Free University Videoconferencing Solutions
Online learning won’t work if students and staff can’t reliably see and hear each other during scheduled class time or one-on-one appointments. To make these interactions easier, schools can now leverage solutions such as:
- Cisco Webex: To help schools transition from in-class to online learning activities, Cisco has made its Webex connection platform available free of charge. After signing up for an account, teachers can draft virtual lesson plans, schedule class sessions and meet with students virtually using Cisco’s Webex Edge Connect and Webex Edge Audio.
- Pronto: Pronto combines chat and video applications to help students and teachers connect and is now available for free upon request.
- Avaya: The Avaya Spaces platform is free for educators through August 31, to provide real-time video connection and collaboration.
- Zoom: One of the most popular and powerful video meeting tools, Zoom offers high-quality videoconferencing with virtually no lag, jitter or distortion. Zoom has now lifted the 40-minute limit on basic accounts to help colleges connect with students on demand.
Free Higher Ed Communication and Management Tools
For e-learning to deliver successful outcomes, faculty must be able to communicate with other staff and manage their classroom initiatives. Potential online options include:
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams empowers real-time collaboration and communication across documents, applications and services. The upgraded free version is now available to anyone — and has seen a 500 percent uptick in adoption since January as enterprises and educational organizations make the Teams transition.
- Raftr: Communication tool Raftr is now free for post-secondary schools until July 1. Educators and administrators get access to public and private chat channels, can hold “office hours” in private channels and have the ability to create unlimited educational groups.
- Bisk: Bisk makes it easy for schools to manage strategic planning at scale, create new online programs and deliver on-demand student support. Schools can now access Bisk’s faculty training course at no cost through June 30.
Free Tools for Remote Learning Still Need Security
Regardless of what tools colleges choose to support their e-learning initiatives, security remains a paramount concern. With remote education and work evolving rapidly, both in-code vulnerabilities and implementation issues represent increased data breach risks. The widespread use of home Wi-Fi connections, meanwhile, comes with the potential for “man in the middle” or eavesdropping attacks.
In addition to keeping an eye on current cybersecurity trends and installing all recommended updates, it’s also a good idea for schools to consider the use of virtual private networks and secure cloud solutions to enhance overall protection.