Dr. Dunseath discusses CISCO’s role in global education and his passion to connect educators to the best technology.
The U.S. audience will learn about CISCO’s global efforts and the local impact technology has on teachers in their classrooms.
Listen to the Podcast or Download as MP3Download Now
Dr. ROD: Can you talk globally about the need for technology in education and how you are approaching that at CISCO ?
KEVIN: CISCO, of course, has a reputation as being a leading technology company. But, what we want to make clear is that we’re much more than just a technology company. We have huge experience and expertise in various sectors including in education. I myself, for example, come from an education background. We want to make sure that when people buy our technology they are using it in the smartest way possible, to make their journeys of transformation successful.Whether it’s a K-12 school system in Saudi Arabia, in Russia, in South Africa, or in Turkey, or higher education the key is to make sure that the technology is used appropriately, and smartly, so that the student can make the leap into the world of the 21st century learner.
Dr. ROD: How does CISCO approach professional development and training for teachers so that new hardware, and new solutions, don’t just sit in their classrooms?
KEVIN: That’s a very good question because supplying the technology is very easy. The hardest part is the transformation of people, and we have to really start with the teachers. Often the teachers are reluctant, they’re a little nervous, a little afraid of the technology because they’re in the classroom with 15, 20, 25, or 30 digital natives, young people who’ve grown up with the technology who are confident, and who are not afraid. The teachers often belong to a different generation and they’re slower to adopt the technologies, they’re afraid. We work with partners in our Partner Ecosystem to provide the training for teachers, and system leaders so that there is a trickle down effect. We also train some of the teachers to act as mentors to other teachers. It’s a gradual process; it’s an incremental process. But what you cannot do, I think successfully, as a school system, is simply buy the boxes and put them in the classroom and not pay sufficient attention to the training of the teachers and the continuous professional development of the teachers. Notice the word continuous, it’s very important that it’s not just a one off thing. It has to go on and it has to be progressive over time.
Dr. ROD: How do you approach customization so your solutions adequately meet the need of those in the school?
KEVIN: Every set of solutions is customized for that particular client and environment. Whether it’s the education environment or the cultural environment. For example, we do a lot of work in Saudi Arabiaand as I think you probably know, Boys and girls in Saudi Arabian secondary schools are taught separately. Men in Saudi Arabia cannot teach female students and similarly female cannot teach male students. So we have some of these interesting challenges for the technology, but what seems sometimes as a disadvantage can actually turn out to be an advantage. Because, in many countries they have a large number of rural schools with very small number of students and they’re finding it not cost effective to keep teachers based in those schools. So, for example, we can remotely stream an educator who is teaching in a remote location or in a central location, to any location around the country, or even around the world. That allows economies of scale.
Through technology we can achieve economies of scale where one teacher in a studiocan teach more than one class at a time, such as small classes in remote areas. In those instances, customization becomes vital. We’re doing that in several countries in the Middle East right now.
Dr. ROD: Are you finding that educational systems around the world are getting better at understanding the financial component related to successful technology?
KEVIN: I think there’s a gradual shift. There are solutions to allow schools to spread the costs over time, instead of buying all the technology up front and it becoming a major item of capital expenditure. There are other models where the emphasis is on operating expense rather than capital expense. It’s a little bit like if you want a car, do you put all of your money up front and buy the car, or do you lease it, do you have a long-term rental agreement on the car, where all the headaches are taken care of by someone else? If your car breaks down, no problem, you get another one, you get a replacement car right? That way, it’s not your problem.
Dr. ROD: What is the number one need you’re hearing from your clientele around the world with regards to technology and what’s the number one challenge that they’re looking for technology to solve?
KEVIN: I think the number one challenge is to provide a learning environment for the 21st century students that is mobile, visual, virtual, social and accessible on any device at any time. That’s the big challenge.