Changing Lives Through Education Technology
U.S. Public Sector Area Vice President
Thought Leadership, Education, Public Sector, Collaborations, Security
Every day, we’re using technology to access information, engage with others and learn new things. As technology continues to impact how we view our world and collaborate with others, we’re seeing the transformative impact it can have on the quality of education in our schools and the opportunities it provides when used responsibly. Education is at Cisco’s core. In fact, our company was born out of Stanford University, we have worked with 30,000 education institutions and trained more than 9.2 million students through the Cisco Networking Academy program.
With the emergence of advanced technologies, such as Wi-Fi 6, schools and educators are increasingly leveraging technology to not only provide an enriching educational experience, but also change students’ lives for the better.
As we celebrate our 30th Cisco Live event here in San Diego, I’m excited to share some inspirational stories of how our customers are using technology to evolve the way they engage with students and build a safer school environment
School safety is a widespread issue, and after helping to launch the safer schools and campus initiative for Cisco, I’m thrilled to continually support schools that are working to increase security no matter where they are or the problems they face.
For the Lewisville Independent School District in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, ensuring physical safety and cybersecurity for over 50,000 students attending the district’s five high schools, 15 middle schools and 41 elementary schools is a top priority. Chris Langford, the district’s Director of Network, Infrastructure and Cybersecurity, has taken active steps to protect students by balancing hardware, software and services with education and training. His team has implemented a comprehensive suite of security options – from firewalls to malware protection, email/cloud/network security and content filtering – to detect and stop threats, improve visibility of who is using their network, protects users and their data, and ensure compliance with regulations like the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
The team’s mandated cybersecurity training for all Lewisville staff members shows fewer employees at risk of falling for scams over time, while implementing the Digital Citizenship Curriculum teaches students how to adopt safe online habits and even address cyberbullying from a young age. The team has seen significant results because of their enhanced efforts, including an improvement in its BitSight Security Rating (third-party source). The LISD Safety and Security team have worked to increase the physical security of schools by deploying upgraded security cameras that operates from the district network that can support these operations in a secure, reliable way. Their implementation of security technology coincided with an upgrade to their Cisco wireless network, making it even easier to integrate new cameras into their existing network.
Across the country, the University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP) also aimed to change lives through education technology. UNCP has helped reinforce the importance of campus safety by educating students and faculty about how to be part of the solution if something goes wrong –changing fear with knowledge and empowerment. The UNCP population is incredibly diverse, so the university’s technological resources need to enable students to overcome barriers of economics, history and geography – ultimately meeting students wherever they are. This was accomplished through creating an end-to-end, enterprise-class infrastructure through Cisco Meraki, Cisco Webex and other Cisco solutions that would support the university and its evolving goals, ensure operational efficiency and implement a security strategy to protect the community.
For example, Cisco Webex enables students and professors at UNCP to connect online for class, office hours or team meetings, driving collaboration across geographic regions and building communities where they didn’t exist before. Dr. Joe West, assistant professor of Political Science and Public Administration at UNCP, is an early adopter of Cisco Webex – both Webex Teams and the Webex Board – for his quantitative analysis class and has seen firsthand the positive educational impact technology can have on student retention and student success. “Webex Teams and the Webex Board have taken class engagement to a completely new level, providing interesting and accessible new ways to view course material and interact, and making the experience better for all of us,” he said. “With this technology, I’m able to create a single, yet expansive learning environment.”
UNCP uses Webex to not only change lives inside the university environment, it has also offered mentorship by offering a Girls Who Code program. When Kindra Locklear from UNCP couldn’t find local female tech mentors for the program, she turned to Cisco who provided mentors and career guidance via Webex.
Both stories are great examples of the limitless potential for technology to not only enhance how students learn and collaborate, but also create safer school environments. In order for schools and educators to fully optimize the positive benefits that education technology has to offer, there needs to be continued dialogue between the private and public sectors in how we deploy these innovations and the campus infrastructure that is needed. Cisco remains committed to playing a role in driving innovation and reimagining the way we cultivate the next generation of leaders.