Barnsley College Adopts UC to Pave Way for Enhanced E-Learning

Barnsley College, one of the UK’s leading providers of quality further education, is adopting Unified Communications technology provided by NEC Philips Unified Solutions. The solution, which incorporates Microsoft’s Office Communications Server (OCS), Unified Messaging (UM) and Live Meeting, as well as NEC Philips’ IP telephony, will help the College to streamline business processes by improving the reachability and presence information of staff. This information is invaluable as the College looks to re-furbish its two main campuses necessitating the re-location of staff at short notice without impacting on communication throughout the organisation.

Commenting on the College’s investment in Unified Communications (UC), Chris Barron, ICLT Infrastructure Manager, explains, “We are a strong advocate of Microsoft following years working with their technology, so when we heard of their move into the UC market we were keen to investigate the opportunities this opened up to us. Following our research we expect to reap numerous benefits from UC. Improved staff connectivity and enhanced presence information will have a very positive impact on productivity and efficiency. Given that we have more than 400 members of staff across our campuses, the ability to find out at a glance which member of staff is available is invaluable in speeding up the decision making process, as well as enhancing the communications and collaborations between staff and students.”

By incorporating Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Barnsley also plan to revolutionise their work-life balance by running live broadcasts for staff to attend remotely in place of on-site meetings. Live Meeting provides a collaborative environment for making presentations, sharing files and even desktops, enabling real-time interaction between participants regardless of location. Attendees can also sketch on a virtual whiteboard, and when the meeting is over, Office Live Meeting archives a complete recording of the session.

In addition to the increased efficiency the initial roll out will result in, NEC Philips has been working closely with the College to identify future opportunities to enhance the use of UC. Following the successful completion of the trial across the 400 strong staff base, Barnsley is currently considering plans to roll out UC across its student contingent.

Barron continues “We are currently looking forward to the flexibility and collaborative benefits that providing all our staff with access to UC seems set to generate but are keen not to stop here. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of the sector in terms of our technology and are keen to pass the benefits of our UC investment onto our students through enhance e-learning capabilities. These capabilities could see students securely accessing the College network from any number of remote locations, identifying the status of their lecturers and engaging in tutorials and lectures virtually in the not so distant future – which is very exciting for us.”

“We have an excellent working relationship with NEC Philips and have been very impressed by both the team’s understanding of our requirements and their suggestions for our future development. NEC Philips have reinforced our belief that unified communications is a key driver for the future and delivers real cost savings and other productivity benefits to enterprises. We are very pleased to be working in partnership with this forward-thinking organisation and look forward to our continued success working with them.”