The landscape in higher education continues to change. In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics showing that college enrollment declined for the first time in six years in the fall of 2012. (U.S. Census Bureau, 9/2013), and nearly half of Moody’s rated public and private universities were anticipating total enrollment declines in 2014 (Moody’s 2014 Industry Outlook, Nov. 25. 2013). Given some of these changes, colleges and universities across the nation are looking to technology to drive new and innovative initiatives to attract and retain students and faculty, to differentiate themselves from their peers, and to improve the educational experience.
Wake Forest University is a great example of a university that is using collaboration solutions to address some of these challenges. By deploying collaboration tools throughout the university, Wake Forest has been able to establish new connections between students, teachers, and administrators in a way that enriches learning for the entire university and reinvents the higher education experience.
“Collaboration provides an opportunity to enhance all aspects of the university, from the classroom to research, from administration to community,” says Nancy Crouch, deputy CIO at Wake Forest. “We’re just at the start of a new wave of collaboration at Wake Forest that will change the way we work and live at the university and beyond.”
For example, Wake Forest’s study abroad program has been enhanced through WebEx, allowing students to spend time abroad while also staying connected with professors via video conferencing. Students are able to gain the first-hand experiences of being abroad, while also having access to one-on-one discussions with professors.
In another area, researchers in Wake Forest’s field of computational biophysics are making great progress in solving complex research tasks that previously were moving slowly due to logistical barriers. Wake Forest’s researchers are able to work closely with software engineers on the other side of the country at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to efficiently solve problems that used to involve high expenses and hours of travel to work on.
Wake Forest’s professors have become much more accessible outside of the classroom too. Students are now able to attend office hours online. In these online sessions, students are able to ask more questions and work closely with professors outside of class to deepen their understanding of course material.
And this is just one example and a small glimpse demonstrating how collaboration solutions can help educational leaders adjust to the changing higher education landscape, meet key imperatives, and help elevate higher education to the next level. Learn more about solutions for higher education on the Cisco Higher Education page.
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