These days, when students and their parents check out prospective colleges, they're looking for a school that effectively utilizes the latest communications technology throughout its campus, not only because this enhances the learning experience, but also because immersion in such a digital connected environment is recognized as essential preparation for entry to corporate life after graduation. Your target applicant will be accessing a wide range of online resources to compare every aspect of your performance and assets with those of rival establishments. To position your school most competitively you'll need to leverage technology to enhance all facets of your offering.
Unified communications provides a powerful answer. This solution combines video, voice and text communication to enable new levels of collaboration and communication between your faculty, students and staff. It can start pre-admission – for example, with communications-enabled portals, a student filling an admissions application on your university website can use a click-to-call button to have the appropriate admissions staff contact them via telephone or chat. Communications solutions integrated with back office systems enable your student services staff to access information on all contacts with a prospective or existing student so that they can provide personalized, fast and informed responses on enrollment, registration, financial aid, or any other aspect of student life.
When you integrate unified communications applications with network systems, you gain closer faculty-student interactions, better interactivity throughout the curriculum, and far more extensive remote instruction capabilities, including conferencing functions that can range from simple text-based solutions to full video and multimedia depending on your requirements. Part-time and distance learners need to be able to customize their own education programs and access content-rich material over the Web whenever and however they choose. Adding voice capability to real-time web collaboration can put your students in direct touch with tutors online, enabling work to be reviewed and annotated, and resource pages to be recommended without either leaving their desk.
Unified communications transform the classroom experience too. With projectors, displays and computers seamlessly connected to campus networks, multimedia technologies add exciting new dimensions to learning, enhancing content retention through dynamic information display. It's a two-way process – students can collaborate on group creative projects, with everyone's work shared on a centrally connected display.
Wireless LAN and mobility solutions are also becoming increasingly essential, giving faculty instant access to needed information in the classroom, and allowing students to use their laptops and mobile phones for more effective study as well as easy exchange of information, ideas and data. It's no exaggeration to say that a cohesive campus community and the vibrant social life that students expect are largely dependent these days on the effectiveness of your WiFi network implementation.
Digital signage is another way to appeal to prospective students and improve the quality of campus life. Dynamic multimedia messaging keeps the student body informed about upcoming events, increasing ticket sales and promoting revenues through advertising for campus bookstores and food courts. This electronic aid is perfect for announcing important news and lecture information, and reminding students to register for classes. Touch-screen kiosks can provide interactive building maps and content, tailored to each department. And let's not forget the “unified” in unified communications – the enhanced notification capabilities available to you will now range from digital signage and wireless communications right down to SMS text messaging to student mobile phones.