How video communications are leading the way at universities around the world

“Video-based communications can prepare students for a future built on collaboration, and flexibility, no matter what they are studying”

Educational institutions play a major role in generating a new skilled workforce that has the potential to open the doors to the innovations that will change the world.

To achieve this, school administrators and educators must be able to communicate with each other and their students in real-time. Helping to realise that ambition is video collaboration, which has many benefits.

It allows for face-to-face meetings with professors and lecturers across the world in different times zones; it provides access to online courses and meetings with faculties from different universities. Plus, students are using these tools to connect with other students and experts across continents, to collaborate and work on projects together.

Video communication enables students to take advantage of collaborative and hybrid classrooms. Using it to attend regular, in-class sessions for a particular course shows how technology is now taking distance learning to the next level, allowing innovative educators to plan interactive teaching based on their students’ needs, no matter where they are located.

Thanks to advanced video communications technologies, students based cross border can now work together on the same projects in a collaborative environment, enjoying valuable face-face chats with other students to discuss and share ideas and give feedback. It also lets students continue group projects after campus hours from anywhere. These benefits can be delivered with relatively little investment and since it doesn’t require on-site deployment, it reduces the infrastructure expenses for institutions.

One institution that faced a challenge common to many schools offering distance education is the University of Northern Iowa, where students and educators are often situated far apart from one another.

To promote interactive, rich communication, the university wanted to improve on previous solutions to allow for easier-to-use collaboration tools that do not require participants to travel to central meeting locations. Additionally, the tools needed to be versatile and scalable, with an uncomplicated video communications platform for faculty to engage with students and peers across distances.

The university deployed Zoom on-site to manage its video conferences. A great benefit to the University was that Zoom can be used easily across various mobile devices like iOS and Android, as well as traditional desktop and laptop platforms supporting Mac and Windows operating systems.

Zoom gave the university a number of other benefits:

  • An easy-to-use platform
  • A way to communicate with people without unnecessary hassles or travel; with a positive effect on the environment
  • A collaborative environment in which organisations could function without forcing people into face-to-face meetings
  • More flexible with meetings and schedules (particularly due to Zoom’s mobile accessibility)
  • The ability to cater to literacy coaches who are based in distant parts of the state

On the other side of the world, listed as one of the top 500 universities in the world by is Western Sydney University (WSU). One of Australia’s leading academic institutions, it serves 43,000 students across eight campuses.

“Thanks to advanced video communications technologies, students based cross border can now work together on the same projects in a collaborative environment”

For years, WSU used a mix of video communications solutions, but it ran into several problems and was very disappointed with web communications available to them. As for the conference rooms, the systems worked well enough, but they were reaching the end of life – as all hardware eventually does – and were going to be extremely expensive to replace.

WSU introduced using Zoom and found it had great performance, an easy user interface, and extremely low cost of ownership. The Zoom Rooms, in particular, have saved the university $1.5 million-plus maintenance costs compared to if they had just refreshed the existing hardware. Not only that, usage of the same rooms went up by 400% when they traded out the traditional hardware for Zoom Rooms and its easy iPad interface.

Two years later, over 5,000 staff and students are hosting Zoom meetings, totalling over half a million meeting minutes each month.

With technology becoming an essential part of life, and Universities preparing students for life, moving to video-based communications is set to prepare students for a future built on collaboration, and flexibility; no matter what they are studying, or where they are studying it.

About the author: Daniel Creigh, is head of UK and Ireland, Zoom Communications