Distance learning offers new educational opportunities to a wide array of users, allowing most anyone to sit in on a class and even cut some of the expense out of a college education. Ranger College—a community college located in rural Texas—recently added to its own lineup of distance learning options by bringing in ADTRAN (News - Alert)'s ProCloud Plus system to better allow educators to offer up a learning environment users can get behind regardless of physical location.
With ADTRAN's ProCloud Plus, Ranger College can take advantage of the growing popularity of connected devices and put both its Wi-Fi and local area network (LAN) services in ADTRAN's hands. This allows Ranger College to focus on bringing out new applications for digital learning, and more digital services, since the backbone of said services is already taken care of.
Ranger College could also take advantage of several other services from ADTRAN, including its help desk options for both staff and students, site surveys and installation, alert monitoring, and even complete system management tools as well. As a result, reports note that service calls are down almost to the point of nonexistence, with better than 90 percent of service calls now not happening at all.
Michael Beran, who serves as Ranger College's IT director, pointed out that, prior to bringing in ProCloud Plus, Ranger College was suffering from a fairly common IT malady: a lot of different access points that weren't very similar and spent a lot of time being down for one reason or another. With ProCloud Plus, meanwhile, the system offered a complete backbone and a managed service, thus taking a lot of the problem out of the system altogether.
There once was a time when distance learning was a series of VHS tapes on which professors recorded lectures. Said tapes were doled out to students over the course of several weeks and students viewed said tapes, essentially getting the same view as if they were inside a classroom without having a physical presence. As the use of the Internet grew, and technology caught up accordingly, the options available to users has likewise spiked. That's prompted clear demand for new ways to learn, and new ways to take as much of the expense of higher education out of the system. Some institutions have responded, like Ranger College, and this poses a direct threat to those who have yet to respond. The threat is that, one day, those who haven't kept up will be phased out for the lower-cost options posed by the more connected distance learning options.
Naturally, that's still some time off, so we may have a while to wait before the fullest effects of this sea change take hold. Yet history suggests that those who don't adapt to the changes are doomed to be run over by same: just ask anyone who used to make buggy whips.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi