UC Today spoke to Craig Walker, Global Head of SaaS Integration at ALE
Many companies have been guilty of shoehorning a collaboration tool into a scenario that it wasn’t designed for over the course of the last 18 months.
It may not have been ideal but was, generally, a quick fix while businesses prepared for a more permanent state of remote or hybrid working.
But one industry has been forced to carry on with unoptimised collaboration platforms is the education space, according to Craig Walker, Global Head of SaaS Integration at Alcatel Lucent Enterprise.
Speaking to UC Today, he explained that many education institutions have been using generic platforms to communicate with students remotely – which has presented a number of difficulties.
Ranging from maintaining the persistence of a course and reviewing previous lessons, to accessing resources and keeping virtual classrooms secure – many obstacles are still being overcome by both teachers and students.
It was these obstacles that led to the inception of Rainbow Classroom by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.
Rainbow Classroom is built on ALE’s Rainbow CPaaS but it has been architected from the ground up to extend the physical classroom to an active, collaborative learning environment, rather than being a slightly remoulded corporate comms platform.
The aim, Walker said, is to solve common problems in the education sector, with the technology itself fading into the background.
“We looked at this from the teacher’s life, the student’s life and the admin’s life to create the user experience,” he explained.
“The goal was to make everything easier for all concerned and provide engaging education by getting the technology out of the way.
“We didn’t want to provide a passive learning environment like a lot of platforms; we wanted to create an active learning environment for students to perform at the best of their ability.”
Rainbow Classroom achieves this by integrating seamlessly with an education institution’s existing learning management system (LMS).
The virtual classroom is persistent across the duration of an academic course and becomes a digital hub for students – housing elements such as recorded lessons, virtual whiteboards, work documents and chat histories.
Students also use the same known LMS access throughout the course, rather than having a separate link each week which disintegrates course material.
Hybrid working may have been the buzzword of 2021, but the impact of the pandemic means that that education space will also see a permanent change – particularly in the older age ranges.
This is where Rainbow Classroom excels, Walker said, as a result of being built from scratch with hybrid in mind.
“Enterprise conferencing systems are not set up for hybrid learning, and there’s also no persistence with them either,” he explained.
“With Rainbow Classroom, the student can participate whether they’re in-class or remote, and even if they’re in class it’s still useful to be able to go home and view the whiteboard from their lesson while they’re revising or doing their homework”
“The teacher can manage the students in front of them and the students remotely, and they can get affirmation of whether what they’ve taught is understood because the remote students aren’t just watching a recording.
This hybrid flexibility is enhanced by Rainbow Classroom’s composable nature. Being built on top of the Rainbow CPaaS platform means that other learning systems and tools can be plugged in to boost functionality.
It also means that student will still be using the LMS that they are used to, albeit with added features from Rainbow Classroom, helping to drive adoption.
From an IT admin perspective, this means that Rainbow Classroom can fit within an institutions current security and compliance policies. ALE is a data processor, rather than a data controller, meaning IT teams can have confidence when using the platform and have the option to extend capabilities – rather than having to install something entirely new.”
ALE is, as you’d expect, focusing on growing Rainbow Classroom’s presence in the education sector.
Walker said that interest has been seen across the world, ranging from individual schools and colleges to whole districts with hundreds of thousands of students.
However, the long-term strategy is to also take the platform into the commercial space.
Opportunities outside of education include corporate training and HR exercises that have a need for real-time learning and documentation of sessions.
“To maintain that enhanced personal interaction, we’re making sure that the platform we deliver this from is ready to keep the user experience at the level we need it to be,” Walker concluded.