When assessing the value of moving forward with a technology investment, costs and benefits have to be considered from every angle. But the first and most important question is simple:
“What’s the pain point this will address?”
For colleges and universities in 2020, however, the better question might be: “Where AREN’T we experiencing pain?”
It’s not just about COVID-19. Higher education institutions also have to grapple with increased competition for students, ever-rising tuition costs, the struggle to keep up with technological advances, and learners’ changing expectations of the educational experience. Everywhere an administrator, IT professional or faculty member turns, urgency and uncertainty abound.
The one thing colleges and universities know for sure is that whatever plans, solutions and strategies they adopt, they’re going to have to be FLEXIBLE in order to adapt to changes that are sure to come, but whose nature and ramifications can’t entirely be foreseen.
That’s a principal reason ClearTech’s new EduFLEX hybrid classroom solution has been so quickly and widely embraced by colleges and universities. But it’s not the only reason for the enthusiastic welcome.
An urgency to adapt
One of the first customers for EduFLEX was Pepperdine University. Challenged to deploy a reliable, versatile remote learning solution on a “very tight timeline” for more than 160 classrooms, Jared Mukai, Ph.D., manager of AV technologies and special projects at the private Southern California university, saw EduFLEX as the “clear choice given its reliability, flexibility and versatility to transform distance learning environments into engaging teaching experiences.”
Continues Mukai: “There were a lot of complexities we needed to work through on a very tight timeline to ensure we’d be ready to support our students and teachers with online class instruction by mid-August [of 2020]. We evaluated various scenarios but with the uncertainty of the new academic year, we knew we needed a solution that could support all types of learning environments.”
EduFlex not only gave Pepperdine the flexibility and ease of use it required, it met the needs of students, faculty, support staff and other stakeholders without compromising the quality of the educational experience – and just as important: without breaking the bank.
A true plug-and-play solution
Pre-configured for immediate use, EduFLEX is a portable, self-contained system that converts most any space into a hybrid learning environment quickly and easily, even for a non-expert (see the EduFLEX spec sheet).
“Choose from a portable system that incorporates all components in a rolling case, or a desktop/rack-mountable system with all components built in,” says ClearTech founder Christina De Bono. “You can set up both systems in five minutes simply by plugging in an HDMI cable and setting up your camera.”
Offering all the benefits of unified communications without all the hardware that used to come along with it, EduFLEX frees colleges and universities from the rigidity of complex, hardware-based systems.
EduFLEX is simple to operate and maintain. It’s economical to purchase. And effortless to scale. Not only that, EduFLEX works with schools’ existing technology infrastructures and can easily be customized to accommodate not just real-time instruction, but self-paced, asynchronous learning as well as small-group instruction.
The solution higher ed institutions need right now.
“We listened very carefully to our customers to get a clear sense of their needs,” says Joe Perez, CTO of ClearTech. “Students want the best possible experience, one consistent with how they consume technology elsewhere.
“Today’s digital learners view effortless, consistent connectivity as a mandatory – especially considering the price they pay for tuition,” he continues. “Engaging students online can be challenging under the best of circumstances, so simplicity and rock-solid reliability are imperative.”
Faculty also need distance learning solutions that they can count on and control, and that won’t detract from their mission to educate. Similarly, administrative and support staff require workable, scalable solutions for classroom conversion and everyday technology maintenance. Support staff are spread thin. They can’t do it all, so they need technology solutions that do the work for them.
“And then there’s the executive leadership,” says Perez. “Administrators need the numbers to add up, and they need the solution to reinforce the brand they’ve created. And most important, they have to keep students’ and staff members’ safety and security in the forefront.”
In an era of skyrocketing costs and competition, university administrators are not interested in settling for “good enough.”
When ClearTech introduced EduFLEX in August of 2020, administrators and techies alike reacted with excitement and relief in equal measure.
“This changes everything.”
“Say that again: I don’t need to run new cable?”
“It’s THAT easy?”
Important questions when time is of the essence
“Hybrid technology had already arrived on college campuses before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic injected a whole new level of uncertainty and urgency into the equation,” says Christina De Bono. “No one could predict the course of the pandemic. No one could foretell how students would react to the virus – whether they’d be comfortable attending class on campus, or insist on learning remotely. Uncertainty surrounded faculty and support staff as well.
“Amid all these unknowns,” continues De Bono, “EduFLEX provides welcome certainty – certainty that learning can continue wherever students happen to be. And that reassurance really does change everything.”