Smart schools use modern classroom technology to create an improved learning experience, one that produces better outcomes for students. Smarter schools go a step further: They create an environment that fosters collaboration both inside and outside the classroom to benefit students, faculty and parents.
That’s not the only reason collaboration has been receiving more attention in the classroom over the past few years. Another is that employers consider collaboration to be a required skill for many jobs. The ability to work well with others in groups, share ideas and produce a meaningful outcome are essential skills for success. In fact, the Common Core Standards lists collaboration as a core competency.
Technology plays a central role in this collaboration effort, as students do most – if not all – of their research online, and even turn in many assignments through learning management systems, such as Google Classroom. Schools everywhere now look to unified communications for seamless access to collaboration tools that propel them to the head of class.
The claim: 4 ways collaboration tools earn schools higher marks
Extended learning environment: Audio, web and video conferencing eliminate boundaries and keep students and faculty connected in real time. Seamless API integration of learning management systems like Google Classroom, Quizlet and Gizmodo enhance the learning process and keep students and teachers connected outside the classroom.
Students can share notes, work together on school projects and improve their understanding of classroom concepts any time, day or night. They can get answers about homework and make up missed assignments when they’re absent. Integration of collaboration tools also opens opportunities for distance learning, tutoring and mentoring that were previously unavailable.
Improved productivity: Unified messaging empowers students and faculty to manage all types of messages from a single interface, whether it’s from a mobile device, tablet or desktop computer. Consolidated access to email and voicemail simplifies message management, improving the response time from faculty on inquiries from students and parents.
Better efficiency: Mass notifications enable school administrators to keep faculty, students and parents apprised of upcoming events, schedule changes and any emergency situations that may arise. Time-sensitive information and important updates reach all impacted parties quickly across a wide range of devices.
Support for mobility and BYOD: While a number of schools provide Chromebooks, others now support BYOD, which allows students to work on their personal devices in the classroom. BYOD support requires a self-contained, locally managed private mobile network that gives students the ability to securely access educational content and resources. Schools offering BYOD create an expanded learning environment, as students can roam from classroom to classroom while learning and access materials when it’s most convenient for them.
In addition, mobile support lets students communicate on their own terms. Faculty can offer extended help hours from the comfort of home and communicate with parents and students through their school phone number. That way, teacher privacy and confidentiality are respected.
The evidence: How 4 schools used collaboration tools to succeed
Raytown Quality Schools includes 25 facilities over 35 square miles. The district turned to a user-friendly UC solution that provided mobility and collaboration tools. Principals and administrators now have an in-office experience from any location, keeping the right people connected at all times.
College of William & Mary was using an antiquated system that was unreliable and unscalable. The college implemented a unified communications solution that integrated voicemail, email and calendars into a single interface along with access to a desktop softphone, saving time in the communications process across the campus.
Wauconda Community Unit School District moved from an eclectic mix of legacy systems to a collaborative unified communications system. Scott Cittadino, assistant superintendent of technology, said the solution allows the district to “communicate better and fosters more conversations between our community, students and staff.”
California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) implemented a video collaboration solution as part of its UC system. Touch screens, superior HD quality and advanced collaboration features boost productivity by making it easier for teams to work together. Face-to-face interaction makes collaboration more powerful.
The reason: Unified communications
Innovative collaboration tools such as video conferencing, BYOD support, mobility and LMS access open the door for spontaneous and natural connections between students, faculty and parents. Seamless integration of these tools into the communications system is possible with a reliable and scalable unified communications solution.
Schools interested in raising their grade on collaboration should look for a UC provider that offers advanced features coupled with simple installation and management. Support for open APIs makes customization possible, so schools can build a collaboration solution that meets its needs according to student demographics and size.
When collaboration tools become part of the learning environment, learning no longer begins and ends with the bell.