The appearance of the coronavirus pandemic on the world stage at the beginning of 2020 left our sense of certainty about the future course of the global economy in total disarray. The unprecedented lockdowns and the attendant economic shutdown forced enterprises and institutions in every field to urgently seek completely different ways of getting things done, with social distancing and the wearing of masks becoming the rule pretty much everywhere. In this new paradigm, the higher education sector is no exception.
The 5 Big Challenges Facing Higher Education Today
The challenges faced by the higher education sector in the “new normal” are many, but here we will concentrate on five specific areas.
The Modern Campus
With the rapid pace of change and the introduction of new technologies, colleges must remain competitive while providing a high quality of education. Because many institutions are burdened by aging infrastructure, in terms of both technology and buildings, the number one issue facing higher education right now is refreshing the learning environment to usher in the types of technologies and work styles that students may expect to encounter in the workforce. This includes things like cloud-based platforms, video-based interactions, digital signage, modern work desks, identifying systems for card readers or badged access, remote and secure access to learning resources, and changes to how information is consumed.
IT Departments Doing More with Less
Because many institutions of higher education are competing for limited funds, many institutions are weighing the risk of sweating legacy assets for yet another year while trying to stay current with their technology. This situation is further exacerbated by public funding constraints, the rising cost of tuition and the increased cost of running the modern campus. Colleges are having to look very carefully at what can be turned off to transition budgets to new technology, while also moving from CAPEX models to subscription-based OPEX models.
Reliance on Legacy Communications Platforms
Creating a remote learning experience that is engaging enough to appeal to today’s generation of students is certainly possible. To do so, however, requires a frank assessment of an institution’s current telecommunications and collaboration infrastructure. Unfortunately, too many colleges still rely on legacy communications platforms and antiquated technologies, preferring to focus – quite understandably – on providing a superior student experience in terms of bricks and mortar. All too often, aging legacy network elements are unsuitable technological foundations for successful remote learning solutions, which are based on either paper or manual processes or aging technology.
No Unified Communications, No Collaboration
Without the vital telecommunications and network infrastructure in place, the benefits of unified communications (UC) remain a distant dream. UC solutions have the potential to absolutely transform the manner in which students and staff interact with each other in real time – through voice, instant messaging, desktop sharing and video – enhancing the quality of information and the shared experience. Doing this in a secure manner, protecting both intellectual property and privacy, is a concern, which is why public or consumer facing platforms can create issues (such as the shadow IT phenomenon). Productivity and engagement is hugely improved thanks to quick response times, while genuine collaboration and access between widely dispersed groups becomes a reality through the adoption of a single, easy-to-deploy platform.
But Which Unified Communications Platform?
After being convinced by the incredible potential of UC solutions to revolutionize the way their students learn and their staff communicate, colleges need to decide which UC solution best meets their needs. Some institutions are going for Zoom, others feel that Microsoft Teams is the best fit, while more traditional platforms like Blackboard continue to provide a variety of digital capabilities. For remote learning purposes, Zoom offers simplicity and ease-of-use, as well as transparent pricing and usage plans. It is easy to set up, use and manage, with seamless connection from desktop clients, browsers, mobile devices and conference rooms. For faculty and staff communication and collaboration, Microsoft Teams is an ideal choice. Institutions can create their own collaborative hubs with group chat, online meetings, calling and web conferencing, as well as easily share important files and documents.
Making Great Technology Even Better
In our present day context, the widespread introduction of new platforms and resources to safeguard learning continuity can quite possibly be viewed as the most radical experiment ever seen in educational technology. We at AudioCodes are perfectly placed to help colleges and universities attract the best students, with a suite of products and solutions designed to complement and enhance the Microsoft Teams and Zoom experience.
AudioCodes Live for Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive portfolio of fully managed services designed to eliminate complexity from the integration of Teams collaboration, unified communications and enterprise telephony, while facilitating a smooth, rapid and cost-effective migration using existing PBXs and systems. Teams ensures that students and staff are always on the same page with private and group chat, online meetings, calling and web conferencing. Lectures can be recorded with Mia, AudioCodes’ unique in-meeting voice assistant, to maintain the high quality of teaching that today’s students expect. In addition, Teams makes collaboration easy with built-in Office 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and SharePoint.
AudioCodes One Voice for Zoom is a unified offering of voice connectivity and productivity solutions that deliver simplicity and enhanced functionality for Zoom Phone deployments. The offering includes AudioCodes’ session border controllers for easy connectivity with bring-your-own-carrier (BYOC) services and coexistence with legacy PBXs, IP phones and Room Experience devices for an intuitive meeting experience, and network and services management solutions for operating everything efficiently.
Want to help your students reach the top of the class?