VoIP Solutions have been enthusiastically embraced by individuals and businesses. For some, it is no other reason than the substantial cost savings in moving from the tolled PSTN network to toll-free internet connections. There are, of course, other benefits in improvements in operational processes and customer service levels.
One of the strategic moves forced on IT by the events of 2020 has been the move to remote working. Resources have been diverted from planned projects to emergency projects to enable the transition. VoIP Solutions have been a significant growth element, either as new implementations or developing an existing Unified Communications Strategy.
One question that is often asked, particularly in the education environment, is whether VoIP Solutions make a positive contribution. The answer is a resounding YES, and not just for Education. Any campus style, multi-building, or multi-site environment will benefit.
Looking specifically at Education, 2020 has seen a significant move to an e-learning environment. Initially, E-Learning has been delivered remotely using collaborative software tools. As staff and pupils have been able to return to campus, traditional methods have been revived, but in many cases with a distinct E-Learning flavor. This has, of necessity, meant change in the way in which learning is administered and delivered.
One thing that has emerged is the importance of stable and cost-effective communications as the bedrock for educational delivery. That is where VoIP Solutions can make a substantial contribution.
VoIP on Campus
As with any enterprise, Schools and Universities have a management component. They need HR, Finance, Procurement, and all the other essential business functions. They are then supplemented by education-specific features like curriculum and student management. Additional services like postgraduate support, residence management, and meal bookings complete the range of services.
VoIP can give benefits in all areas, and if the institution is multi-site, then VoIP improves inter-site communications and reduces overall business costs:
Education benefits from many VoIP functions:
The core business of an educational establishment is dependent on students. At the start of each academic year, there is a period of frantic activity as existing and new students are registered, assigned to courses. VoIP can provide benefits in several ways:
Incoming calls can be assigned to calling/hunting groups so that they can be dealt with promptly. Pickup also allows staff to take calls at unattended desks when the staff member is absent.
The familiar keypad and IVR systems can direct callers to the appropriate department or staff members rather than via a switchboard.
IVR can also deal with simple requests to send forms and brochures to an email address.
Mobile extensions. Most VoIP implementation support SIP technology. Allied to a smart device app, SIP can turn a smart device into a phone extension. If they are in the campus WiFi network range, a member of staff need never be uncontactable.
Sometimes, an event needs to be broadcast in more than one location. A typical example is a graduation ceremony in one building on one campus displayed on all campuses. This is becoming more important for graduations carried out remotely.
Campuses tend to be geographically quite large and sometimes quite widespread. Staff can spend a lot of time moving between campuses and campus buildings, which is not generally productive. If they use desktop video conferencing over the VoIP link, that can lessen the need to physically meet.
E-learning is becoming more-and-more integrated with Social Media. Students generally have a smart device and feel like their life is ended if they cannot access social media.
Lecturers are interacting with classes using WhatsApp and other communications platforms. Students are submitting assignments electronically and using social media to collaborate on tasks.
In many countries, there are Education networks linking schools, colleges, and Universities. Academic and non-academic staff can communicate easily with each other individually and in groups using VoIP and video-conferencing over that network
Students and student groups can also use it to communicate with their peers in other institutions.
Safety and Security
Safety and security is an increasing concern in many institutions. If SIP and VoIP are linked with a WiFi network, it allows students and staff to use an emergency number on their smart device. If they feel they need assistance, then this number is readily available to summon help.
To summarise, the use of VoIP Solutions in a multi-campus, especially educational environments, is a no-brainer. It brings many benefits in addition to the obvious ones of cost reduction. Internal and external communications are improved. It integrates the institution more deeply into the wider educational structures.
Many tertiary institutions have courses that require travel to a specialized campus to attend lectures. Using VoIP to broadcast the lecture material to the remote campus removs the need for students to travel