April 05, 2022

Article
3 min

Webex Helps Institutions Create Virtual Learning Communities

Cisco’s collaboration platform offers user-friendly design and easy integration for hybrid learning.

James Wiciak

As a collaboration platform, Cisco Webex embodies two concepts that are essential for hybrid learning: simplicity and engagement. Cisco has continued to refine its platform to enhance its features and make it easier to use. Students appreciate features that simplify interactions with other participants, while instructors can put the platform to work quickly and easily.

Another important feature is that Webex is useful for institutions of all sizes. Because Webex meetings no longer have to be hosted on an onsite server, the platform is affordable for smaller schools. Rather than making a large capital investment for supporting infrastructure, institutions simply obtain the number of subscriptions they need.

Let’s look at three ways that Cisco Webex works to support hybrid learning.

Webex’s Real-Time Supports and Breakout Rooms Facilitate Engagement

One of the biggest challenges in remote learning is keeping students engaged. Transforming an online class into a virtual learning community is much smoother when classmates find it easy to interact. Including all learners is also essential. For both objectives, small touches go a long way to bring remote users into the learning experience.

In Webex, real-time closed captioning supports students who are hearing impaired or who learn more effectively by reading. Real-time foreign language translation serves students whose primary language is not English. Hand gestures let participants clap and raise their hands, while helping professors gauge their students’ attention.

With Webex breakout rooms, students can work in small groups, and professors can jump in and out of groups easily. If a student sends a chat message to the professor, the professor will receive a notification so he or she can respond to that group. Instructors can also set parameters — for instance, five groups with four students each — and ask Webex to divide students accordingly. To reinforce digital citizenship, built-in keyword detection alerts instructors if a group conversation has veered into inappropriate territory so they can respond quickly.

Webex Devices Complement the Virtual Learning Experience

In addition to accessing Webex on laptops and mobile devices, users also have the option of using Webex Boards and the Webex Desk series. 

In classrooms, the Webex Board and Webex Board Pro are all-in-one interactive displays that fit seamlessly into class collaborations, with features such as digital writing, screen capture, file sharing and on-screen annotations. The professor can write on the whiteboard in the classroom, and remote students can contribute by annotating and highlighting. 

Webex Board setup is easy: If a professor has already set a schedule for the semester, he or she simply walks into the classroom. The board recognizes that it’s time for class, which will start with a click of a button. For professors’ offices, Cisco’s Webex Desk series are all-in-one collaboration devices, including interactive screens with HD video.

Ease of Use Makes Cisco Webex a Win for Instructors and IT

The simplicity of Webex generally enables professors to handle setup and configuration on their own, so IT teams are likely to receive fewer troubleshooting requests. With a couple of clicks, IT teams can integrate the Webex platform into resources their instructors use every day such as learning management systems, and use it to set virtual office hours. This user-friendly design eases the burden on IT staff and increases adoption among instructors. 

Some educators and students may prefer in-person learning, but institutions need the flexibility to deliver high-quality remote learning when they have to. By minimizing the differences between the experiences of learning at home and in a classroom, platforms such as Cisco Webex can help to sustain a consistent and engaged learning community. 

Story by James Wiciak