When the first lockdown was announced last year in March, educational institutions were one of the first to have been closed, and yet education delivery didn’t stop, even though these institutes faced challenges in transitioning to fully online education delivery. “Unlike the IT or healthcare sectors that were already undergoing a slow but steady digital transformation, the education space was far behind in terms of technology and virtual interactions,” says Vishal Agrawal, MD, India & SAARC, Avaya, which offers the Avaya Spaces digital solution for both corporates and educational institutions. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that Avaya Spaces enables teachers and students to connect virtually, share content and coursework, and maintain the ‘human connection’ that is so vital to the well-rounded development of young minds. Excerpts:
Avaya Spaces is a digital collaboration tool. But is Avaya Spaces for educational institutes different from Avaya Spaces for corporates?
The core, i.e. the videoconferencing part, remains the same. But education delivery is not merely about videoconferencing, it’s more about how teachers engage with students, how immersive that engagement is, and that there should be proper and meaningful communication between teachers, students and parents. Institutes that are using Avaya Spaces have been able to ensure that the growth curve of students and the quality of education delivered is not compromised.
We also made Avaya Spaces free to educational institutions, including colleges and universities, along with non-profit organisations, with the goal of protecting students while ensuring continuity of classes.
What all Avaya Spaces brings on board for an educational institute?
Avaya Spaces gets integrated with a learning management system. It enables teachers and students to connect virtually, share content and coursework, and maintain the ‘human connection’ that is so vital to the well-rounded development of young minds.
As far as campus is concerned, it can help improve security and response capabilities—by disseminating information rapidly and consistently to security, students and faculty, automatically sending alerts by email, SMS or voice when a critical event occurs, and sending specific notifications by different regions of the campus.
It also helps improve academic quality—by providing online and offline learning experiences, as well as online and hybrid learning solutions.
It can also support your recruitment needs—by connecting with applicants beyond traditional geographies and communication channels.
So Avaya Spaces isn’t just another videoconferencing tool?
As I said, it gets integrated with the learning management system an institute may be already using. Therefore, in addition to promoting online meetings between parents and teachers, it also allows teachers to create virtual classrooms and invite their students to take part in videoconference lessons. Tools such as live student Q&A sessions and other task management features make it easy for them to assign students homework. Teachers can further upload learning material directly into the virtual classroom for consumption at any moment with Avaya Spaces’ unrestricted cloud storage. Our solution has allowed students and teachers to share documents securely, organise collaboration, and allocate and monitor coursework irrespective of where they are located. Also, Avaya Spaces is institute-agnostic, i.e. it can be used by any kind of educational institute from higher education to schools to coaching institutes and so on.
With educational institutes reopening in due course of time, do you think the usage of technology will reduce?
If usage is measured in the number of hours, it will definitely be impacted. However, the future clearly is blended or hybrid learning. Therefore, technology going forward will become more sophisticated, collaboration platforms will become a lot more integrated with learning management systems, and communications and content management will improve drastically. Tech intervention will go significantly higher in the field of education.
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