UCaaS in EdTech: A Collaboration Report


June 6, 2023

As the EdTech sector continues to expand, with an expected CAGR of 13.6% from 2023 to 2030, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is ramping up alongside it. That’s no surprise considering cloud-based tech is also on the rise. UCaaS-wise, that means enterprise telephony, meetings (audio/video/web conferencing), unified messaging, instant messaging and presence (personal and team), mobility and communications-enabled business processes.

Those capabilities might seem better suited to a corporate setting, but the education sector has similar needs — chief among them making teaching and learning as efficient and effective as possible by improving access and communication. “With a well-thought-out approach, IT teams can avoid the same scenario they faced twenty years ago when institutions just shifted from one platform to another,” the author of this Educause Review article argues. “This is a rare opportunity to build a full-featured platform to serve educators and staff with a cloud-based ecosystem that reflects their current use cases and needs.”

He adds, “Just remember one important thing: Faculty and staff communication tools include more than just a plastic phone on a desk or mounted to a wall. There are now a range of technologies and devices that allow users to communicate across multiple mediums. By bringing all teams to the table and facilitating a dialogue that genuinely assesses future communication needs, IT teams can start building a true communications platform.”

“The best UCaaS solutions,” the article continues, “also allow for the creation of individualized learning programs allowing teaching staff to use app integrations for the creation of unique learning experiences.”

Especially in the wake of a global pandemic that necessitated widespread remote learning, UCaaS (and the tech pros who manage it) is increasingly the key to success. And while there certainly are challenges, as with any cloud-based model, the benefits are many as these and other case studies attest.

“An increasing number of [educational] institutions are taking full advantage of UCaaS tools and replacing their on-premises phone systems with cloud-based telephony to support remote learning and an increasingly mobile workforce,” Ed Tech magazine reported last fall. “Some schools have expanded flexible work arrangements and allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time.”

Summarizing insight from Denise Lund, IDC’s research vice president of worldwide telecom and unified communications, the story goes on to explain that “the cloud-based software fosters better communication and collaboration and improves worker productivity and student engagement, while enabling operational efficiencies and giving colleges the agility to respond to changing business demands.”

That goes for K-12 institutions as well. A recent study by the Center for Digital Education, with information and input from RingCentral, explores the ways in which UCaaS can enhance hybrid learning and teacher engagement as well as security and safety. “The world of K-12 education is only just starting to understand the potential of unified communications,” it concludes. “Today, school districts use this technology to make traditional instructional methods more effective. But before long, teachers, administrators, families and students will find that when a single platform merges messaging, videoconferencing and phone, they can use it to create entirely new modes of instruction they have not even begun to imagine.”

In addition to its functional benefits, properly implemented and administered UCaaS in education (perhaps in conjunction with CCaaS) can have a major financial upside by cutting down on a variety of costs associated with traditional communications systems — most of which are a confusing mish-mosh of different hardware and software. Those costs include but aren’t limited to data center maintenance, IT staffing, scaling expenses and software upgrade fees. (This is where educational institutions — and all UCaaS adopters — need to perform a cost-benefit analysis, ideally with the help of a MSP like Mindsight.)

“Part of staying afloat in an unpredictable environment is ensuring that the costs of supporting students and faculty don’t outweigh the money available to the institution,” UC Today writes. “Unified Communications solutions can help on this front too. Not only do these tools unify more of the bills an educational facility needs to manage on a monthly basis into one expense, but they can cut costs significantly as well.”

And because UCaaS systems operate on a service-as-needed basis, they “can also ensure educational institutions are only paying for the technology they need and nothing more. Each month, teams can adapt their technology ecosystem to suit their students and faculty without compromising on security or service.”

Sidebar: Best Practices for Implementing UCaaS in Education

  • Identify communication requirements, such as classroom collaboration or parent-teacher communication, so the UCaaS platform is optimized for your needs.
  • Shop around for UCaaS providers and pick one that best suits your institution based on things like features, scalability, reliability, security and cost.
  • Train staff and students so they can get the most out of their UCaaS experience.
  • Integrate your new UCaaS system with existing ones to streamline communication and data across all platforms.
  • Bolster security and enhance privacy by making sure the provider adheres to relevant security standards.
  • Monitor usage and performance to identify any issues and make improvements to the UCaaS platform. Regular feedback from staff and students is also valuable for constantly improving the user experience.
  • Evaluate frequently and adjust as necessary to make sure your UCaaS platform evolves with your institution.

About Mindsight

Mindsight is industry recognized for delivering secure IT solutions and thought leadership that address your infrastructure and communications needs. Our engineers are expert level only – and they’re known as the most respected and valued engineering team based in Chicago, serving emerging to enterprise organizations around the globe. That’s why clients trust Mindsight as an extension of their IT team.

Visit us at http://www.gomindsight.com.

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