Jun 23 2022

The Benefits of Standardizing Collaboration Tools in Higher Ed

As colleges and universities move communication to the cloud, efficiently maximizing existing investments can save money.

Collaboration tools are a necessity for any college or university today. They simplify communication and allow for face-to-face interactions in a virtual world. But there are so many options to choose from that it can be hard to know which is best, and even harder to standardize use across a university system.

Choosing to standardize collaboration on a common learning platform creates an equitable experience for all parties — students, faculty and staff. On the IT side, you’re creating a unified experience that is easy to manage and support. It also leads to better ROI; by consolidating these tools, you’re able to eliminate redundant spending elsewhere, saving money.

In higher education, most colleges and universities are already using the Microsoft ecosystem, such as the Office 365 suite, for project work. If your infrastructure is already based on Microsoft, you can consider adding on Teams Voice to take full advantage of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Below are some benefits of consolidating collaboration in higher education.

READ MORE: Windows 11 introduces new higher education and hybrid workforce features.

Standardizing Cloud Collaboration Eliminates Wasteful Spending

Standardizing communication tools across one service provider can be an easy way to trim unnecessary spending from your university IT budget. For example, higher education institutions already using Microsoft have access to basic Teams functionality, but Teams Voice is an add-on that provides extra communication tools within the Teams platform.

Additionally, many higher ed institutions are seeing the benefits of moving their phone service to the cloud. If your current collaboration tool offers cloud phone service, consider adding it on to your existing plan. This standardization helps save money, removing duplicate spending on niche solutions that do what the platform you already invest in is already capable of doing.

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Collaboration Tool Migration Can Be Simple and Efficient

Migration to a new platform does not have to be complicated, especially when your institution’s directory information is already stored within your current collaboration tool.

Our team at CDW Education can work with colleges and universities on this migration, helping to ensure your infrastructure is set up to make the switch and then guiding you through activation and migration. We can also leave you with best practices and education to make sure your IT teams are knowledgeable about the system to support it moving forward.

Whether it’s providing a roadmap to when and where you’ll be able to make the transition, helping your team implement the system, or providing support on the back end, we can help at any stage in the process, providing professional skill sets and design capabilities to ensure a smooth transition.

In the case of Microsoft, adding Teams Voice to your existing infrastructure offers a seamless transition, as your Microsoft Active Directory profiles will be automatically migrated to the new system. Rather than searching through a campus directory to make a phone call from your desk phone, voice and video calls can be made from the platform with a few clicks.

LEARN MORE: Maximize Microsoft Teams for higher ed hybrid work.

Encourage Consistent Platform Use from the Top Down

Standardizing collaboration tools is only effective if people are using the new platform exclusively. In most cases, it’s not an issue of user education. Students are savvy technology users, and most platforms are intuitive enough that they should be able to pick them up quickly. In order to get students to switch from their preferred collaboration tools to one the university is making a significant investment in, they need to see standardized use from faculty and staff.

If faculty and staff aren’t using the preferred tools, students will be less likely to use them as well. For example, if the administration requests that faculty hold course materials and conduct collaboration in the Microsoft environment, students will become used to the platform and continue to use it as a habit.

Technology investments are most efficient when used to their full potential. A CDW Education specialist can help ensure you’re getting the most out of your current ecosystem.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.

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