How higher education benefits from advanced phone systems

Posted by Kimberley Drobny, Vice President, Marketing

July 28, 2015; 3:30 PM

Most higher education institutions are a hotbed of activity on a constant basis. From running classes to managing students to coordinating athletics programs, administrators at small to medium-sized colleges can be counted on to consistently have their hands full. And unfortunately, if a school is not leveraging an advanced phone system, that simply creates one more problem with which administrators are saddled. Yet there are colleges out there whose communications systems are surprisingly outmoded. These schools invariably find it difficult to keep up with a world that communicates on so many different channels. For higher educational institutions, the implementation of advanced phone systems makes a world of difference in terms of day-to-day operations and cost savings at schools. Here are some examples that prove that: unnamed_12

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: According to a post on Inside Higher Ed, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign switched to a unified communications policy back in 2010. The move was prompted by a need to evolve past the school's outmoded legacy communications system, which was causing faculty and staff members alike to waste time. The reason time was being wasted under the legacy system is that staffers and faculty were having to use separate platforms for each communication solution, meaning that email, phones and calendars weren't synced up at all. 

The school's UC system changed that by providing a single platform for all methods of communication. Among other things, this enabled faculty to reply to emails via their phone, access their voice messages from the desktops of their computers, and connect with co-workers via a presence function. By phasing out an ineffective system and introducing a new and highly efficient communicative method, the school was able to save time and money. 

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater: As EdTech reported, UW-Whitewater was able to leverage a business phone system to increase its visibility as an educational institution and encourage more cohesive communications within the university. As Elena Pokot, university CIO and assistant vice chancellor for instructional, communication and information technology, pointed out, the move to UC has "enabled us to do things we could not do without it. It really is the ability to overcome the issue of distance." Thanks to the implementation of the communications platform, the university's distance learning program has flourished. And thanks to TelePresence, which allows virtual meetings to be conducted, students or faculty in remote locations can enjoy face-to-face time with people back on campus. 

California Baptist University: Within the span of around two years, CBU in Riverside, California experienced a quadrupling in the number of students taking online courses. The reason for this dramatic surge was that the university had instated a UC system that made taking online classes simple. Among other benefits, the UC solution leveraged by CBU enabled top-tier streaming video quality, which allowed students attending remotely to watch a lecture with crystal clarity. 

"Education isn't about a physical classroom anymore," said Tran Hong, CBU's associate vice president of technology. "This UC [solution] allows us to reach out to our students anywhere in the world."

But CBU's move to UC led to more localized benefits too. Among these benefits was the fact that with the implementation of the solution, the school was able to link up with three neighboring California communities, opening up its classes (in virtual form) to students in these areas. 

As the examples of all three of these schools illustrate, implementing universities stand to benefit significantly from a UC program. The streamlining of many channels of communication enabled by UC helps pave the way for a more cohesive learning environment for both students and staff.

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Topics: technology, Unified Communications (UC)