It is always a pleasure to chat with Dr. Lance Ford. He is so good at communicating verbally and visually that it is hard to remember we are actually videoconferencing with him. Very quickly the technology fades away in the background, as the conversation becomes more and more lively. To his point, turning on the video could cut our meeting times in half as, by listening and reading body language, we engage in deeper levels of collaboration and understanding. This is how we work and learn in the 21st century. The proof is in the pudding, as we say.
If you missed our February 10th webinar, I invite you to watch the recording. I jotted below some of my key take-aways, and I invite you to do the same by posting a comment below or by connecting with me via Project Squared or via email at email@example.com.
First of all, good technology is technology we do quickly and safely forget about. As Lance puts it, when technology becomes the topic of the conversation instead of the conduit, something is wrong. By taking away barriers, Cisco allows students and teachers to focus on the conversation. In fact, Lance was moving around freely across the room, without remotes, mics or any wires. It was the job of the cameras to follow him, not the other way around!
Secondly, it is all about using the right tool at the right time. Teaching is not a linear activity anymore, as we increasingly personalize learning. In the old days, the teacher would have religiously planned and timed a lesson to spend 10 minutes on one activity, 20 minutes on another, etc. Today, with more adaptive and conversational styles of teaching, a teacher will call upon many different tools as needed, for example pulling a document from the LMS, then moving to break-out rooms in WebEx, and sharing results on the virtual whiteboard. All these tools interact seamlessly with each other, allowing students to focus and to understand more easily.
It is also about choice. Teaching is never boring, because every class and every student is different. A professional will always use the best tool to help a student. At the same time, teachers themselves learn every day. We learn from students. We learn from peers. We learn from industry. It does not matter where we are today, there is always a next step forward. The availability of a palette of tools that work very well together is an invitation to explore new ways to teach every day.
Of course, one of the premises of learning and working together is that everyone can participate. How good is a conversation when the other person cannot be heard? Again, you don’t have to worry about that. WebEx will work its magic to give you the best access over a capricious public Wi-Fi, while allowing people in conference rooms to enjoy the highest quality video. No matter the type of device you have, or where you are joining from, everyone gets at the same experience. WebEx Collaboration Meeting Rooms can welcome attendees coming from Cisco and non-Cisco conference rooms, Microsoft Lync softclients or SIP-compliant endpoints. WebEx and the other Cisco tools have been updated several times a year, so that you always get the better version.
Finally, we’re constantly learning from students and teachers. A good chunk of my time is actually dedicated to help educators design new and innovative solutions that best suit their needs, oftentimes pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and then working with Cisco partners to make it a reality. Together, we are reinventing teaching and learning, every day.
Let’s connect and put the fun back in teaching and learning!