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Cisco Prepares Higher Education Market to Seize Two Leading Tech Trends: Web 2.0 and Interoperable Communications


Network Emerging as the New Data Center Hub, Aiming to Enable Next Level of Collaboration on Campuses

SEATTLE, WA (EDUCAUSE).- Cisco is responding to two significant technology trends sweeping college and university communities as educators and administrators strive to meet the needs of students accustomed to a media-rich, mobile lifestyle, while at the same time working to strengthen campus security via interoperable communications.

Today, many students are digital natives, Web 2.0 consumers who expect their college or university to create a collaborative experience that integrates familiar technologies such as podcasting and on-demand video into their learning environment. Three of four young adults download and view Internet videos daily according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and Burst Media reports that college students spend more time online than they do using any other form of media, including TV and radio.

Additionally, schools are quickly moving to streamline campus communications not only to prepare for disaster responses but also to bolster efficient day-to-day operations that save university officials time and money.

To help enable this level of connectivity, communication and collaboration in higher education, Cisco sees the network emerging as the cornerstone of the data center. Cisco’s vision for next-generation data centers, termed Data Center 3.0, forecasts that the network will become the core of a data center’s infrastructure with virtualization and automation becoming the primary methods for optimizing application performance, service levels, efficiency and collaboration.

At the University of California at Berkeley, a study of incoming freshman revealed that students ranked podcasting to be just as important as wireless Internet and access to e-mail. Video podcasting storage and distribution via Apple iTunes U and YouTube required a scalable network for Berkeley’s open content initiative, webcast.berkeley.

“The Cisco network is the nerve center for our podcasting initiative,” said Adam Hochman, project manager at the University of California at Berkeley’s Education Technology Services. “Since we launched the offering in 2006, overall we saw 2 million downloads of our podcasts in the first year alone from our iTunes U channel. We have had 650,000 views in the first two weeks of our YouTube channel launch. Interest in our content has exploded.”

Arizona State University, when building its new downtown campus, decided to migrate from a traditional phone infrastructure to Internet Protocol (IP) telephony via a converged network to support voice, video and data applications. Within six months, new campus classrooms were equipped for video on-demand, and the 3,500 students had Cisco IP phones in their dorm rooms, which not only save time and money, but can also be used as a paging system to broadcast emergency announcements.

“Our investment in networking technology is aligned with our goal to become a top research university and model for twenty-first century learning,” said Adrian Sannier, chief technology officer at Arizona State University. “Since moving to a Cisco converged network, faculty and student productivity has improved, and we’ve saved money by reducing management costs.”

Bryant University, in Smithfield, R.I., by deploying Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS), used the network to enhance its campus security by linking disparate campus radio systems with IP phones and PCs so that the school could directly and efficiently communicate with town agencies during an emergency. Because the campus and various first-responder agencies used different radio frequencies, they could not interoperate to coordinate a timely response.

“Moving to an IP infrastructure where our radios communicate over the network has made the university a model for campus security,” said Art Gloster, vice president for information services at Bryant University. “Indeed, voice interoperability not only benefits us during an emergency, it has streamlined our day-to-day communications - from students locked out of rooms to university officials working from home who need to contact campus staff.”

The proliferation of new Internet technologies and multimedia offerings has created tremendous challenges for the higher education market as it moves to meet student expectations and create innovative learning opportunities. In a study of college students, the Educause Center for Applied Research found that nearly 64 percent thought information technology (IT) in courses improved their learning, while 55 percent agreed IT made them better collaborators with peers.

“Across the country, educational institutions of all sizes are utilizing their networks to improve security and make Web 2.0, multimedia and virtual presence technologies available to students and faculty,” said Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Ph.D., higher education lead at Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. “Schools like the University of California at Berkeley, Arizona State University and Bryant University are leading educational institutions that recognize that the traditional barriers between physical and virtual learning and research must be erased to support a next-generation learning environment.”

Charles Fadel, global lead for education at Cisco, noted that students are driving this network evolution.

“Just as we’ve seen an influx of consumer technologies into the workplace, students are setting their university’s IT agenda by demanding access to the same Internet services that they enjoy at home,” said Fadel. “How this trend plays out in higher education depends on how successfully a school takes advantage of the network’s full potential.”


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