How Zoom Phone Helps Schools Overcome 3 Big Telephony Challenges
Even as schools embrace digital methods of teaching, learning, and communicating, telephony remains an important part of campus communications. Teachers, administrators, and parents are more likely to pick up the phone than send an email when it comes to an urgent student issue or time-sensitive conversation.
But the legacy digital phone system posed a number of issues for Solano County Office of Education (SCOE), which provides services, support, and programs to districts throughout Solano County, California. Steven Ramos, director of information services and technology at SCOE, shares why switching to a modern cloud VoIP phone system like Zoom Phone solved their telephony challenges.
Challenge #1: An ‘antiquated, difficult to maintain’ phone system
“Our old [on-premises] digital phone system was becoming obsolete,” Ramos said. “It was antiquated, costly, and difficult to maintain from a technical standpoint. We had to have a network engineer install new phones.”
Not only that, the legacy phone system just wasn’t user-friendly. “People couldn’t figure out how to forward a phone call. People didn’t know how to check their voicemail unless they were in the office,” Ramos added.
‘It didn’t take a huge army of technicians’
After a trial with the technology department, Ramos’ team of three deployed Zoom Phone to 250 users at SCOE’s headquarters and three school campuses. “It didn’t take a huge army of technicians,” Ramos said. “It went really smoothly. We don’t need an engineer to run our phone system now, which is great for schools.”
Challenge #2: ‘Mobility was a big issue’
When teachers moved to new classrooms and administrators moved offices, there was no easy way to reprogram phones so staff could keep their existing phone numbers.
“The phone number didn’t follow the person,” Ramos said. “Mobility was a big issue. When a person moved to a different location, we had to change their phone number, reprint business cards, and directories.”
‘One phone number does everything’
“With Zoom Phone, once an employee’s phone number is issued, it’s their phone number,” Ramos said.
Not only did this address logistical issues related to business cards and directories, it also allowed SCOE employees to easily reach each other while working remotely during the pandemic.
“We don’t have to remember where people are or ask ‘What number should I use?’ There’s just one number to call,” Ramos said. “One phone number does everything. Any time, any place, any device.”
Challenge #3: No privacy for educators
Once SCOE switched to remote instruction, educators no longer had access to their school phones to contact parents and students.
“That was a big issue in schools [during COVID],” Ramos said. “What phone do they use? When they’re not on campus, they have to make calls from a personal cell. This creates issues around accountability. You don’t always want students and families to have their teacher’s private number.”
‘Your work number is your work number’
“[Zoom Phone] gives employees a solution to the issue of using a personal cellphone to conduct government business,” Ramos said. “It’s hugely important for schools and public entities. With Zoom Phone, your work number is your work number. It’s your office number, your SMS text number, and your mobile number.”
More Zoom Phone features SCOE faculty & staff rely on
According to Ramos, these Zoom Phone features are particularly valuable for helping faculty and staff communicate and do their jobs remotely:
- Call queues — “We set up a support line for parents that rings six people in a call queue to make sure they reach a human being. We couldn’t have done that with our old phone system.”
- Outbound caller ID — “You don’t need to disclose your personal cell to anyone.”
- SMS messaging — “When teachers use their personal cell for SMS communication for work, that makes their entire collection of text messages potentially discoverable. We tell staff, all messaging to and from families and students should go through the Zoom channel.”
- Softphone — “We can get by with having one-fourth as many desk phones. It makes more sense to have a phone conversation using the softphone on your computer.”
- Zoom directory — “I don’t need to go looking for a directory. I pick up my phone and go to the Zoom directory, type in a name, and connect.”
- Call delegation — “Before, we would need a network engineer to program our digital phone system. Call delegation is one of those under-the-hood features that works extraordinarily well.”
- Elevate to meeting — “Being able to convert a phone call into a meeting so I can do screen sharing is big.”