Real Time Communications Featured Article

Back to School: The Immersive Role of RTC in Higher Education

August 27, 2015

In the quest for real-time communications, we often think about the demand and benefits of receiving information the minute we need it. We want the answer to our product question instantly; we want to download the app and use it without delay; and we also want the availability of processes and information, regardless of the channel or time.

While the demands are many, the technology behind real-time communications generally enables companies to meet the expectation without incurring significant costs. But communicating in real-time means different things to different people, which can introduce new complexities. At the same time, it can also introduce new opportunities, especially in higher education.

A recent Ed Tech Magazine report examined the trend in higher education. At the University of Utah, students with a bent toward entrepreneurship can experience a hybrid residence hall and startup incubator. The concept developed out of the students’ need to connect with others who could contribute value to their projects.

For instance, the engineering entrepreneur has access to all the engineering help he needs, but the ability to collaborate with students with design and sales backgrounds would prove valuable. Landline phone connections won’t be a reality in the new hall and incubator as Wi-Fi will be used as the primary means to stay connected. The use of technology and an open floor plan will enable students to collaborate in real-time, making those important connections with each other to advance their projects.

This new approach to residential life is creating a demand for real-time communications in ways that weren’t conceived by the prior generation. Access to the technology we have today is enabling new connections through high-definition television screens, high-speed wireless connectivity and video conferencing tools. Moveable furniture completes the setting, giving students the means to create the environment they need to further their collective efforts.  


Universities around the country are embracing the opportunity to enable real-time communications and collaboration among students. The University of Michigan built its North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex as a means to integrate technology and collaboration where learning, living and working spaces blend together. Indiana University-Bloomington offers Spruce Hall, an environment designed to foster student connections.

In higher education today, universities are no longer creating spaces for students based on traditional learning assumptions. Instead, they are developing the technology tools necessary to enable students to create their own collaborative experience, leveraging real-time communications. The advancements are impressive and potential student outcomes admirable. Now, the companies considering hiring these students once their education is complete will have to step up to the plate.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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