Managing risks and costs while delivering improved quality experiences to internal users, ecosystem partners and customers is a challenge facing every organization no matter its size or scope. No other market feels the pressure to do more with less and find new ways to deliver services, than educational institutions.
Letting educators, administrators and students of all sized institutions access secure, high-performance communications and computing capabilities, while extending the ability to enhance collaboration and learning through online capabilities, has never been at a bigger premium.
Using technology to transform the quality of education is an enormous challenge but a huge opportunity. This is a vertical market where change has come slowly, but where the smart application of next generation tools and functions can have huge impacts.
For this reason, it seems appropriate to take a look at what one vendor, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) (ALU), is doing to help educators in these difficult economic times ensure all of their stakeholders are well-armed with what they need to succeed and well-served.
Education solutions, a three-pronged approach
Alcatel-Lucent likes to say it is changing the conversation in education. Its education solutions offer a broad portfolio of ways to enrich conferencing and collaboration, campus safety and security, mobility, data networking and to do so in an environmentally responsible manner. The goal as ALU sees it is to create “a dynamic new learning environment – connecting networks, people and knowledge to provide anytime, anywhere learning.”
The pillars on which ALU believes this new environment need to rest are:
- Collaborative & Mobile Campus – Dynamically blending voice, video and data service to provide learning without walls.
- Security & Convergence – Ensuring the security of your students and your network, while still enabling academic openness and exploration.
- Safe Campus Networks – Dramatically improving awareness, response coordination and campus notification.
Gracefully migrating to an all IP converged network is critical as it improves performance, the user experience, manageability and adaptability to future needs by making the network application fluent and user friendly. Making the network extensible, so there are no boundaries to accessing and using new services and enhancing communications between students, faculty and administrators, is also key.
The need for tight network security and enhanced campus safety, however, should not be overlooked.
Keeping data secure and only allowing those who have been granted access according to the enforcement of strict policies and rules as enforced by IT is a major concern for educational institutions. This is true not just for the protection of confidential personal information, but as a safeguard from hackers and malware disrupting all aspects of school operations, to ensure the integrity of intellectual property and prevent the downloading of unlawful materials. Doing so in a collegial atmosphere, where technology is not an obstacle to knowledge transfer and learning, is a delicate balancing act.
Alerting community members of safety concerns in a timely manner unfortunately has also become a priority which in an era where the average college student, for instance, has as many as six networking-capable devices and where contacting them in real-time based on their increased mobility can be difficult. It should also be noted here that a converged network, because of its ability to accommodate all types of devices, and act as an inexpensive transport for streamed and interactive video, is an ideal platform for increased security surveillance as well as for a host of environmentally responsible machine-to-machine (M2M) monitoring initiatives.
ALU has deployed its Connected Education Solutions over an application fluent network for Abilene Christian University. A short video explains the capabilities that university now enjoys while highlighting the benefits to the respective stakeholders.
Benefits of such deployments, according to ALU, have also included:
- Reduction of network response times saving 10 – 20% of class time
- The ability to future-proof the network to support changes without having to rip-and-replace major enhancements
- Lower cost of ownership through simplified architecture and acquisition and operational costs by as much as 40 percent
Online learning has become a foundational element of education at all levels be it in classroom settings or increasingly remotely. And increased collaboration and interaction with new applications and tools is literally transforming the way in which students are taught and educators constantly improve the quality of instruction. All of this is not only made possible by, but can be enhanced through, communications solutions that are optimized for the specific needs of the educational community. This is why Alcatel-Lucent is tailoring solutions for this market.
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. There is no higher calling then educating the next generation. The fact that there is an intense focus on how to use technology to improve the quality of education, including its accessibility in truly transformative rather than merely incremental ways, is worth more than a bit of attention.
Edited by Braden Becker