How smarter classrooms help train the digital world's workforce

A smart city embraces the opportunities from harnessing smart citizens, and influencing the next generation of our workforce is critical. As digital transformation and automation continue to present challenges for businesses and government, it also presents amazing opportunities.

Our global partner, Cisco, has been working hard in the region to advance concepts around the next generation classroom, and have education providers better connect and engage with students, regardless of the location. This case study with TAFE in Victoria is a perfect example of Cisco’s Smart Campus initiative, which continues to demonstrate multiple applications across precinct-scale development. — Adam Beck



South West TAFE, a New South Wales vocational education and training campus, will have 15 intelligent classrooms – thanks to Council Lead Partner Cisco and Australian mobile, broadband and satellite network provider Optus Business.

The $2.3 million upgrade is ambitious, but essential, said Optus Business Managing Director Bob Paitaridis. "In age of disruption we're seeing virtually every industry in Australia needing to train its workforce for the digital revolution. Today's announcement shows how organisations are partnering to align the skills of the next generation with those demand by forward-looking industries."

There's another important reason for the upgrade: automation is soaking up jobs in the region, explained South West TAFE Business Renewal Director Brad Henderson. "By partnering with Optus Business  we're now able to gear our courses and teaching methods to the jobs of tomorrow and improve access through connected classrooms. Our new solution makes education more accessible for students and teachers without sacrificing the collaborative nature of a traditional classroom environment."

Very connected classrooms
The 15 classrooms will get a significant upgrade with audience response and videoconferencing technology, including Cisco's WebEx and Jabber, that will enhance the opportunities for remote students to collaborate and participate fully. Servers have been moved to Cisco's Meraki wireless network to help remote students more than 200 km from the campus.

Last year Cisco and Optus co-invested $12 million in a three-year commitment to projects related to vocational education, cloud orchestration and smart campuses. The two companies also are working together on developing a "smart workplace" for government and enterprise customers that involves cloud, collaboration and infrastructure technologies.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.