The University of Arkansas and the Future of Education

Technology like video conferencing really is changing the way students learn, in fundamental and important ways – and as a result, more people are able to receive high-quality education, regardless of geographic location, than ever before.

One such instance of video conferencing technology opening important new educational doors comes from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where administrators recently invested in LifeSize equipment in order to offer more courses to its 24,500+ students.  As the state of Arkansas’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Arkansas is classified as a “very high research university,” a designation attained by just 2 percent of the nation’s 4,600 universities.  To meet the university’s goal of providing its students with the very best education possible, regardless of their physical locations, administrators and faculty at the University of Arkansas were interested in expanding the school’s online class offerings, as well as standardizing its video conferencing solutions.

As a major research institution invested in modern educational technology, the University of Arkansas already had some video conferencing hardware in place, and had offered recorded lessons online via Blackboard Learn™ for years.  However, as the school’s online academic programs grew, administrators knew they needed to overhaul their patchwork system and standardize with one provider.  The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing’s partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) 200 miles away in Little Rock proved to be the impetus for implementing this much-needed change.  Nursing students needed to be able to observe medical procedures in real time and in high definition, and to ask their instructors questions.

A committee was assembled to test the major providers’ solutions, and quickly came to the conclusion that LifeSize offered the technology they needed at a price they could afford.

“Once we decided to put video technology in the classroom, it just made sense to standardize on one vendor and purchase the entire package: endpoints, infrastructure and mobile support,” said Mike Duncan, IT services at the University of Arkansas. “LifeSize not only had all of the pieces, it was at an unbeatable value. I had always heard great things about LifeSize from colleagues, but seeing it for myself and realizing how much we could get for the money really solidified the decision for the university.”

The university purchased bundles of LifeSize 220 Series endpoints, as well as LifeSize Bridge, LifeSize Video Center, and LifeSize ClearSea, and their portfolio of online courses has grown commensurately in the time since.  In addition to the nursing program, students in the schools of law, math and biomedical engineering are now making extensive use of the video conferencing solutions, and “overflow classes” – in which small classrooms are connected to each other via endpoints, thus eliminating the problems of overcrowding – are making size limits a thing of the past.

“By making our academic programs more accessible to more students in more places through our relationship with LifeSize, we believe we are fulfilling the university’s vision of transforming lives and inspiring our students to achieve their educational goals,” concluded Duncan. “Video conferencing has opened so many doors for our administrators, faculty and students, and I am fully confident that we will continue to invest in this technology for years to come.”

Check out this news story in Ed-Cetera about how the university is utilizing LifeSize video conferencing solutions.

Read the full University of Arkansas Customer Success Story.

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