast forward to today and the roll-out of vaccine programs has begun. Even though the pace of these programs will vary from one country to another, each will eventually reach that moment where a new version of normal can begin.

Education is in our DNA

Cisco was born at a university when two IT professionals wanted to connect their computers from different parts of the campus. Cisco’s Networking Academy has taught digital skills to over 12 million learners across 180 countries for almost 25 years. We also offer the Cisco Certifications, which in a single year, were requested in 1.9 million IT-related openings. These are just a couple of examples of how we embody education when thinking about the strategic pillars that will guide us into the future.

A flexible future

When I speak to customers around the world, what is clear is that the future of education is hybrid, bridged by choice. Flexible models will emerge, and through that, technology will help us be more inclusive and creative. Institutions will be able to deliver learning at a pace that keeps up with a world that is changing at exponential speed.

We are going to see stackable credentials, where students can mix and match curriculae, or even mix and match universities as they achieve their learning qualifications. We will also see a more effective and faster response to the demands that emerge from the workforce in terms of upskilling or supporting career change.

Becoming 10x better

I believe that creating experiences that are 10x better, as well as having a strong core network to support this, will be the critical factors in achieving this vision.

That’s where collaboration technologies such as Cisco Webex come into play. These tools allow educators to customize learning by observing student interaction through video, understanding the types of learners they are, and using features available within the tools to connect in a simple and integrated way.

When learning returns to school and university grounds, students and educators must benefit from experiences that are 10x safer. Meraki cameras, sensors, wireless networks, as well as data and analytics all have an instrumental role in supporting institutions on how to use their spaces safely and effectively.

Finally, we cannot underplay the importance of a 10x more secure experience. Cisco believes and builds its products so that security is built-in not bolt-on. This is imperative to ensure all businesses and institutions around the world are protected with the highest level of security protocols.

We have a unique opportunity to transform education from the ground-up, in a way that makes it truly inclusive. Institutions recognize this. Identifying ways to drive better engagement, rethinking the traditional models of teaching and ensuring that security becomes part of the fabric of everyday learning – are all critical actions to take. Now is the time to reset, and with that I ask the same question, what does the future of education look like to you?

Excited about our #FutureVoices campaign? Check out our #EducationNow blog series for more timely thought-leadership around education and education technology.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group