Cisco is launching a version of WebEx for colleges and universities – one I wish I had access to throughout my academic career. The advanced modification on the successful Cisco platform is called WebEx Social for Higher Education – an integrated, cloud-based solution developed in conjunction with several leading institutions of higher education. The new offering integrates WebEx Social, WebEx Meetings and WebEx Messenger. The platform is delivered through the Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud, and is available to institutions of higher learning through a site license. Formerly known as Cisco Quad, WebEx Social is integrates social networking, content creation and real-time communications.
WebEx social is highly customizable – with it, users are able to:
- Change layouts
- Add portlets
- Open Social-compliant gadgets
- Include RSS feeds
- View an activity stream of updates from their network
- Monitor a Watch List to keep current with shared content
- Stay connected through multiple devices (i.e. tablet, smartphone)
Built for higher learning, WebEx Social also enables universities to dynamically manage access for large numbers of users through the use of Active Directory synchronization and Shibboleth authentication. More than simply a collaboration tool, Cisco's new offering is a 'social meeting place', capturing the essence of collegiate student life and academics in the cloud. Student's may engage material even if they are unable to make it to class for whatever reason that may be. After reading this, I immediately asked “how”. Well, the continuity of the learning process has been turned on it's ear, as professors can now pre-record lectures to be accessed later. As more details were obtained, I increasingly wished WebEx Social was in existence during my academic tenure, as I had a few occurrences involving family along with my personal well-being which kept me out of class, and essentially, out of the loop.