Voip & Unified Communications f Nick Campanella hDecember 10, 2018

The Best VoIP Phone Systems for Schools and Which Features to Look For

Most organizations these days are either looking to transition to VoIP for their communications needs, or they've already made the switch. Since businesses and industrial leaders discovered the savings and flexibility of having their management and sales employees be able to access their internal systems from any remote location, their economic sectors became naturally attracted to VoIP.

Schools are now following the trend in migration from landlines to VoIP office phone systems. In addition to cheaper business phone plans, VoIP offers so many cloud phone system features that benefit schools, such as including vastly expanded conference and video conferencing capabilities, and a wide array of other features that new VoIP users soon come to see as indispensable to their daily routines.

VoIP features vary between VoIP providers, and cloud-based service providers add even greater convenience and advanced features, but all VoIP services offer the same important benefits in greater manageability of communications for schools that the early adopters in other fields have realized. We're going to show you which VoIP features can benefit your school most, and which providers offer the best range of features that fit your school's needs.

VoIP Features for Schools

VoIP for schools offer all of the same functionality of business phone systems, plus many additional important features that enable faster, more efficient, and versatile communications. These state-of-the-art tools help education system administrators and staff keep pace with the communications behaviors and expectations of today's tech-savvy parents, students, public agencies, media services, services providers, and others.

Online Faxing

Online fax sends scanned paper documents or digitally created documents in a digital file format from your computer or mobile device via the internet. The modern online faxing alternative to traditional faxing that requires feeding paper documents into a stand-alone fax machine to send and physically removing received paper documents from the fax machine after they are printed out. Online faxing lets you fax securely and directly from your school office, classroom, home, off-campus meeting, hotel room, or anywhere else with a web connection.

Features and Benefits of Online Faxing

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing systems enables real-time video communication among many people in different locations, allowing teachers, students, parents and administrators, vendors, etc., to meet from their various locations, but they all have the sense that they’re in the same room. Video conferencing is mostly through digital ISDN and IP transmission systems, which can deliver tons of data created from the cameras and mics during use. These systems provide ultra-high-quality images and audio, making it seem like really being in a face-to-face meeting.

The new Internet-based systems also require much less hardware and installation expense than previous generations of video conferencing technology. State-of-the-art telepresence systems produce high-fidelity audio and video for better, more life-like experiences in seminars, presentations by guest speakers for colloquia and other featured teaching events.

Features and Benefits of Video Conferencing

Digital Whiteboards

High-tech whiteboards resemble the conventional dry-erase boards that students are already familiar with, but they are loaded with modern features to facilitate interactive, modern learning. Today's state-of-the-art interactive digital whiteboards can use their whiteboard teaching aids in ways not previously possible.

State-of-the-art digital whiteboards interact with computer software programs, digital documents and photo files, all by touching the board's screen. The whiteboard's touchpad is connected to a computer, and the computer is connected to a projector. The class instructor can alter information on the board, copy and move it to the next slide. He/she can write on it like on a traditional whiteboard, but the digital board turns the handwriting on the board into text, which can be immediately retrieved for reference during the class session.

Features and Benefits of Digital Whiteboards

Call Routing

There is no expensive hardware involved in a VoIP system, unlike traditional business-grade phone systems. Your telecommunications system is all hosted by your service provider, meaning that all of the equipment needed for your school’s communications system to operate are off-site, managed remotely by your VoIP service provider.

Features and Benefits of Call Routing

Automatic Call Distribution

An ACD system is a more sophisticated version of Call Hunting. Instead of going to just one of a selection of phones, the intelligent ACD call routing systems put the correct person on the phone for every call. Instead of linear-based call routing, which always connects to the first available extension, the intelligent ACD systems distributes calls either evenly across the phone lines or routes to the most qualified available agent. The auto-attendant (IVR) directs the call to the appropriate individual. The ACD identifies the caller's location, the time of day, the language the caller is speaking, and the nature of the issue the caller wants to discuss.

Features and Benefits of ACD

Conference Bridging

The Conference Bridge feature of VoIP allows large groups of people to participate in a phone call. Conventional phone service limits conference calling to a maximum of three people. This advanced system can accommodate hundreds of participants on a single call, all at the same time. Conference Bridging eliminates communications the problem of long-distance travel, hectic schedules, and financial limits as obstacles to scheduling meetings. Timely and effective interaction between school administrators, faculty members, other school workers, parents, students, various school services providers, and many stakeholders in the larger community is the central requirement for any successful academic organization.

Features and Benefits of Conference Bridging

Voicemail-to-Email

If you have to be out of your school office frequently, out and about on campus or off-site at district meetings or at school-related events away from campus, you need a phone system that allows you to have your voicemails automatically routed to your mobile phone or other devices. Voicemail-to-Email technology also lets you silently check your messages to capture important calls without interrupting your current meeting.

Features and Benefits of Voicemail-to-Email

Top VoIP Providers for Schools

Compare the functional features that business VoIP services providers offer that can benefit schools. Popular providers include RingCentral, VonageNextivaJive8x8, Dialpad, Mitel, among others. Here are some side-by-side comparisons of VoIP for schools key features:

Online Faxing Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Video Conferencing No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Call Routing Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Conference Calls Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Voicemail Transcription Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Call Recording Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Department Auto Recording Yes
Call Forwarding Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes
Automated Group SMS Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
VoIP Equipment for Schools

So now that we know what to look for when shopping for VoIP equipment and conference room hardware for schools, let's take a closer look at some of the equipment itself. There's a wide range in equipment, price, makes, models, and buying options to consider before finalizing a purchase. We want to make sure you have enough information on each piece of equipment to make the most informed decision possible. More specifically, we're going to look at VoIP phones, mics, paging/intercom systems, conferencing equipment, and digital whiteboards.

VoIP Phone Systems for Schools

Polycom VVX600

This VoIP phone earns high praise from a number of websites for many reasons. One of the most important ones being the price: it's currently listed at $185 on Amazon. You'll find that most phones are meant for businesses, but as we've previously discussed, there's a ton of crossover into the education field.

It has a 4.3-inch, gesture-controlled touch screen interface; it has HD voice quality; and it even lets you manage your Microsoft Exchange calendar, which is great for secretaries who are scheduling meetings with administrators, teachers, and parents.

 

Grandstream GXV3275

This VoIP phone is an Android 4.2-based system that runs a large number and variety of Android apps. Those apps can also be accessed right from the phone itself, making it easier for the phone to integrate with other software already in place.

The phone comes with a 7" touch screen with 1024*600 resolution as well. This makes it ideal for video conference calling. At $279 on Amazon, the Grandstream GXV3275 is within the same price range as the Polycom VVX600. If integrations and the price aren't enough, the Grandstream comes with Bluetooth, USB, SD, HDMI, and a Plantronics-standard headset port.

VoIP Phone System Microphones for Schools

ClearOne Ceiling Mic Array

Ceiling Microphones would be extremely beneficial for schools for a number of reasons. The first being that they will be out of reach from students, making them less likely to break depending on what age the students are. The second is that they can make the experience of interacting with digital whiteboards more smooth.

This mic offers 360-degree voice coverage, and it also comes with three what ClearOne calls “unidirectional elements” to help reduce reverberations and background noise. These mics are a little pricey at around $589 on Amazon.

 

BeyerDynamic Classics BM 32 B

If you're looking for something much cheaper, this ceiling mic only costs $161.52 on Amazon. And just because you're choosing the cheaper option doesn't mean you're losing out on quality either. You can still get wide coverage, which, in a classroom, should be more than enough.

One thing to keep in mind about VoIP equipment is that it's mostly designed for businesses, which tend to have bigger workspaces. The price is also extremely hard to beat for some schools whose budgets might not be capable of ordering tons of expensive mics. This is a great solution for anyone looking to cut costs without looking to sacrifice quality.

VoIP Intercom Systems for Schools

Grandstream GDS3710 IP Video Door System

This system is no joke, which, yes, is a subtle way of saying it's on the expensive side: $423 on sale on Amazon right now. School shootings are becoming more common and security protocols are getting tighter. You want to be sure your schools are secure.

The Grandstream video door system can be used by security teams to ensure everyone entering/exiting the school is accounted for. The system comes with a built-in RFID chip reader for keyless entry, SIP video streaming options, weatherproof and vandal-resistant metal casing, a built-in hemispheric camera of 180 degrees, microphone, and speaker.

 

Valcom VIP-172AL-Brass

This humble intercom system can also be found on Amazon. It doesn't have the video features like the Grandstream intercom system above, but simplicity is nothing to shrug off.  If there's an active shooter, the police can take advantage of the intercom system by giving detailed instructions to students and instructors.

Features include: SIP DoorPhone w/ Door/Gate Relay, Power over Ethernet (PoE) Compatible, Use with Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, and Most Modern IP Telephone systems, Call button calls any SIP address or any Valcom Gateway, Automatic Talkback VOX Operation (no Push To Talk button needed), Companion to IP CCTV Cameras, SIP or Multicast Communications, and LED Status Indicator.

VoIP Conferencing Equipment for Schools

Teaching isn't just about what goes on in the classroom. There are tons of meetings teachers and administrators have to attend to ensure schools are on the same page with each other. In order to make this experience more personalized, we have some VoIP conferencing equipment for schools that can leave a big impact.

Avaya B189

This conference phone is $450 on Amazon and comes with features schools will find incredibly useful. The B189 has a 5" touch screen that makes it easy for teachers and administrators to operate.

Bigger screens typically mean fewer problems. In the middle of a conference using this phone, it's almost guaranteed that everyone will be heard. Voices can be picked up from a 20-foot radius, and the 96 dBs speaker can be heard clearly from much further away.

 

 

Pyle Desktop Gooseneck Mic

This gooseneck mic is an incredibly cheap option ($32.85 on Amazon), which is great for schools and making sure each voice in the conference is heard. Being so cheap, each participant can be given their own mic as well so there's no need for sharing.

It also includes a base for the microphone along with an LED indicator and an on/off toggle switch, a built-in acoustic pop filter, ultra-wide frequency response, and a high signal output for voice clarity. This mic is also battery operated, providing for even more flexibility, enabling users to move the mic around the room with them.

 

Logitech BCC950

This weird, straight-out-of-star-wars-looking camera is a great option for schools because of its 180-degree field of view, affordable cost (On Amazon at $177.92), HD picture and 30 FPS, and auto-focus feature.

Tons of people judge an experience based on how they view it. If you're in a conference and the screen has a horrible picture, you're focusing on the quality of the experience rather than the issues at hand. Subtle differences in the sound or video quality can make all the difference.

 

The Final Word

Today's VoIP systems offer a wide range of advanced features, a new level of convenience and communications quality, and financial savings for schools. Because VoIP technology does not require any costly hardware (unlike standard telephony), or software installation, or on-site maintenance and monitoring, VoIP has proven to be a significantly more cost-effective option for schools and other institutions than traditional hardline communications systems alternatives.

VoIP technologies are available in comprehensive packages and in very limited plans delivering only minimal basic communications equipment and services, far less time-consuming and intrusive to install. VoIP also affords school employees the flexibility and freedom to use the system for working and communicating from remote locations. And, a cloud-based hosted VoIP system, as opposed to an on-premise system, keeps your institution’s sensitive student and employee data secure.

Traditional phone and other communications equipment and processes that some school systems use for teaching and external communications cannot provide the assurance of connectivity and performance of up-to-date telecom technology. Organizations across all economic sectors have been increasingly moving to VoIP technology, and hosted VoIP has been growing over the past decade. Over more recent years, more academic institutions have been coming online with their telecommunications systems.

To keep up with the expectations and time demands of the digital natives—today's young parents, students, teachers, and school administrators—it is becoming increasingly necessary for schools to bring their operating systems up to date by transitioning to VoIP technology.

 

Disclosure – The GetVoIP team writes about stuff we hope you’ll like and strives to offer the best recommendations we can. Our team has affiliate partnerships, and may collect a referral commission  from your purchase based off our recommendations. This does not influence the content we publish, but only supports our honest efforts to offer you the best and most transparent information. All recommendations are based on our own independent research and hands-on experience. 

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