What Remote Learning for Higher Education and K-12 Looks Like in the Post-COVID World (And How to Improve It)
As we all know, life has changed dramatically following the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the US earlier this year. The economy took a hit, unemployment skyrocketed, and there was a mass exodus to working from home. While most companies and organizations have made a quick pivot to remote working, it hasn’t been so simple for our education system. Online classes of the past were used as a supplement to higher education, with K-12 never having experienced remote learning at all. However, in these first six or so months of 2020, there’s been a massive uptick in interest in tools to enable remote learning as colleges, universities and even grade schools are being forced to implement and roll out remote communications systems as quickly as possible. It’s not all bleak, though. Luckily the tools they need are readily available and come with professional teams that know exactly what is required to minimize disruption in the learning process.
It’s understandable that with the plethora of communications tools in the market today, consumers are drawn to “all-in-one” platforms. There would only have to be one implementation, it would provide all the communication capabilities that students, teachers, staff, and administrators would need to interact with each other, and it’s simply an easier approach to something that is so crucial for continuity of education. Because of the allure of the comprehensive platform, Cisco has shown to be one of the companies in strong demand. Between their networking solutions, software products, collaboration offerings, and cloud capabilities all built with security in mind, they have a robust collection of tools that allows higher education organizations and K-12 school systems to implement a secure, remote learning environment. Some examples of Cisco’s capabilities include the Webex Assistant (this voice-driven virtual assistant helps users record lessons and creates transcripts so the student can go back to find a particular area to focus on), Webex Teams (which not only allows one-on-one chat and group chats, but also allows assignment submissions via collaborative document sharing), and the enterprise content management (which allows multiple users to edit the same document simultaneously). Having video capabilities and integration with social media platforms also drastically changes how students can interact and communicate with each other. It allows them to communicate with a medium that they used in their daily lives, and anchors education in visual teaching. In addition to the expansiveness of Cisco’s platform, security also comes standard to all its tools, which is crucial when educational institutions consider the protection of their students’ personal and educational information.
Just like a school or university is more than its students and teachers, these tools aren’t just built exclusively for those groups either. Public safety officers, administration members, and enrollment teams are also reaping the benefits of these tools while working remotely. Public safety teams are now able to send out emergency notifications, either to devices on campus or out to the students, faculty, and parents with multiple avenues to do so – email, Webex Teams chats, SMS texts, and paging systems. Admissions teams have been showing strong interest in contact center capabilities. Questions about admissions, class enrollment, and tuition payments can all be handled via these call centers with increased flexibility of staff working from anywhere.
So how do you implement such platforms within the education system? The platform runs on a subscription basis with licenses for each of its users, no matter the size and scale. Cisco cloud collaboration can scale as small or as large as necessary – one school, a portion of a school, or an entire school system. For platforms like Cisco’s, school-wide implementation is the most common and entire systems are showing new interest since the pandemic. Frederick Community College just awarded Iron Bow a contract for implementation of UCM Cloud, Webex and professional services to overhaul their collaboration environment, with remote work capabilities natively built into the platform. Iron Bow’s solutions in partnership with Cisco offer turnkey options that can scale to tens or hundreds of thousands of users. Cisco partners with solution providers like Iron Bow because of their expertise in implementation of complex networking and collaboration architectures with managed service offerings built around these technologies. Iron Bow also offers consulting and advisement from certified experts for decision makers that are faced with determining which technology platform can enable their delivery of education in today’s rapidly changing environment.
The UCM Cloud solution is designed for flexible and secure cloud operations, which means Iron Bow’s experts can fix any issue from a distance. Having a collaboration-as-a-service option is not only more agile and efficient, it also ensures the safety of all involved since it allows virtual assistance in the days of COVID social distancing.
While the cost of such a robust, comprehensive platform might be worth every penny in order to ensure students receive the quality of education they’re used to, decision makers don’t have to break the bank in order to implement. Iron Bow offers services on a sliding scale based on an organization’s needs. Services could be as simple as hosting and basic support, or go all the way to a white glove full service model. With the significance and details that come with implementation in this post-COVID world, some organizations find that it is most cost effective to use companies like Iron Bow that are built on expertise, experience and have the resources necessary to get your communications system up and running in a timely and efficient manner, resulting in the fastest and most significant ROI.
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