Benefits of VoIP for Education Sector
Online learning has been around for quite some time. But the last two years saw all education institutions – be it schools, colleges, or universities – shift to virtual learning methods. Getting up every day to log in to an online class has not been an easy transition for students and teachers alike, but they pulled it through well. The Covid-19 pandemic introduced us to many facets of life as the ‘new normal’ which was unthinkable just two years ago.
Still, we shouldn’t assume e-learning to be an effect of the pandemic, as the word “e-learning” was coined way back in 1998. Fascinating, right! Of course, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online education, but schools, colleges, and other educational institutions had little choice with the entire world going into lockdown almost overnight.
The transition from offline to online learning happened in quick time because of VoIP phone systems. The many benefits that a VoIP cloud phone system offers make the transition to remote learning seamless for schools. The VoIP features offered vary from one VoIP provider to the other, with cloud-based service providers adding greater convenience and advanced features. The benefits that VoIP technology brings to the table in both online and offline delivery modes run into a long list.
In this blog, we decode how VoIP adds power to online education, list the benefits that internet telephony has brought to the education sector, and highlight the must-have features that educational institutions should look for when getting a VoIP service subscription. So, hop on!
Benefits of VoIP in the ‘Education Sector’
#1. Save on travel
VoIP enables people to interact with each other based in distant locations while sitting at their desk at school or home cutting down significantly on travel. Parents can attend many school meetings from their workplaces or homes. School officials can get a lot more done as they no more need to drive to school to attend every meeting in person.
VoIP systems are compatible with most of the devices enabling participants to dial into a conference call using smartphones, computers, tablets, or other devices. This gives participants the flexibility to access the class and stay connected any time and from anywhere. Teachers can connect with parents as and when needed, or in instances where there is an important issue with a child’s progress, etc.
#3. Enhanced School Staff Productivity
Text-based communication (Emails, instant messaging) and at times phone calls may lead to misunderstandings due to the lack of face-to-face communication. Features such as video conferencing enable participants to interact face to face, communicate better, and help make decisions and plan the next steps. This is particularly useful in activity-based classes and for administrative staff.
#4. Improved Communications
Video conferencing allow attendees to see one another’s facial expressions, helps both sides connect more freely to understand and explain a subject in detail. School officials are able to conduct meetings in real-time. Everyone from students to teachers and other staff feels connected to the institution.
#5. Engagement and Interaction
Tools such as interactive virtual whiteboards, file sharing, etc. make the classroom more than just a boring lecture. It encourages students to interact, open applications to create presentations, exchange notes making the experience engaging and interactive.
#6. Low Communication Costs
VoIP phone systems do not require elaborate hardware, wiring, and labor installation costs unlike traditional systems saving schools hefty investment on such infrastructure. It also helps schools save on recurring monthly costs such as maintenance, hefty telephone bills, etc. One internet plan and it takes care of all your communication costs. These cost and performance factors make VoIP a better investment.
#7. Unified Communication system
VoIP keeps your staff, teachers, and students connected on a network of integrated online communications channels and on a device of their choice. It comes equipped with a range of security, tracking, and management features. These features make VoIP a better choice than a traditional phone system.
#8. No call remains unanswered
Smart features like automatic call routing saves long hold times and connects callers directly to the right extension number (school nurses, teachers, supervisors, administrators, and principal). This way employees focus on resolving the issues rather than spending time trying to connect them to the right department or address problems outside their area of knowledge.
#9. Faster Call Response
VoIP systems enable you to activate features like the “call-back option”. Callers can select this option instead of waiting for long hold periods in busy hours or long waiting times. The system can also auto-identify priority callers and directly route them to the assigned contact person.
#10. Resource Optimization through analytics
The system can track data and generate reports on metrics such as busy call time, lean time, average hold times, query resolution time, types of queries, resolution percentage, caller satisfaction percentage which can help identify areas of efficiency and inefficiency. This can help plan for training, and better utilization of resources.
#11. Easy to integrate and compatible with existing systems
Most modern VoIP systems can seamlessly be integrated with other tools and software that you may already be using.
#12. No onsite system maintenance hassle
The telecommunication system is hosted by a VoIP service provider, which means all of the equipment needed for a school’s communications system to operate is not on campus and managed remotely by your VoIP service provider.
Must have VoIP Features for the Education industry
#1. Video Conferencing
Even in an online class, it is important for teachers and students to interact with each other. This is why video conferencing is a must-have feature as it enables teachers, students, parents, administrators, etc., to meet in a virtual setting from different locations, but still have the feeling of being in the same room. The video conferencing happens through digital ISDN and IP transmission systems, which easily transfer the data created from cameras and mics during the call. VoIP systems provide high-quality images and audio and require much less hardware and installation expense compared to their predecessors. Modern state-of-the-art telephony systems ensure more life-like experiences in seminars and presentations.
Desktop Video Conferencing is a user-friendly and affordable option. All a user needs to do is launch the system by simply downloading and installing an app. The app enables anyone to host video conferences from their desktop at school or home. Users need a basic infrastructure (webcam, microphone, loudspeakers) which is in-built in most modern-day computers and a stable internet connection. The app can also be downloaded on a mobile device enabling the user to make and receive calls from their mobile devices.
#2. Digital Whiteboards
Digital whiteboards can be understood as a replacement for the traditional blackboards in the class, but are loaded with advanced features to make learning interactive and engaging. These technologically advanced digital whiteboards interact with computer software programs, digital documents, and photo files, through touch technology. The touchpad can be connected to a computer, and the computer can connect to a projector. The class instructor can copy and move to the next slide, write on it like on a traditional blackboard/whiteboard, alter information on the board, and do a lot more.
As these whiteboards support a variety of applications designed for use on a computer both teachers and students can use the whiteboard to search the internet, enable students to make impactful presentations, and a lot more. An entire image can be darkened to highlight only a specific area on the whiteboard using the spotlight feature. Digital whiteboards are an effective tool for students and teachers alike in both online and offline classroom settings.
#3. Call Routing
Schools, colleges are always buzzing with activity. There is never a dull moment. However, this means receiving umpteen calls on any given day. Smart call routing features are thus a non-negotiable for a VoIP system for any educational institute. A few features which really help are:
#4. Extension Menu feature
Efficient routing cuts down excessive hold times and ensures callers are not directed to the wrong departments or individuals.
The auto-attendant connects callers directly to faculty members or other administrative school employees or principal’s voice mailboxes. In some cases, there is pre-recorded information that is played for some generic questions such as vacation schedules, exam schedules, admission information, etc. or I the issue is not resolved the auto-attendant takes a request for arranging a callback
#6. Call Queue and Call Forward
Call Queue makes sure callers remain on the line while the concerned staff is attending to another caller, instead of having them leave a message or call later. Call Forwarding enables admin employees to direct callers to another number, in case the concerned person is not available in the office.
#7. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
ACD is an advanced system that does not use linear-based routing, but instead distributes calls either evenly across the phone lines or routes to the most qualified available agent. Modern ACD’s identify a caller’s location, time of day, the language the caller is speaking, and the nature of the issue the caller wants to discuss. It then does a conditional/skill-based routing where calls are routed based on date, time, caller’s needs, circumstances in the facility, or other routing conditions. The system directs the call to an individual with the skills that are most appropriate to help the caller. Overflow Queues can help route calls to employees who are not normally taking these calls during heavy calling periods or low staffing periods. Messages in the group mailbox can be checked by any member of the group to ensure all messages are responded to in a timely manner.
#8. Conference Bridging
Conventional phone systems allow a limited number of participants in a conference call. The Conference Bridge feature in VoIP enables large groups of people to participate in a phone call accommodating hundreds of participants on a single call, the same time. A conference bridge eliminates long-distance travel and financial constraints. Look for a VoIP provider who can implement this feature, you will need a dedicated phone line and the proper audio equipment. Participants can connect by dialing into the conference bridge, using a phone number and PIN provided.
The benefits just don’t end here. Conference bridging supports multiple conference rooms and multiple call participants in each room. You can select the number of conference rooms and participants based on the model, hardware, and licensing terms you choose. This means running multiple classes simultaneously, a necessity for any educational institute. Advanced features enable participants to see who has joined the conference. Call moderators can mute or unmute participants, restrict the entry of participants after a certain time, record calls, grant permission to attendees to present, record calls, and a lot more.
#9. Voicemail to e-mail
Some jobs like admin, sales representatives, senior faculties, visiting faculties need to travel extensively, be off-site at district meetings or at school-related events away from campus frequently. To make sure these people are always connected one needs a phone system that enables the user to have any important message automatically routed to their mobile phone or any other device they prefer. Voicemail-to-Email technology enables a user to check messages and capture important calls without the need to step out of an important conference or meeting to attend a call. These sophisticated transcription systems combine the high speed of machine transcribing with human transcriptionists who can decipher technical terms, accents, work through background noise, capture numbers correctly, identify proper nouns, and distinguish other nuances. A voicemail-to-email feature gives parents and teachers an assurance that they have not missed out on any important piece of information. This is one feature that is a must-have for educational institutes
A VoIP system simplifies the day-to-day interaction between school administrators, faculty members, other school staff, parents, students, various school services providers, and many stakeholders in the larger community. Seamless communication is the foundation for the smooth and successful functioning of an educational institution and VoIP can help.