Unified communications are often put into the context of how it benefit enterprises. This is especially true for VoIP, which for the most part has supplanted traditional telephony. That said, VoIP's value proposition expands to a variety of sectors, not the least of which is education.
Let's take a look at some of the ways educational facilities can better serve students, faculty and staff by leveraging a reliable VoIP solution.
Improved internal communications
One of the most immediate benefits of VoIP is that it can be rapidly deployed as a cloud-based solution. This makes it especially useful in large settings that might not have the time or resources to lay the groundwork for VoIP – for example, at an institution for higher learning.
A large university setting with multiple departments and scattered facilities can leverage VoIP as a means to establish a reliable communication platform across the board. This can be extremely useful for administrative tasks, such as fielding questions for prospective students, sharing information between various campuses, departments and offices and also for creating faculty extensions.
VoIP can also serve as an emergency line of communication for universities. Resident assistants and others who are in charge of overseeing issues related to housing will have a reliable means of communication should a threat to a public safety arise.
Likewise, to guarantee that certain staff members, such as campus security, are reachable at all times, smartphones can become wireless IP phones by leveraging VoIP softphone technology. Many of these same benefits also apply to primary and secondary-schools, especially larger educational centers that have more than one location or building.
Telecommuting has become a household term. According to studies, the majority of professionals prefer to have the ability to work from outside the office. Many employees who do have this option have reported productivity gains.
Just as professionals should be able to maintain productivity levels in the event of inclement weather or a flat tire by being able to work from home, professors should have the option to attend courses remotely. Through the use of audio and video conferencing technology, a future where this happens is not far off. Modern VoIP infrastructure could hypothetically enable a professor to give a lecture remotely over a conferencing bridge, or via video conference. While many students revel in the occasional day off that might result from a professor traveling for research purposes, others are more prudently aware of the fact that they pay for each and every college course.
"Imagine a future in which there are no snow days."
Primary and secondary school levels can also reap the benefits of unified communications. Imagine a future in which there are no snow days. Students can still have assignments sent to them via email or through a shared online portal. Meanwhile, a teacher can leverage the university's VoIP solution to communicate provide assistance to students via softphone, or through wireless VoIP. Indeed this may be the future of primary education.
Throw video conferencing into the fray, and teachers may even be able to give virtual lessons with visual aids. Many universities have already gotten into the habit of recording lectures and posting them online, either as a student reference tool, or simply to make them available to a wider audience.
The use cases for VoIP are really only limited by imagination at this point. As the cornerstone of unified communications for so many companies, voice will continue play a vital role in the communication and collaboration capabilities of a diverse array of industries, education included.