Education Can Change The World (5 Ways Tech) – Tae Yoo

Twenty years ago, Cisco recognized a shift toward a knowledge-based economy. We felt it was important that everyone have an opportunity to participate in this economy—and that education, combined with technology, would have the power to achieve that. From this, Cisco Networking Academy was born.

What began as an act of community turned into a global movement as schools, students, and teachers were inspired to harness the power of technology to provide the skills people and businesses need to thrive in the digital economy.

Today, we look back at how this IT-and-career-skills-building program has reached 7.8 million students in 180 countries since 1997 and highlight best practices and lessons we’ve learned along the way.

1. Adapt to technology trends and ensure programs are digital, flexible, hands on, and relevant.

Technology is transforming the nature of jobs and continuously evolving the needs of today’s employers. New technologies are connecting everything, intuitively adapting, and better protecting users and their data. Research from Gartner shows that 1.4 million full time employees will be needed to deliver application and business services for the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020, and education programs must prepare students for these changing needs.

Today, we provide students a more personalized and flexible education experience, as well as the opportunity to build deeper knowledge through collaboration and experiential learning. In addition to classroom-based, face-to-face instruction, we also offer a portion of our curricula directly to students for those who want to learn at their own pace.

From the start, students are encouraged to solve real-world problems on their own or in groups, just as they will in the workplace. For example, Cisco’s Packet Tracer, a network simulation and visualization tool, allows for student-directed, open-ended network building.

It facilitates the teaching and learning of complex technology concepts and promotes the development of essential career skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. Additionally, hackathons and hands-on lab challenges allow students to create solutions together.

2. Continuously introduce new digital skills.

Changes in the technology landscape mean students need to continuously master new digital skills. Technical education programs today must include areas of study such as security, machine learning, and programming, and evolve as technology does.

We partner with in-house experts, governments, educational institutions, and employers, and use research to ensure our curricula portfolio remains relevant over the long term. Networking Academy builds a solid digital foundation through courses like Cybersecurity Training Essentials and Programming Essentials in C, and students can also acquire career-ready skills that prepare them for entry-level jobs in networking and cybersecurity.

We regularly develop new courses that cover big data, analytics, and device connectivity, some of the fastest-growing job areas. Our learning portfolio strategy, the material we create and teach, has recently been broadened to include cloud security, automation, and machine learning to better prepare our students for today’s digital workforce.

Additionally, Networking Academy builds the capacity of instructors through instructor training centers and ongoing professional development. Based on survey feedback, instructors said that their involvement with Networking Academy has helped them become better educators, broaden their careers, and develop professional relationships.

3. Build an inclusive program.

By leveraging both traditional and non-traditional education channels, education programs can reach a more diverse set of students. Current education cost models can be prohibitively expensive, and we must focus on programs that provide affordable and accessible education to all, regardless of socio-economic background, geographic location, gender, or life stage.

Networking Academy courses are offered at high schools, universities, and community colleges, and through partnerships with governments and ministries of education. We target individuals looking to launch their careers, re-skill, or find new jobs.

We reach traditionally underserved communities such as remote populations and people with diverse abilities. Over the past decade, more than 3,000 students with disabilities have benefited from Networking Academy courses.

4. Scale impact through public-private partnerships.

Effective and strategic public-private partnerships between business, government, and academia are critical in providing access to and support for instructors, reaching students at scale, and ensuring curricula is providing relevant skills for today’s workforce.

While educational partners can provide instructors, classrooms, lab equipment, and help attract students to the program, business partners can enhance the program with curricula, online assessments, a learning management system, hands-on labs and competitions, instructor professional development, and connections to job opportunities.

Networking Academy’s global reach depends on the 22,000 instructors at more than 10,400 educational institutions who deliver our curricula worldwide. Our partners are at the forefront of new teaching methods and resources, delivering not only technical training, but also the problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills students need to get a job or start a business.

Technology—specifically a cloud-scale platform—has been critical to achieving a wide reach as well. Using the latest technologies and architecture drives performance and provides a rich experience for students, instructors, and administrators.

5. Set students up for career success.

There is currently a mismatch between the skills employees have and the skills companies need. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.7 million people across the country are unemployed, though 5.8 million unfilled jobs were available.

Nearly half of U.S. employers can’t find qualified candidates, with many citing a lack of technical skills as a top reason. In the IT industry that number is worse, with 86 percent of hiring managers challenged to find people with the right skills. Connecting student to employers is a vital step in closing this gap.

Networking Academy provides students with a range of career support services—from webinars to career advice to career-pathway options. Cisco has a strong ecosystem of 60,000 global partners, and for the past 20 years our students have found jobs with many of them.

We recently began pilot testing a talent-matching engine to more easily connect students with partner employment opportunities. More than 70 percent of our students who complete advanced courses go on to obtain a new or better job, increased responsibilities, and/or higher pay.

Networking Academy not only equips students with digital skills, it empowers students to become global problem solvers. Our program is designed to enable students to innovate as technologists, think as entrepreneurs, and act as social change agents. They are prepared to help businesses grow and flourish, but also to start their own businesses or address pressing global challenges.

We hope that our students’ inspirational stories incite others to harness the power of technology and become global problem solvers.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

How To Transform Problem Solving – Cheryl Capozzoli

Technology has become vital to our day-to-day lives and critical in the K-12 classroom. In a tech-saturated market, parents of our students have raised questions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact their future careers.

Whether you believe AI has potential to meet or surpass human intelligence, it is imperative that we equip students with skills to match the nearing demands of the future workplace. Computational thinking (CT) is the latest skill set that addresses the demands of the future workplace.

CT enables us to analyze and process data algorithmically, and often visually. CT offers a process for problem-solving, where one develops a series of steps (an algorithm) to solve open-ended problems. Put simply, it’s a framework to approach problems like a computer would: by processing data in a well-defined series of steps.

Harrisburg School District implements a 5th “C”

By introducing our students and staff to CT as a thought process, we have been able to provide skills to more deeply engage in problem solving. Many standards identify the 4Cs of 21st-century skills—critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration—as the most vital skills needed for success today.

If educators and students begin using CT as a more systematic way of thinking about solving real-world problems, the better we can prepare our students for a future in computer science or STEM. At Harrisburg School District in Pennsylvania, we have taken initiative to teach the CT skill to our K-12 students. After all, computation is how the world around us operates.

Rallying staff, student, and parent support

With a clear, district wide goal in mind, we partnered with Discovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services to support our vision for equity in STEM. The Ignite My Future In School initiative is a five-year commitment to transform the way our students learn. We adapted the program’s curriculum, career vignettes, and teacher training in collaboration with staff, students, and parents. With an emphasis on equity, we designed an approach that demonstrates our dedication to all support systems that surround our students.

Before integrating CT into curriculum, we hosted a professional learning day with staff to introduce the nature of computational thinking and computer science. The day was dedicated to exploring methods to engage our students in deeper levels of thinking and learning across subjects. Following this, we invited parents to share our experiences in an open and friendly environment. We introduced parents to CT and shared resources and games to enforce concepts at home.

Exploring cross-curricular connections

The key to successfully integrating a CT program is to start simple. We’ve found that basic data sets are a great way to introduce CT concepts to students. Data.gov offers information collected by the U.S. government in nearly every topic imaginable. Find more free resources here.

Curriculum Connector activities assist our staff in creating engaging lessons and tasks in which students learn to use the seven key CT strategies. Students are required to collect, analyze, and decompose data so that they can better understand large amounts of information. This helps them to see the larger picture to create designs that solve complex problems.

Students are also encouraged to use models to design algorithmic computing methods to create a model or a simulation. For example, our eighth-grade students recently used CT to design a SMART tiny home to become comfortable with the “CT mindset.”

For educators looking to introduce CT concepts into curriculum, be prepared to make continuous changes to your lessons. Embrace the fact that CT is prone to change as technology changes. Leave room for adjustments in your curriculum from year to year.

Our 6th “C”: commitment

Computational thinking is a new way to process information within our school community, but we are excited to have embarked on this journey because we know that it is vital for our students to be successful thinkers, problem solvers, inventors, scientists, and divergent 21st-century leaders.

We want to empower students with the confidence that they are fully capable of approaching an unfamiliar problem independently and solving the challenges most important to them. Through our continued work and partnership, we will sustain our priority to provide a modern and equitable education to all students.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

Facebook Tests Search Engine for Influencer Marketing – Genevieve Dietz

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Facebook is tapping into the growing popularity of influencer marketing by testing a new tool that will match marketers with social media influencers.

The search engine, still in its early developmental stages, will be dubbed “Branded Content Matching.” It will let marketers choose creators based on their fan’s characteristics, see stats about their audience, and reach out to them to forge partnership deals and collaborations.

Facebook will initially be focusing on lifestyle influencers and brands. Creators that choose to participate in the test can set up a portfolio that includes their audience size, metrics, and branded content samples – ensuring a perfect influencer/marketer fit.

Marketers will also be able to search for creators based on numerous audience demographics including age, gender, education history, life events, relationship status, home type, top countries where they’re popular, and more. Based on this information, the search engine will compile a list of creators that shows how their audience aligns with a brand’s.

Marketers can save their top matches to private lists where they can go to contact them later. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is still debating whether or not it will connect marketers with influencers through their Facebook contact info or provide traditional contact info.

Facebook is Banking on Increased Ad Spend

Facebook will take a laissez-faire approach to influencer/marketer negotiations. They will not be involved in product placement, content marketing, or collaborated content creation and sharing deals. TechCruch reports that Facebook will not take any cut of revenue during the testing period but may once the search engine is officially launched.

It’s possible that marketers may be compelled to spend more on ads to promote influencer content so Facebook will get their revenue cuts that way. TechCrunch also mentioned that Facebook will prohibit re-sharing deals so marketers will not be able to pay influencers to post branded content they didn’t help create.

It’s important to mention that the search engine will only pull influencer’s audience metrics from Facebook and will not take into account their YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, or any of their other channel followings. This could prove to be detrimental to brands looking to connect with influencers who are more popular on another platform.

For example, marketers won’t be able to get the true value and reach of popular Youtube creators like FBE (Fine Brothers Entertainment), Jenna Marbles, Markiplier, or Vanoss Gaming (to name a few) who have enormous followings on Youtube but lower audience bases on Facebook.

“Branded Content Matching” Will Not Include Instagram (For Now)

Even though Facebook owns Instagram, one of the more popular platforms amongst influencers and creators, they will not be including Instagram influencers on the search engine either (at least not at first).

Considering that Facebook currently allows marketers to create and promote ads on Facebook and Instagram within the same ad creator, the move is questionable. The company may add Instagram influencers to “Branded Content Matching” later on but for now, this decision severely limits the search engine.

“Branded Content Matching” is still in its early testing stages so there are plenty of kinks that still need to be smoothed out. Once the search engine has launched, it’s likely that brands will jump at the opportunity to forge mutually beneficial relationships with artists, comedians, gamers, and other creators.

A Word on the Timelessness of Influencer Marketing

What makes influencer marketing so priceless is that creators are able to put an inspired spin on a branded message in their own wholly original way. From a simple one minute shoutout to an entire sponsored video dedicated to your brand, handing the reins to a social media influencer in your niche could showcase your brand in a positive, authentic, and less salesy, light.

For example, special fx makeup artist Madeyewlook recently created an entire look made in partnership with a TV show and popular Youtube creators Dan and Phil created a sponsored ‘let’s play’ video on their gaming channel. Check out both videos below.

Both videos were well received and none of the commenters seemed to care that the videos were technically ads. The possibilities for influencer marketing are endless and it remains one of the best ways to promote content in an engaging, fun, and natural way.

Whether you’re looking to negotiate million dollar deals with the world’s top social media creators or build a mutually beneficial partnership with a content marketing thought leader, influencer marketing can get your brand in front of thousands of faces.

People tend to buy into branded messages more when they are authentic and when they come from people they trust. Oftentimes, social media creators have intimate, strong, relationships with their fans.

Because most creators are so open to sharing aspects of their personal lives with their fans, their audience can usually tell when they are interested in a product they’re promoting or if it’s just a job to them. The more freedom you give to an influencer to re-contextualize your branded message, the more likely their audience will like and respect you.

If you play your cards right and give enough freedom to influencers to promote your brand in their own unique style, a one-off could turn into an ongoing sponsorship and your brand’s reach could skyrocket.

Final Thoughts

Influencer marketing is lucrative, timeless, and more relevant than it’s ever been. This is why Facebook, and other platforms, are so eager to give brands and influencers tools that make it easy for those relationships to bloom.

In an age where social media influencers are trusted more than movie stars, it’s never been more important for brands to be in touch with internet culture and collaborate with emerging creators. Stay current and your audience, and views, will thank you for it.

For more on influencer marketing check out Chad Pollitt’s article, “Everything You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing and Artificial Intelligence,” and review some of his influencer marketing templates here.

Do you think Facebook’s “Branded Content Matching” tool will make influencer marketing easier? Let us know in the comments.

New Technologies Allow You to Do Business (and Compete) From Anywhere – Amarillo

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Everyone knows just how much of an impact technology has had on global business, but if there’s one segment that has benefited the most from technological innovation it’s entrepreneurs. With mobile phones, cloud computing, do-it-yourself accounting software and ubiquitous connectivity, business owners can now create successful companies quickly and from anywhere.

However, with so much technology out there, it can be hard to know what programs and tools are essential for getting a company off the ground and growing. There are some must-haves, though, including these five types of tech.

Super-Size Your Storage

In today’s world, most budding businesses need far more storage than their computers can provide. Things like high-resolutions photos, data-heavy PowerPoints and an endless stream of documents will max out CPU storage in no time. Fortunately, cloud-based companies like Dropbox, Box, Apple and Google offer several terabytes of data for a reasonable monthly cost.

These programs also make collaboration easier as you can quickly share files and folders with contractors and employees. Thanks to these storage sites that many small companies can create a global workforce from the start.

Keep Up With Collaboration

Whether you’re in an office or have a remote workforce located in different cities, being able to collaborate and connect with staffers quickly is a must. Over the last few years, sites like Slack, Basecamp, Trello and others have revolutionized the way small business employees interact with one another.

Forget e-mail–you can now send messages to individuals or teams in an instant, you can work together, in real-time, on complex projects, and you can even build camaraderie by creating “channels” dedicated to more social communication. Messages and files are also easily searchable, making it difficult to lose something important.

Crunch The Numbers

As excited you may be about your brilliant idea, you still need to run a business. That means keeping receipts, adding up bills, doing taxes and other more mundane work. While it may still be a good idea to have an accountant nearby, technology can, and should, take care of most of this work.

Quicken, the classic accounting software, is still popular for tax work, but other programs like Wave Accounting, Xero and Zoho Books come with a variety of features like invoicing, payroll, bill payments and other mission critical applications and fall well within the budgets of most small businesses.

Show Your Face

Instant messaging and email only goes so far. In many cases, you still want to see clients or employees face-to-face–maybe you have to walk them through a presentation or just want to catch up. That’s why having a good video program is critical for small businesses today.

You’ll want to find software that allows you hold meetings with multiple participants, share files with people on a call and you may want to be able to record conferences for future viewing. Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Zoom.us and GoToMeeting are just some of the popular video conferencing sites to choose from. While it may not be quite as good as a face-to-face meeting, it saves a fortune in travel costs and wear and tear.

Set Up A Store

There was once a time when creating a consumer-focused e-commerce website was a painstaking process. Now, though, sites like Shopify and Tictail let even the smallest companies create sleek websites with all the e-commerce fixings. Companies like these have been a boon to entrepreneurs-

They let users create online shops in snap and take a variety of payment options, such as credit card and PayPal, so that every potential customer can buy what you’re selling. It only takes a few hours to get a store up and running and turn your company into a potentially global business.

While there are plenty of other useful technologies out there–security software, customer relationship management programs and so on–incorporate these five tools into your budding business and you could find yourself ahead of the competition in no time.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5 you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

3 Ways to Help Learners Find Their Own Answers Before Asking You

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Teachers strive to help learners find their own answers by doing one thing—giving them the skills to do so. Although this seems like a tall order, in reality it’s simpler than you think. Part of it resides in ensuring students know they have options for this.

Exploring these options is the essence of philosophy of 3B4ME. If you haven’t heard of it, we discovered it on Adam Schoenbart’s blog. It’s an ingenious way to help learners find their own answers using simple paths to discovery. Using this strategy, learners can seek answers on their own—and usually find them—before needing to resort to asking a teacher.

We encourage our learners to think critically and act independently to solve problems every day. The Essential Fluencies help with this, but so do simple tools like 3B4ME. The graphic below from Pinterest offers a great visual sample of how it works. From Adam’s blog article:

“Sometimes, a student has a question that is ready for the teacher and truly needs the expert response. More often, though, students need a push to revisit notes, rethink the issue, and consider the problem from a new angle.”

3B4ME works to help learners find their own answers before asking a teacher with suggestions like:

  • Ask three friends
  • Explore there different resources
  • Take 3 different tutorials
  • Formulate three exploratory questions
  • Visit three websites

These are some possible avenues that can be taken that can help learners find their own answers. Additionally, the possibilities expand when you use these suggestions and others in different combinations.

Enjoy the graphic, and keep on encouraging learners to explore and discover answers and solutions.

by | May 4, 2018

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