Hosted VoIP for Schools and Educational Institutions
Technology is radically transforming the global landscape, and the learning environment is not exempted. Like many businesses today, educational institutions prioritize collaboration and communication in the classroom and out of it. This is where the school phone system comes into play, but the current financial climate is not favorable.
Both public and private schools are affected by the lack of adequate financial resources. Since 2008, the financial support states offers schools has reduced, leading to concordant increases in costs of books, computer equipment, and classroom supplies.
What is VoIP?
VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, is a communications technology in which voice calls, video, and data, are transmitted over the internet, instead of over a publicly switched telephone network.
In a hosted VoIP solution, all you need to run your school communication system is situated off-site, with all hardware and software owned and maintained by a third-party provider.
Because it is IP-based, a separate voice network is not required, just a fast-broadband connection and IP-enabled devices.
VoIP is rapidly gaining popularity today amongst schools because:
- Overall planning and productivity are more efficient, as VoIP makes the best use of available tools
- Fast-speed bandwidth is readily available
- Call routing and handling is not only faster but also more accurate, which is especially useful in connecting parents with teachers
- Many advanced communication and collaboration tools are only available with VoIP
- Communication is instant, and this system supports the use of enhanced 911 services to get exact location during emergencies.
Features of VoIP
1. Call for free
Many VoIP providers enable you to place calls to calls to people on your phone network free of charge. You can call anyone you want to as long as their phones are connected to the phone system without you paying for it.
This feature comes in handy in saving significant amounts of money as several of the calls that are placed in a school system are usually within the school. Not only that, calls placed to other Session Initiation Protocol-based phones are free too, irrespective of whether they are linked to your network or not.
2. No contracts required
With some providers, you do not need contracts, which usually last a month for service. This leaves schools with a greater room for maneuver in the financial category. On the other hand, other phone systems and services need you to enter contracts and buy some other features, making it more difficult for you to leave even when the contract expires.
3. Low Maintenance
A lot of schools today still use analog Private Branch Exchange phone systems. The maintenance of these PBXes is quite intensive, meaning that these systems get more expensive and more challenging to maintain each year.
A VoIP system, in contrast, does not need such intensive maintenance. The third-party VoIP company maintains the basic components of VoIP systems.
The support systems of VoIP services are also usually free and throughout the day. Not only that, but their support team can also assist your technical staff in solving some issues that are not relating to the VoIP provider. This will ultimately save both time and effort.
4. Fast Setup
You don’t have to worry about spending too much time during installation, as you can get one installed in under an hour. A few of the distinguishing features of setting up a VoIP system are:
- An admin portal interface on the web
- Activation is instant
- You can set it up yourself without external help
- You can get all you need from stores
The whole VoIP system can be installed at night, during off-hours for students, and be ready for use in the morning.
5. Intercom Support
The majority of classrooms and school offices around the country have intercom systems. Naturally, the equipment required to run intercoms and phone systems differ, but you can combine the latter with a VoIP system and pass information across straight from your desk phone. Your technical staff can create these kinds of VoIP-Intercom lines for people that need it.
6. Calling Features
Several calling features are available with VoIP systems for both big and small schools. Here are a few of the most typical ones:
With this feature, an automatic response can be configured with a greeting and some options on the menu that can route calls to other lines. The automatic response is usually a professional one.
Districts for different schools can even customize the options on the menu.
The caller ID can also be displayed on incoming calls, depending on how you configure it. This way, the receiver can have some information on the caller. The information of the caller that will be displayed at the receiver’s end can be set at individual schools or districts.
This feature enables calls to be routed to the right office or person. When a person is done for the day or takes a break, the person simply leaves the queue, and incoming calls are no longer routed to the person’s line.
Another calling feature available is the ability to use groups to manage calls in a team or office. This is an efficient way of handling calls.
- Business Hour Routing
You can also set a fixed time when calls will be attended to, usually within the school and business hours. Incoming calls outside the set time will be sent to a voicemail box where you can visit them later.
- Hold Audio
There are times where callers may have to be placed on hold, and at such times, set music or some other customized audio stream can be played. It may be a good time to air special announcements.
- HD Conferencing
This feature enables participation in quality meetings over a phone. Administrators may take advantage of this to hold discussions between parents and teachers.