So-called digital natives are transforming society as they infuse technology into every aspect of life, from commerce to social relationships. But nowhere is their impact greater than in higher education, where they account for 100 percent of the student body — as well as a growing percentage of faculty and administrative staff. 

Colleges and universities are responding to this digital transformation in many ways. Some are adopting online learning. Some are investing in wireless infrastructure to support more extensive use of mobile devices. Some are rolling out their own mobile apps.

Many, though, are still overlooking a powerful and cost-effective tool that can significantly enhance student life and institutional performance: Cisco WebEx.

Why WebEx? 

WebEx is well suited for the campus environment. It works seamlessly across mobile platforms (which obviously is important for a highly transient bring-your-own-device user base), it’s easy to use, and its licensing structure gives schools the flexibility to align their costs with their needs.

More important, WebEx provides the core digital collaboration capabilities that schools require. WebEx sessions can include audio, video, screen sharing, document sharing and whiteboarding, so professors, teaching assistants and students can use WebEx for live classes, class archiving and playback, group study sessions and one-on-one conferences. WebEx can also facilitate faculty meetings, student recruiting, the resolution of financial aid issues and many other types of communication.

Of course, people can use any app they want for communication and collaboration. But there are many advantages to promoting a single platform across an institution. For one thing, standardization on WebEx eliminates the time-wasting technical fussing that so often occurs when people have to figure out which tool to use for any given session. For another, standardization makes life easier for older faculty and staff, as these “digital immigrants” have to master only one application.

Taking Friction Out of the Student Experience

There’s a bigger-picture reason why schools may want to consider using WebEx to promote multimedia collaboration on an institutionwide scale. Institutional decision-makers often think about tools like WebEx in terms of specific use cases, such as online learning. But when collaboration becomes easier and more pervasive across an institution, students benefit in unexpected ways.

Student athletes, for example, can overcome conflicts of time and place that force them to make difficult choices between their studies and their teams. Parents, students and administrative staff can solve problems in real time, instead of playing phone tag for days or weeks. A “frictionless” student experience can thus positively impact everything from a school’s sports programs to its cash flow, as well as the learning process itself.

Technology stakeholders at colleges, universities or K–12 school systems should take a look at what WebEx can do for their institution and their students. It may be time to start really promoting digital collaboration, instead of just supporting it.

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