According to the 2020 U.S. Census, approximately 73 million people attend some variation of school, from nursery school to college. From matriculation to graduation, each student is on a journey largely enabled by communications.
Academia’s decision-makers — particularly the IT teams — ensure communications technologies are current, reliable, and effective. Many schools have realized the benefits of cloud based unified communications (UC), which integrates several communication and collaboration tools on a single cloud hosted platform. This solution — known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS) — continues to attract educational institutions due to its flexibility, functionality, scalability, continuity, and frugality.
UCaaS for K–12: A Focus on Safety
In addition to continuity and collaboration, UCaaS also offers a solution for safety concerns. Families expect their children to be safe from a variety of events — whether it’s a natural disaster or an intruder — and schools should be prepared to respond to emergencies at any time. Central to this effort is an efficient UC strategy that keeps all parties informed and updated.
Natural disasters. In 2021, the United States experienced 20 weather/climate events with over a billion dollars in damages. Flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires continue to threaten various parts of the country. Natural disasters arise quickly, and schools must be prepared to act. While having an emergency response plan is important, the channels used to execute that plan are just as important.
When disaster strikes, the last thing any administrator wants to worry about is communicating with stakeholders. Here are a few ways a UCaaS system can help:
- Business continuity. Cloud based communications don’t rely on on-site systems or devices — they work anytime, anywhere, from any internet-enabled device, providing continuing service during and after a disaster.
- Multiple channels. UC provides multiple channels — voice, text, video, etc. — to communicate internally with staff and externally with parents and emergency responders.
- Mass notifications. During a crisis, schools can send bulk notifications to staff and parents, providing status updates or instructions such as when to pick up their children. Integrated texting solutions like Bubble from Broadvoice enable you to leverage your UC solution to broadcast messages to connected mobile devices.
Intruder alerts. Unwanted visitors not only interrupt the school but also can pose a serious — and possibly fatal — threat. Whether someone is lurking near the playground, following behind students to gain entrance into the school, or breaking and entering, school staff must be able to respond and communicate instantly and with ease. Here are a few ways UCaaS can help you manage these types of situations:
- Simplicity. You must act quickly in an emergency, and having an easy-to-use system is essential. A UCaaS solution like Broadvoice b-hive allows your staff to coordinate with click-to-call, text, chat, video, etc., all on one platform.
- Reachability. Having one number allows you to find and direct staff quickly.
- 911. With a cloud based PBX, you can leverage Enhanced 911 (E911) standards by automating location detection on devices, ensuring responders are able to reach the correct location.
UCaaS for Higher Education: A Focus on Recruiting and Retention
According to the Hechinger Report, the total number of students in higher education has declined 13 percent over the last decade. It’s estimated that by the mid-2020s we will see another 15 percent drop in prospective college students who graduate from high school. Why is this? A recent Gallup poll shows that approximately half of Americans don’t feel college is necessary. With the prospect segment shrinking, communications efforts must be targeted and efficient.
Unified communications enable higher education institutions to reach prospective students around the world with personalized communications on their preferred platforms, allowing students to feel engaged with the institution and potentially sway their decision to attend.
A UCaaS system like Broadvoice b-hive has features that can help educational institutions retain and recruit students:
- Advanced call routing helps students reach the right department (such as admissions or financial aid)
- Instant video conferencing and screen sharing with in-language support, if needed
- Mass communications in the students’ preferred language via their preferred channel with Bubble by Broadvoice
- Staff can text students using their business number to answer follow-up questions or provide additional information
Graduate to UCaaS for Student Communications
From orientation to graduation, educational institutions and students benefit from UCaaS technology. Easy-to-use UCaaS systems help faculty and administrators collaborate and facilitate a range of events, from emergency response to recruiting and retention. For students and their families, a feature-rich solution like Broadvoice b-hive ensures they reach the right person on the right channel for more effective interactions.
Contact us to learn how to improve communications throughout the student lifecycle with the Broadvoice b-hive all-in-one communications platform.