Improving interaction between students and staff is crucial for universities to keep pace
Unified communications is vital in helping universities maximise staff and student communications and collaboration
As increasingly technology-savvy generations enter higher education, universities need to offer a more holistic range of communications tools to aid student learning and increase engagement between students and staff, and thereby maintaining a positive level of student-staff collaboration and interaction. This is according to cloud services provider Outsourcery.
Universities have always been at the forefront of technological development and are widely expected to bring new ways of improving the student experience to the table as a matter of course. But the movement of the always-on generation into higher education means universities need to do more to keep up with students’ expectations when it comes to communicating with staff and each other.
Paul Todd, Public Sector Lead at Outsourcery, commented: “Traditionally, universities and higher education institutions have always been quick to adopt technology for the benefit of their students, with universities often being the inception point for many new communication tools. However, many are being held back by ageing legacy communications infrastructure that no longer meets the needs of staff, administrators or students, and a lack of consensus amongst departments as to the best solution. With convenience and a positive, flexible user experience becoming ever more important, universities have an opportunity to raise student satisfaction by facilitating more efficient engagement between students and staff, thereby creating a common experience across the whole estate irrespective of device or channel.
A solution such as Skype for Business eases daily communication through seamless integration across communication channels with instant messaging and presence, video conferencing, email, online meetings and telephony capabilities.
Paul Todd, Public Sector Lead at Outsourcery
"This makes it possible to deploy a broader and more flexible range of options for academic staff to support students. Conventional lectures and tutorials can be supplemented by online meetings and webinars for up to 250 participants, or lectures can be broadcast to up to 10,000 people anywhere in the world. Presenters can share their screen or upload slides, share additional documents and engage with attendees by using the whiteboard, polls and Q&A features. Teaching content can also be recorded for future use or to share with attendees.”
Todd believes that acting strategically in choosing a common platform across the whole campus will facilitate increased choice in initiatives such as BYOD and make omni-channel communication and collaboration more effective, in the face of an increasingly tech-savvy student population.
He added: “An example of this increasing reliance on technology is the growth of BYOD on university campuses, which has become commonplace over the past few years. Unified communications can enhance a BYOD policy, by making it possible for interactions between students and staff to take place at any time and on any device, through the use of a single application.”
Todd concluded: “Universities have a proud tradition of always having one eye on the future, and this attitude should be reflected in their approach towards communications. With student satisfaction ratings a crucial indicator of a university’s prestige, leaders should be looking to improve the student experience in any way they can.”
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