The integration of Web technology and collaboration solutions into higher education has become a popular trend within the University community. With the evolution of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consistent development of mobile technology, video collaboration, too, has become highly mobile. No longer does it require highly equipped teleconferencing suites with banks of equipment. Thanks to the advent of mobile technology, learners and instructors can videoconference with the click of a button on their smartphones, tablets, laptops or other mobile devices, no matter the location. This sharing and exchange of information is particularly beneficial in a higher education setting. With audio, video and web collaboration solutions, interruptions in class schedules for unforeseen circumstances such as weather or emergency school closings are a thing of the past.
§ Real-Time vs. Pre-recorded video options-With real-time (synchronous) and pre-recorded (asynchronous) options, administrators and educators have the tools they need to effectively collaborate within the community in the method of their choosing that they deem best for a particular student group. For example, pre-recorded messages may work best for a group of students who learn better in a self-paced educational setting.
§ Customized collaboration options- Many solutions offer features which have the ability to facilitate an experience just like being in a “real” classroom. An example is white-board collaboration, where the meeting facilitator can draw or write on the white board during presentation. Another beneficial feature of collaboration solutions is the ability to upload files for download. With this feature, faculty members have a place to house important class documents, and students can in turn access and save files they need without the need for the facilitator to print them, resulting in a decrease in printing and supply costs for the University.
§ Cloud Service utilization- Perhaps the most widely used example of cloud services is the provision of e-mail. Additionally, many colleges and universities also use tools such as YouTube and wikis to circulate information. Blogs may be used for remote communication within private groups such as a research team. Both stationary and mobile devices come in a variety of platform flavors, yet users of all types are able to meet in virtual video space. Regardless of the method, each of these tools facilitates collaboration and can enhance the learning environment and student experience.
§ Security- With file sharing comes obvious security concerns and questions, as data security can be compromised in the case where one or more universities may share a data center, or contract for services through a commercial provider. And while collaboration solution applications may not come without a level of risk, these concerns are easily addressed. Your individual situation will determine your methods of protection and whether you yield the greatest value in securing the devices where data is housed, or securing the data itself. Additionally, many solutions are equipped with the latest in security, from requiring unique PIN ID codes for meeting participants, to protecting the information shared within a meeting so it is only seen by those invited attendees. This reduces the need for external security applications at an additional cost to the University.
The benefits of collaboration within higher education extend to those within the higher education community as well as the information and communications technology (ICT) community. Many opportunities lie ahead for more extensive collaboration approaches. The collaboration opportunity for the two affords an invaluable exchange of knowledge and experience which can, in turn, be used to create additional infrastructures. Download the document to see how NEC’s Collaboration solutions are changing the way information is being exchanged while improving teamwork and reducing cost.