ANAHEIM, Calif. – A new digital educational platform announced by Cisco this week promises to make it easier for university faculty to schedule their online classes more simply and securely through their existing learning management systems.
The new platform, unveiled at EDUCAUSE, integrates Cisco’s WebEx online meeting and presentation platform with Cisco’s Spark service, an enterprise level communication and collaboration platform. The combined platform is designed to work within universities’ learning management systems.
The integration allows faculty to schedule online classes and support video and collaborative discussions online, while at the same time enhancing the education experience for students who may be on campus or online, said Renee Patton, director of education for U.S. Public Sector at Cisco.
The new platform is an outgrowth of Cisco’s on going commitment to help colleges and universities “improve the student experience by giving learners more ways to connect, engage, learn and succeed,” said Patton.
Cisco has been working with several universities, including Georgia State, Utah State and Mercer, in developing the platform, which is based on Cisco’s secure network and includes unified voice, video and wireless communications. The platform also brings enhancements to Cisco’s Digital Learning and Digital Campus platforms.
The challenge was how to integrate the combined platform into the universities’ larger digital learning environments.
That was the case for Georgia State University, where its digital learning environment functions as the gateway for providing students and faculty with access to learning technologies, according to Tracy Adkins Burge, director of learning technology at Georgia State’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
“For Cisco’s Digital Education Platform to be considered part of our digital learning environment, it had to integrate with the learning management system that functions as the backbone of our environment,” she said.
“Through the integration, faculty and students have access to this platform,” which she said has enabled “better communication and collaboration, online office hours, and live lectures and speakers.”
“Ultimately, integration with the LMS is key for platform adoption by our faculty – the LMS is one of the few systems at the university that can boast that it has faculty and students logging in multiple times a day, every day,” she said.
The new platform also offers some new benefits for faculty and staff, according to Patton. Those include downloading, viewing and streaming recordings, managing attendance records, as well as other cloud-based functionality.
The Digital Education Platform also supports universities’ efforts to improve recruitment and retention, by providing students a platform that makes it simpler to access courses and coursework as well as an easier way to communicate about assignments from within the LMS.
Cisco vice president Tony Morelli said Cisco is working with one of iGold Developer Partner CirQlive to offer integration services so that universities can integrate the new Digital Education Platform through their school’s existing LMS. Once installed, institutions can schedule traditional or online courses directly from LMSs such as Canvas, Moodle, Brightspace, Blackboard and more.