This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
The higher education sector is continually evolving, with trends emerging from political, economic and social influences. Colleges and universities can now begin building upon the success of migrating to IP technology by adding services and infrastructure that will enable them to better respond now and in the future.
The traditional landscape of higher education is changing. Current college-age students are the most tech-savvy of our time, and they expect colleges and universities to accommodate their technological expectations. What’s more, the federal government is currently undergoing an initiative to increase the number of college graduates by 2020. Institutions of higher learning will soon see a rapid increase of non-traditional students who will need more convenient ways to further their education. With budgetary stresses over the past year leaving many colleges and universities financially weaker, colleges and universities will need cost-effective ways to address changes within the campus environment and population.
Over the past decade, colleges and universities have made significant investments in IP voice networks. Many universities, however, have only scratched the surface of their migration.
Recognizing that campus networks often grow in segments over time rather than as a whole all at once, colleges and universities can leverage existing infrastructure to respond to current challenges. By taking the next step, colleges and universities can add new services to support new programs and do more with less.
An integrated solution model allows colleges and universities to improve services to all aspects of the campus environment. It facilitates innovative teaching methodologies, online education, independent study, workforce development and non-credit course offerings. This helps make programs more accessible, which improves student retention and increases graduation rates. It also enables collaboration, allowing colleges and universities to partner with other schools and organizations in different times zones and countries. This expands research opportunities and creates new opportunities for other institutional-advancement projects.
From an operational perspective, an integrated solution model provides more shared information, which can help colleges and universities drive new sources of revenue, manage costs and improve ROI. Colleges can track and manage the entire student lifecycle on one platform, collecting data from the recruitment and admissions process all the way to graduation and alumni development. Data center optimization improves efficiency, reduces power and cooling costs and supports green initiatives. E911 solutions now provide efficient information in an IP environment and include digital signage, emergency notification, emergency conferencing, emergency recording and contact centers. This allows campuses to support planning and response for critical situations.
Current trends within higher education will create permanent change. Institutions of higher learning can leverage the agility and adaptability of their existing IP networks to respond. By expanding the network for more robust offerings, colleges and universities can make every aspect of the campus environment more effective and efficient.
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Edited by Jaclyn Allard