06-Oct-2020

Digital transformation enables university campuses to create a smart, safe, secure and successful community for students and faculty.

Today’s higher education campuses are often the size of a town, or in some cases, even a small city. However, the advantage that these educational communities have is that they are often rich in technology infrastructure — infrastructure that can be leveraged to address digital transformation trends and ensure student success.

Student success can be measured in a number of ways. For example, a student may be struggling academically or exhibiting behaviors (such as skipping lectures) that could sabotage their success. Having technology in place to easily and proactively reach out to students to provide mentorship, tutoring, and access to mental health professionals can be beneficial to both the students and the school.

For many universities digital transformation will be required to create a smart campus with all the latest services, applications and tools to attract and retain students. Universities will need to leverage all existing digital resources and reinvent themselves to deliver communications and collaboration to create the smart, safe campuses students expect.

Digital transformation creates a smart community

IT is the foundation for any digital transformation. That said, the IT infrastructure must be agile enough to support rapid change and application adoption as well as analytics to support student success.

A service oriented network infrastructure at the heart of it all can enable swift adoption of new services, and secure onboarding for users and devices. Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) network architecture with User Network Profiles (UNP) can make services available quickly by leveraging the same security mechanisms used to grant access to students, faculty, and staff. With SPB, the network traffic always benefits from the lowest latency and highest performance.

Wi-Fi is a life line for students. And, how good, or how bad it is, can be an important factor when students are figuring out where they want to spend the next four or more years of their lives. An Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise controller-less architecture ensures that the Wi-Fi infrastructure delivers high performance as each access point (AP) is connected directly to the LAN infrastructure and doesn’t need to be tunneled to a controller bottleneck. As well, an ALE network management system can store and share network analytics from both the Ethernet and Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide data about student behavior and academic success.

Smart collaboration and communications

Applying to university can be a challenging process even under the best of conditions. The vast number of forms, deadlines, and fees make it is easy to get lost in the details and either miss critical deadlines or just abandon the process altogether due to confusion.

An Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow™ enabled admissions web site lets students chat with a bot to get assistance on FAQ type questions. If the topic is more complex, Rainbow can escalate the interaction to a virtual assistant enabling the student to chat, speak, or video conference with an expert. The expert can also share documents and even guide the student through the process using screen sharing.

Once accepted to the university, students benefit from the smart campus environment with embedded  critical applications, including the campus mobile app, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Student Information Systems (SIS), and IT Service Management (ITSM) applications. With Rainbow students can use the same interface to check on bus schedules as they would to connect with a professor, get an update on a PC problem, or find out if a grant had been received by the university. Rainbow can be interwoven into the entire community experience and when they graduate the university can connect alumni about events taking place on campus.

As universities transition to the cloud, many are left with the challenge of hybrid systems from different manufacturers that may not interoperate seamlessly. It’s not unheard of to have one system for desk phones, one for unified communications and another for contact or call centers. The Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX® Enterprise Communication Server can solve that. It provides redundancy to ensure communications are available at all times, including in times of crisis, and it supports analog, digital, IP, Wi-Fi, PC and mobile devices to deliver the flexibility that smart campuses require.

With safety top-of-mind on all campus environments, the ALE location services solution enables universities to collect and monitor IoT devices, manual alarms (such as panic buttons, fire/gas alarms, and Rainbow alerts), and emergency calls. Once an event is identified, a conference call can be quickly convened with campus experts and first responders, if necessary. Advice provided by the experts can be communicated throughout the campus community using a wide variety of channels including, SMS, outdoor/indoor paging, desk phone speakers, computer pop-ups, and social media. Providing quick response and ensuring student and faculty safety is paramount.

Learn more about how ALE is transforming higher education campuses into smart communities.

Tags - Education, Digital Transformation, Shortest Path Bridging, WLAN

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About the author
Greg Kovich photo for blog author page

Greg Kovich

Global Sales Lead, Education Vertical

Greg Kovich leads global sales for ALE’s Education vertical.  Greg has overseen or created several Education solutions including “The Fundamentals of Communications” – a vendor neutral course on digital network communications; “Safe Campus” – a solution uniting emergency alerts with first responder collaboration and mass notification; “Secure Campus” – a solution that allows instructors to limit student network access to determined sites; and “Pandemic Education Continuity” – a solution that enables classroom instruction in the event the institution is closed due to health or environmental crisis. 

He is a 1992 graduate of Indiana University with over 20 yrs experience in Information Technology.

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