Frustrated. That’s how Wharton School of Business Professor Karl Ulrich feels when he cannot engage with students enrolled in the prestigious University of Pennsylvania’s remote campus in San Francisco.

Given how many hats members of the faculty from the school wear, it’s a real challenge. Take Ulrich. In addition to his duties as a professor, he also serves as the Vice Dean of Innovation at the Wharton School. Add to that his work as a researcher, entrepreneur and author, and you get a professor who wants to spend time with students – but can’t – due to time and distance. The same is true of remote students who are eager to spend time with the Philadelphia-based professors for which Wharton is renowned. It’s been frustrating!

Until now.

Today, Wharton and Cisco are taking the wraps off a technology that will change the way we look at education. In the “Cisco Connected Classrooms” unveiled in San Francisco and Philadelphia, Wharton educators can interact with remote students separated by thousands of miles as though they were in the same room. I’ve had a chance to join students and professors today and experience first-hand how we can transform education and become truly collaborative. I want to congratulate the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, Inder Sidhu and Shailendra Gupta, and the educators and technologists from Wharton. They have produced a true breakthrough in education.

To get an idea of how a Cisco Connected Classroom works, imagine a professor—like Ulrich—teaching a class on business innovation in a Cisco Connected Classroom in Philadelphia. While he lectures, students from San Francisco are transported into his class. Thanks to advanced audio and video technology, Ulrich sees students in San Francisco sitting behind those in Philadelphia as though they were actually in the same room together. The students in San Francisco, meanwhile, view Ulrich at the front of their room in full-size, high-definition resolution, and their remote peers poised beside them. Students and faculty can ask questions and interact no matter where they are located – without  compromise. The technology is so immersive that professors and students alike often forget the time and distance that separates them.

This collaboration leverages Cisco’s award-winning TelePresence technology, which makes it possible for people the world over to meet face-to-face in life-sized, high-definition clarity at the touch of a button. What TelePresence did for meetings, the Cisco Connected Classroom will do for education—and more. Among other things, it will enable Ulrich and his peers to increase their interactions with remote students and preserve lectures and presentations in a searchable, fully indexed video format.

Once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why we believe “tomorrow starts here.”


Rob Lloyd

President, Development and Sales