Inspiring Brazil’s next generation of tech innovators with hybrid learning
Olivia Braga is a talented engineer and visionary.
But for many women in Brazil, she’s much more. She’s the person who changed their lives.
In addition to her work as a cloud architect at a major technology company, Braga devotes much of her time to teaching countless students and helping them launch their technology careers.
As a Cisco Networking Academy instructor, Braga is involved in Cisco’s Women Rock IT initiative. Through this initiative, Cisco Brazil offers free online networking technology courses for women across Brazil.
She’s also a founding member of the NGO Profissionalizando Vidas (Professionalizing Lives), a nonprofit technical vocational education and digital literacy institution that empowers low-income and marginalized people. In addition, she also teaches at three other institutions: Senac Consolação, Faculdade de Informática e Administração Paulista, and Academia Brasileira de Redes.
Reaching more students with hybrid learning
In her classes, Braga uses video conferencing via Webex to reach a broader group of students, including those who live in more remote areas of northern Brazil, for example.
“I currently use the hybrid format in universities and technical courses, as some students prefer to use the remote model due to the cost of transportation,” Braga said. “Transportation is extremely expensive, and can be uncomfortable or dangerous. Investing in high-speed internet in the comfort of home is a very viable alternative.”
Braga’s students come from all walks of life.
There’s the mom who’s balancing courses and caring for her kids. The 50-year-old who’s finishing her education later in life. The healthcare professional who’s switching to a career in tech. The young student who’s just starting her studies.
“We have people from all places, from all states and even from Portugal, from all social classes. Webex is a product that changes lives and breaks barriers. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can still learn.”Olivia Braga
Engaging learning experiences powered by Webex
Braga leverages various Webex features to enhance the learning experience for her students and make education accessible as possible.
“Webex’s features are amazing,” she said. “Every feature is carefully thought out, from removing background noise for a better listening experience to real-time translation that helps with meetings or classes with international students.”
The tool she finds herself using most often is screen sharing. Being able to see the students’ screens helps her understand where they’re getting stuck and make sure that they’re truly learning.
She also enjoys leveraging additional features like emojis and breakout sessions.
“Emojis help the presenter to better understand the audience and develop the class strategy. Breakout sessions are essential to divide the team into groups and work with project-oriented methodologies,” Braga said.
She also records classes so that students can watch whenever they have time. These asynchronous learning opportunities make the courses accessible to students who are juggling learning with work, childcare, or other responsibilities.
From passionate student to inspiring teacher
Braga empathizes with the challenges many of her students face on a very personal level.
She grew up in what she describes as a very poor, violent neighborhood in Brazil where her parents made their living by collecting cardboard and sweeping streets. As a teenager, she decided her local schools couldn’t give her the education she needed to achieve her goals. Instead, she enrolled in technology classes at the Bradesco Foundation, a Cisco Networking Academy. To get to school, she traveled for three hours, walking and taking public transportation.
“I traveled for those three hours because I was sure that it was going to be important for my life in the future,” Braga said.
Braga’s studies through the Cisco Networking Academy catalyzed a successful technology career that’s spanned nearly three decades, and she’s committed to helping the next generation of students thrive. And now, with hybrid and virtual learning opportunities powered by tools like Webex, many students in Braga’s position have fewer hurdles to getting the education they need to realize their dreams.
To hear more about Braga’s story and her work with students, see this video and this blog post. And contact us to learn more about how Webex can make a difference for students at your school, university, or nonprofit.
Mar 30, 2023 — Richard Barnes
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