Being digitally social isn't a practice that's relegated to staying in touch with friends and family, it can extend to other areas, including education and skills training. That's where Cisco comes in. 

Everything Can be Social

Since its inception, people have been using the internet to communicate. While many people use sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as social communication tools, social and collaborative learning has also been making an impact within the social community.

According to a report from Ambient Research, the social learning side of the industry is becoming a profitable investment with an expected $US 5.5 billion investment by 2015. In addition, 35 percent of organizations are promoting the idea of social learning within their workplaces.

One of the social and collaborative learning leaders is Cisco, with their Cisco Learning Network. Jeanne Beliveau Dunn, Vice President and General Manager of Learning at Cisco spoke with CMSWire about their product and the educational side of social networking.

The Idea Behind Social Learning

Cisco looked at technological trends prior to the Learning Network’s launch in 2008. They found that while many people used the internet and related technology, a lot of these people didn't know much, if anything, about the tools and services they were using. Subsequently, many industry professionals were looking to improve their existing skills.

With this is mind, Cisco launched their educational environment: the Cisco Learning Network. Beliveau Dunn says the company didn't want to simply offer tutorials or webinars on various technical trends or products, but they wanted to combine these learning tools with the community module that social media sites have:

We think of it as a university for customers and partners who want to be in the networking business and learn about networking,” she says. “Our aim and our charter are to remove the barriers our customers have in their businesses through the use of next generation internet technology.”

When starting this project, Cisco originally brought in individuals to act as mentors and had an HR desk where people could look up education services and jobs. But it soon expanded the scope by reaching out to companies, sending information about the network to high schools and adding interactive features like message boards.

“When you’re building a community, it’s about the content," says Beliveau Dunn.  "People don’t just want technology tools, they want ways to connect and information.”

The Cisco Learning “University”

There are a variety of different tools, both paid and free, that Cisco offers its customers. Some of these include: