How universities are using video conferencing technology

Monday, October 21 2013
How universities are using video conferencing technology

Video conferencing software is standard in the corporate world, but it's also becoming commonplace in academia. Colleges and universities around the country have begun to realize that they can use the business communications technology to improve administrative tasks and education.

Every school has a different reason for using remote meeting software. Educational institutions should learn from each other to determine which practices they should implement. Read on for a look at some different strategies universities can use moving forward.

Auburn bolsters remote education
According to Campus Technology, Auburn University's Harrison School of Pharmacy has expanded its use of collaboration tools to improve its programs. The school operates classes on Auburn's campuses throughout Alabama, including ones in Auburn, Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. Barry McConatha, manager of information and instructional technology at the Harrison School of Pharmacy, explained that recording classes and disseminating them to every campus is extremely beneficial.

"We capture lectures and meetings and we can generate training videos. Anyone can make a recording from one of our 147 video enabled rooms across the main and satellite campuses, and it's all centralized, which is a huge value-add to us," McConatha said in a statement.

The technology also acts as a backup system in case of emergencies. Students will be able to watch lectures online when they're unable to commute to school for various reasons, such as personal matters and weather emergencies. This should go a long way toward minimizing absences and keeping people engaged with their lessons.

Better interviews for staffing
That's not to say that video conferencing only improves education, as the resource can also help administrators strengthen the faculty by hiring better personnel. In a report for Inside Higher Education, Angela Provart, president of the Pauly Group, a college consulting firm, wrote that universities usually receive 60 to 70 applications for every opening. From that group, schools usually interview about 12 candidates in remote meetings. Finally, three or four applicants are brought to the school for an in-person interview, which is considered to be the most important part of the recruiting process. 

This approach is beneficial from a financial perspective. Instead of paying for dozens of potential faculty members to travel to the campus, universities can find the best applicants beforehand. As a result, institutions only have to cover bills for the people who are most likely to be asked to join the team.

Helping students succeed
Some universities are also using video conferencing to prepare their students for life beyond academia. For instance, the University of Chicago Law School allows future graduates to use its technology to participate in remote interviews with potential employers. This ensures that everyone can maximize their chances of landing a job as soon as they earn their degrees.

Students may appreciate this strategy more than others because finding work is a stressful prospect to many people. Universities should consider allowing employers to conduct interviews through on-campus communications technology to keep kids satisfied.