Schools turn to unified communications to save costs, boost productivity

Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.
Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.

More K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are turning to unified communications as a way to streamline campus communication and save much-needed money in unpredictable economic times, a new survey suggests.

Unified communications is the convergence of enterprise voice, video, and data services with software applications designed to achieve greater collaboration among individuals or groups and improve business processes. Component technologies include video, audio, and web conferencing; unified messaging; and more.

The benefits that education technology stakeholders see in implementing unified communications are the same that executives in the government and business sectors see, according to the second annual Unified Communications Tracking Poll from CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), which provides products and services to education and other sectors.…Read More

Can the iPhone save higher education?

What happens when you give about 2,000 college students and their teachers Apple iPhones and iPod Touches and tell them “Go mobile, go digital?” No one knows. But that’s what Abilene Christian University is trying to find out with its Mobile Learning project, Network World reports. What ACU is trying to explore isn’t whether the iPhone itself will transform teaching and learning, but whether always-on, always connected, personal digital devices and social networks can. Higher-education computing programs now often mandate or provide wireless laptops, but many of these are ad-hoc efforts, with more or less no funding. By contrast, when ACU first gave 650 entering freshmen in 2008 a choice of iPhone or iPod Touch, it was already putting in place a funded program to equip and encourage faculty to begin exploiting the handsets in the classroom, and a framework to evaluate the results. The goal, in effect, was eventually to turn the entire campus into a laboratory for mobile learning research, experimentation, and analysis. “Based on the feedback we’re getting, we’re convinced it’s working,” says CTO Kevin Roberts…

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Librarians to colleges: Keep on streaming videos for courses

The Library Copyright Alliance has published a legal analysis of the use of streaming video in higher education, NewTeeVee reports, and the bottom line could be good news for colleges: Instructors are allowed to use streaming videos as part of their courses without obtaining special licenses to do so. The alliance, which counts the American Library Association and the Association of College & Research Libraries as its members, implores educators to “know and exercise their rights” to online video use. This position likely won’t go over well with publishers of educational videos, which have been stepping up their efforts to get universities to obtain special streaming licenses if they want to include videos on course web sites. The Association for Information and Media Equipment (AIME) threatened UCLA with a copyright lawsuit over its video streaming late last year, and the school responded by shutting down its online video platform. AIME has been arguing that displaying a movie on a web site isn’t the same thing as showing it in a classroom, even if there are access controls for the online video in place. But the Library Copyright Alliance believes there is no need to pay for these licenses in many occasions, as amendments to copyright law that include distance education also cover the display of films through class web sites…

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Report details coming trends in campus technology

Typing on a laptop could be outdated in four or five years, according to ed-tech projections.
Typing on a laptop could be outdated in four or five years, according to ed-tech projections.

Open scholarly content will become more commonplace in higher education in the next year as online universities and textbook companies organize and harness the internet’s mass of educational material, according to a report that predicts campus technology advances within the next five years.

The 2010 Horizon Report, released this week by education technology advocacy group EDUCAUSE and the New Media Consortium, describes technological changes that will have the greatest impact on college students and faculty.

The seventh annual report’s short-term prediction focuses on open content—a trend buoyed by MIT’s Open Courseware Initiative and the Open Knowledge Foundation, among others.…Read More