Education is constantly evolving to serve students better. In just the past decade, technology has dramatically transformed learning environments and given new freedoms to educators and students alike.
A pivotal device that is often overlooked is the phone. This standard piece of equipment plays a vital role in primary, secondary and post secondary institutions.
Can upgrading a legacy system have a considerable impact on the quality of education these institutions deliver? It definitely can! Administrators, educators and students can all benefit from this simple switch to a Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution.
1. Security & Privacy
Maintaining accurate and systemic records of attendance, grades, transcripts and medical information are important to any school. Ensuring that this information is kept to an extremely high standard of security is equally as crucial. However, unsecure analog and digital phone systems can put these records in jeopardy.
Personal information is unfortunately the most susceptible to breach. The older a phone system is, the more vulnerable it is. Attackers can steal voicemail recordings, confidential records, faxes and other valuable data. Once obtained, they can demand a ransom be paid in order for this data to be released. This is devastating for the individuals whose privacy has been contravened. It is also an ordeal for administrators. This incident can damage the reputation of all institutes from primary schools to notable colleges.
For Canadian organizations, the only way to drastically reduce the risk of a breach is to work with a VoIP provider that is Canadian-owned and Canadian-based. Providers that store 100% of their data exclusively within Canadian borders will continually certify that it is fully compliant with federal and provincial law.
2. Enhance Productivity & Efficiency
Piles of papers to grade, classes to plan and emails to answer. The to-do list for educators seems never-ending. A little boost in productivity could always come in hand. VoIP phone systems can enhance the efficiency of daily tasks so busy educators can check more off of that never-ending list.
Features like auto-attendants help to streamline calls by directly connecting people with the faculty they are attempting to reach. Exam stress can be quelled, emergency contact information can be updated and absences can be reported with ease. Educators can also access voice messages from anywhere, on any device. These messages can be transcribed to text so they are easy to receive.
Read through voicemails on your tablet as you board the train. Organize your responses more clearly as you sip a much-needed coffee. And finally, check off tasks faster so you have more time to prepare for the day ahead.
3. Mobile Communications
Educational institutes are busy buildings, and staff is constantly on the move – traveling between schools and head offices. Staff requires phone systems that keep them on task, organized and in-touch no matter where they are. This is where VoIP champions.
VoIP solutions can connect the phone systems of each location to provide teachers and department heads with extensions that can be accessed from any place. No matter the location, staff can receive quality call features. All that is needed is an internet connection.
4. Flexibility & Scalability
A unique challenge for school boards and post secondary institutions is the issue of scalability. Operations fluctuate throughout the school year, with a significant decrease in the summer months. Paying for a phone system that does not adapt to these substantial changes is basically like throwing money out the window.
VoIP solutions offer capable scalability and flexibility, making them an idyllic choice for educational institutions. A VoIP system can scale up or down as needed. This makes it effortless to condense capacity for the summer season. When school is back in session, simply scale up by calling or clicking. It only takes a few minutes!
5. Improve the Quality of Education
Communication is essential in education. Improved communication between teachers, students and parents helps to build valuable relationships and bolster academic success. When parents are able to easily connect with board personnel and educators, they are able to access more resources to help students. Strong communication provides a thriving learning environment.
VoIP can have a great impact on the quality of communication, thereby enhancing the quality of education. Clear audio quality leads to fewer errors and misheard messages. It eliminates the common message-taking practice of hand-writing a memo. It also improves response time. Call queue management and call routing quickly puts callers in touch with the right faculty. Custom messages deliver important information to callers so they understand key times, dates and deadlines. Resources such as mental health services, counseling, tutoring and other support services can be readily accessed with these features.
6. Better Control
Legacy phone systems have an adverse effect on efficiency. They are, by nature, problematic to manage. In an effort to avoid completing draining staff time, many institutions will outsource IT management to an additional team. This doesn’t help to curb costs or improve the performance of the system. Instead, it creates higher costs and more staff to oversee.
The best solution is to install a robust software-based phone system. VoIP systems make is simple for staff to make changes in call routing and call forwarding. They can proactively customize their own end points using a management console or online portal. There is no need for an IT department to assist. This allows staff to instantly adjust their settings so they can get back to tasks that are truly important.
7. Analytics & Reporting
Data has the potential to reshape education. Using big data is a failsafe way to form new tactics and new technologies to improve the lives of students. We have the intelligence tools to collect important data – and one major device is the phone.
VoIP phone systems have the capability to provide in-depth analytics that can be used by educational organizations. Seeing who is calling and why they are calling are metrics to determine many crucial outcomes. Key decision-makers can evaluate the need for more staff or more resources. They can see where students or parents may be confused or in need of clarification. Laying out these facts can provide a clear picture of what exactly is going on so a strategy can be developed to mend it.
8. Video / Audio Conferencing
Video and audio conferencing has opened many doors for educators in recent years. Suddenly, this technology is making it possible for a higher standard of interactive learning.
Video and audio conferencing is built-in to modern VoIP solutions and requires no extra software or hardware. It allows for faculty to consult from anywhere with the added advantage of face-to-face communication. Interactive parent-teacher meetings and video-based teacher training sessions are further possibilities for this incredible medium.
All of these features drastically reduce travel costs without impeding learning outcomes. In fact, they can increase the rate in which students and teachers collaborate and learn.
9. Redundancy & Failover
Having the internet or phone network go down can put educators in a precarious situation. Consistent communication is vital in case of emergencies. So what happens when a phone system runs on the internet?
Good VoIP providers understand the importance of building strong redundancy directly into their systems. They apply this to the SIP Trunking, the PBX and so on. That way, if one element fails, the system is designed with several alternatives to remain connected.
Whether the Internet is backed up by cellular connections, or a backup analog or POTS line is integrated, there is always a component working to keep everything running smoothly.
A key recommendation for all organizations is to look closely at the Service Level Agreement held with a current or potential provider. This document outlines every detail regarding service and should be reviewed to ensure that standards are being upheld.
10. Cost Savings
In the field of education, one of the main concerns is how to maintain a high quality scholastic environment when yearly budgets are limited. This puts significant strain on administrators who need to find ways to heighten efficiency in order to save money.
A straightforward solution for cost-savings is the VoIP phone. Unlike legacy systems, installation is fast. VoIP can leverage your existing infrastructure, which makes for an easy setup. It won’t hinder daily productivity. Many updates can be made remotely which reduces the need for inconvenient and costly technician visits. Switching to a VoIP system means that more time, effort and resources go where they are needed most – to the students.
Technology is helping bring the world to young learners. It is revolutionizing modern education and bringing about a future that holds more intellectual fearlessness, more enriched curricula and more confident students. This future can be achieved with many facets of technology – including the understated, yet powerful VoIP phone.