Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

When it comes to tech, the student has become the teacher

March 3, 2017

“I guess he’s an Xbox, and I’m more Atari.”

– Gnarls Barkley, Crazy, 2006 

It’s a fate that befalls us all. One day you’re up-to-date with the latest tech and the next you’re outdated and old news (Snapchat anyone?).

When you work with Generation Y or even Generation Z (post-millennials), particularly in a school environment, it’s a constant battle to stay ahead of rapid technological changes and in touch with the way students learn.

Teaching has always been about inspiring and educating children but the technology to enable it has changed dramatically. Generations Y and Z are regularly exposed to tech that our younger selves couldn’t have dreamed of…

Kids GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

While we were bragging about our Palm Pilots, wiling away the hours on a commodore (or Nintendo) 64 and espousing the benefits of Betamax over VHS, kids today have all of this and more in their smartphone and wearable tech. As a result, 21st century students expect their learning environment to be:

  • Personalised and customisable
  • Social and collaborative
  • Adaptable – anytime and anywhere
  • Durable and secure

Gone are the days of dusty blackboards, OHPs, and easily discarded homework planners. The cool kids are all talking about:

  • Online collaboration – Pupils today are more connected by technology than any generation before them. In 2017, social means ‘social media’, songs are shared in Spotify playlists, and fashion is copied from Pinterest and Instagram.
  • Virtual learning – The kids of the 80s and 90s were solo players (think Spider Solitaire and Minesweeper). Today’s student are used to playing and communicating virtually via multiplayer role-playing games.
  • Wireless and cloud-based tools – Generation Z in particular have grown up in a world where the internet is ever-present in their personal lives. Both students and teachers expect the same treatment at school.
  • Safe and reliable systems – Parents, pupils and staff understand internet security, or at least the dangers, and want to feel that their technology is reliable and their data is safe in the classroom.
  • Learning without limits – It’s crucial to enable teachers with the tech and tools they need to create a seamless teaching experience and truly inspire a modern audience. It’s also important to enable pupils to take responsibility for their own learning. Today, pupils can record, socialise and repurpose teaching to work at their own pace and in their own time. This has a massive impact on their ability to learn and gives students a better opportunity of grasping difficult concepts.

In this rapidly changing environment, the outdated tools that we grew to love (and, let’s be honest, sometimes loath) will no longer cut it. We need to ensure our students have access to a truly digital education that helps them achieve amazing things and prepare for the world of work.

Still, it’s a shame that the kids of today won’t experience the joy of Donkey Kong on the Nintendo NES or Snake on the frankly indestructible Nokia 3210. No reason you can’t enjoy a go on our retro game though – check out the quick-fire ‘Cisco Genius Generator’ .

Leave a comment


  1. Very interesting article. Is there a solution that you’re offering?

  2. Hi
    Just an inquiry please no hard sell I am in the process of setting up an online teaching business are there any benefits of using your Cisco system
    John Mead