When it comes to today’s higher-education experience, students and faculty alike expect the same experiences they have in the rest of their lives: They want immersive digital environments and rich collaboration opportunities, untethered to classrooms, libraries or dorm rooms. Increasingly, unified communications (UC) has emerged as a key enabling technology for creating this kind of 21st century college campus, built to mold students into the future leaders of an emerging global digital workforce.
Forward-thinking colleges and universities are embracing UC, with the aim of arming faculty – and sometimes the students themselves – with the tools they need to communicate, collaborate, think critically and use a broad array of media to gather information and gain awareness of the world around them.
UC applications can eliminate the distinctions between remote and in-person learning. For instance, students can attend classes or collaborate across campuses remotely, which is a significant boon for those with constricted access to transportation or scheduling conflicts. Also, instructors can design virtual classrooms and workgroups that can include members in different geographic regions and time zones; all members can communicate in real time and share materials seamlessly from any device.
UC can also allow students, professors and staff to more easily interact outside of the standard classroom or office-hours setting. Instant messaging tools and availability indicators allow a ubiquitous, “always-on” experience that supports better collaboration. For instance, if there’s a question about a project, it becomes easy to track down a professor or teaching assistant in the way that works best.
Enabling global relationships with other students, educators and business leaders is also part of the next-gen campus vision. Using a UC platform, colleges and universities can dynamically and cost-effectively connect students with instructors and mentors from across the globe, enriching the learning experience in ways that were never possible in the past.
In short, UC in the higher-education space is all about breaking down barriers to learning, enabling greater collaboration, and giving students the modern tools they need to most effectively use the educational resources at their disposal (including access to professors). In turn, campuses can attract top talent and encourage a more diverse student body.
It should also be noted that there are ancillary benefits for schools. On the back-end, colleges and universities are unifying voice and data, and embracing mobile apps, in an effort to increase productivity and reduce operating costs. Features like audio conferencing, instant messaging, and intuitive collaboration portals all streamline the business of running an institution of higher learning.
If your college or university is looking to attract the best and brightest with a forward-thinking 21st century campus, contact your TPx representative today for details on how we can help you leverage UC to meet today’s student expectations and drive operational efficiencies.