The technology is ready. But is the education sector reaping the benefits?
Education Technology – Headache or Harmony
Technology in schools, colleges and universities have not always worked well for teachers (or students for that matter). At times, the use of digital devices has caused more headache than harmony. Clusters of new technology systems have failed to move the needle on supporting modes of teaching, instead adding to teachers’ workloads.
The recent release of the Department for Education’s new EdTech Strategy is a major step towards helping the sector take full advantage of technology. The goal is to bring about increased efficiencies, engage students and support outcomes. Let’s look closer at the EdTech Strategy’s viewpoint.
Can we Collaborate?
The EdTech Strategy also recommends that all education providers actively consider moving to a cloud-based approach for their IT system. Cloud-based technology can facilitate independence and enable access to shared spaces for collaborative activity. It can also offer integrated learning across contexts and geographies, from school to home – seamlessly.
When embracing the potential of cloud technology, schools, colleges and universities can share resources and collaborate in better, more modern ways. And what’s more, cloud-based systems are usually more secure, cheaper to run and let staff and students work in more flexible ways. So where should you start?
UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS, BUZZWORD OR REAL BENEFIT?
Unified Communications (UC) is essentially a single -platform cloud-based solution. It’s a family of technologies that not only provides education with modern, new features to communicate through, it also joins up across multiple devices and media types. More than just ripping out old landlines and updating them with kits with more features, unified communications means all types of communications can be brought together – from PC, telephone, web and mobile. So, whether you or your students want to use channels such as messaging to video conferencing, instant messaging, email or SMS, any channel you want to use are all in the palm of your hands. The choice is yours.
Why communication is key
The EdTech Strategy highlights the huge impact that technology can have in opening up channels of communication, making learning and engagement accessible in ways that weren’t possible before.
It’s also important to acknowledge the fact that a large percentage of students are Millennials – a generation where digital tools are part of their everyday lives. Digital technology that all channels are absolutely vital to their educational needs and expectations too. Not only this, Millennials area generation that enjoy working in teams and collaborating, preferring open and frequent communication with each other and their teachers. They feel most comfortable using a variety of communication channels and are used to being able to communicate through any channel they choose, at any time, and whenever they need to. Technology that enables fluid communicative interactions – from the classroom to the seminar room – will serve to create positive working relationships throughout all levels of the academic settings.
It’s important for each educational setting to re-evaluate how it reaches students in simple ways, both inside and outside the learning space.
Choosing UC for choice
Unified Communications isn’t a one-size-fits-all, and each component should be adopted because it meets the needs of the people who’ll be using it.
If you haven’t researched how UC technology can support you, here are 4 steps to get you started.
STEP 1: EVALUATE
One of the most important steps for each academic setting is to evaluate the roles and day-to-day processes of teachers and students. This evaluation will determine the type of communication technology platform will suit you the most.
STEP 2: MEETING ALL THE NEEDS
You’ll want technology that helps you to communicate in the ways that will meet the unique needs of everyone in your setting, a tool that offers choice. Choose from features such as instant messaging, call control or conferencing. And choice is critical because, although a large majority of students are Millennials, many teachers are not, and their preferences are just as important. So, in education, it’s key that everyone is catered for.
STEP 3: UNDERSTAND THE ARCHITECTURE
One major decision is whether you deploy mobile unified communication technology and applications on-premise or in the cloud. Now there are many reasons why the cloud should be a part of your mobile UC strategy, from the lower cost of deployment to the variety of features available in a cloud-based application – either way make sure you do your research.
STEP 4: KEEP COMMUNICATING
Sounds obvious right? But it’s so important to keep assessing the use of the unified technology you choose for staff and students. Is it meeting all needs? Are day-to-day processes becoming easier? Is it supporting mobility and flexible working? Are you becoming more productive? Regular evaluation will help you make the most of UC, in ways that will best serve your every user.
It’s true, the UK’s education sector is brimming with innovation and cutting-edge developments in EdTech – so why not contact us to find out more about how unified communications technology can drive your unique educational setting forward.
For further details on how your educational centre can benefit from Unified Communications, contact us on 0800 316 7566.
For more information about this or any of our news items please call us on 0800 316 7566.