Temperatures are beginning to creep higher, and the green grass is poking its way up through the soil. For students everywhere, the light at the end of the tunnel known as summer vacation is coming into view.
Although students typically look forward to no homework, sleeping until noon, and hanging out day and night with friends, educational institutions from elementary schools to major universities use the break to evaluate the prior school year and work to make improvements for the next one. As schools look for ways to create a better learning environment this summer, they should consider dumping inefficient legacy technology in favor of unified communications solutions.
Comprehensive unified communications solutions offer a wide array of features that open all kinds of new possibilities in the classroom. Here are some of the most useful features that schools and districts can leverage after they make the switch:
In the business community, videoconferencing is often used to hold important “face to face” meetings with people in several locations. Similarly, teachers can use videoconferencing to arrange conversations about culture and history between their students and young people in other countries. The technology also allows students to take virtual field trips to museums and historic landmarks thousands of miles away.
Unifying multiple locations
Most districts are made up of separate elementary, middle and high schools at different locations. Using traditional telephony, making calls between schools can be expensive and complicated. For instance, if a parent calls the middle school for information about a student in high school, transferring that call may require several complicated steps using legacy communications infrastructure. Best-in-class unified communications solutions, however, provide a suite of features that includes:
- The ability to answer any incoming call from any office
- No-cost interoffice calling
- Shared phone lines across several locations
- Unified dialing across all locations
- Ring groups and call queues that operate across locations
- Simple multi-location call transfers
Disaster preparedness and emergency notification
Because of the massive impact of some recent storms, schools districts are increasingly emphasizing disaster preparedness. Cloud-based unified communications are maintained by the vendor in a secure, off-site location, making them far less susceptible to weather issues or other emergencies. By leveraging cloud technology that guarantees 99.999 percent uptime, schools remain reachable to parents during an emergency, and administrators are able to reach out to parents as well for cancellation or early dismissal notifications.
On top of the features and functionality unified communications offer, schools can also cut costs by ripping and replacing their wire-based legacy systems. Scalable solutions are flexible, meaning districts pay by the seat and can make adjustments based on changes—like an influx of new students in a given year—quickly and easily. Top-shelf providers also offer low long-distance rates, minimal upfront costs and free interoffice calls.
Even better, Star2Star is E-Rate eligible, making it easier and more affordable for schools to make the switch.
So as students begin to dream of summer camp and entire days lounging at the beach, schools should consider how unified communications can make life easier for administrators, teachers, students, and parents alike.