Colleges and universities have undergone a drastic technological transformation. Across multiple campuses, thousands of students are continually connected, working on multiple devices simultaneously. Because of this change, students, faculty and administrators alike have new needs – and new expectations – when it comes to communications technology.
A recent study of undergraduates and information technology found that 19 out of 20 undergrads own a laptop or smartphone while almost one-third own a laptop, smartphone and a tablet. The majority of professors use technology as part of the learning environment, but not enough put it to work for value-added efforts, such as engaging with students and fostering critical thinking. Increasingly, students favor a blended learning environment that has at least some components online.
The study’s results present colleges and universities with an opportunity. Robust and sophisticated unified communications systems enable them to provide the level of technological engagement undergraduates want.
A deeper dive demonstrates the many ways unified communications improves student outcomes and delivers innovation to your campus – and beyond.
How unified communications empowers students
Unified communications helps improve student outcomes in four ways:
Collaboration: Unified communications makes teamwork simple. Whether students are in different locations on campus or working remotely, they can easily communicate and collaborate. Sharing lecture notes, exchanging ideas and conducting research become simple with the integration of messaging and conferencing apps, G Suite and Outlook. Even students who are sick, working at an internship or traveling abroad can still participate in class sessions.
Mobility: Unified communications supports today’s mobility by keeping students connected at all times. As they move between classrooms, campuses or even off-campus, they can still access the university’s communications system through the school’s WAN. Full access to all tools is available regardless of device, location and network. Mobile apps keep distance learners engaged and a part of the larger university community. This has become more important as the number of remote students continues to increase: More than one in four students now take at least one distance education course.
Productivity: Audio, web and video conferencing enable students to communicate effectively, while messaging and other collaboration apps provide access to all of the necessary materials and resources needed to complete work efficiently. The added face-to-face benefit of video conferencing improves communication and productivity. Real-time communications keeps students informed of events and campus information.
Safety and security: Mass notifications enable campus administrators to issue emergency alerts in real-time whenever necessary. Campus police and security are notified when a 911 call is made, while built-in messaging allows texts to be sent from a desktop, creating more options if a crisis occurs.
Colleges and universities need these key UC features
IP communications that permit students to work remotely at any location within reach of WAN, LAN, Wi-Fi and broadband networks.
Audio, web and video conferencing integrated into the communications system.
Unified messaging that allows users to manage all voicemail boxes from a single interface and access their messages anytime, anywhere and from any device.
Multimedia outbound notification so faculty and staff can remind students about events, deadlines and emergency situations.
Open APIs that allow colleges and universities to build solutions tailored to their campus size and needs A flexible architecture allows schools to easily expand and add services as needs change and scale down during the quieter summer sessions.
Dynamic extensions that support students’ multimedia dependence. A user’s profile can be associated with multiple devices. Users can manage the presence of each device to fit their work pattern, so students and faculty are always reachable regardless of where they are working and which device they’re using.
College and university students require a sophisticated communications system that provides collaboration, personalization and integration. UC enables universities to deliver all of the tools and support students need to complete their academic work efficiently, communicate effectively and be kept safe.
When these critical capabilities are available within the academic environment, students are enabled to maximize scores and universities can attract top academic talent well into the future.