Thursday, May 07, 2009

Communications Technologies and Universities : No More Office Phones?

Here's an amusing article tying together budget cuts at universities and new technologies; the communications department at UW is cutting costs by getting rid of phones. Students who want to meet professors will have to e-mail them or find them.

I admit I would be loathe to give up my office phone. If only to save my fingers from potential RSI (I haven't been cursed yet), I think using a phone instead of e-mail is a good idea in many situations. And there's no way I'd give students (or even many staff people) my cell phone number. On the other hand, I must admit my office phone is not a highly used device, and students in particular almost never reach me by phone. Indeed, these days a number of the calls on the office phone are solicitors -- this has only really started happening in the past year or two, and I wonder if Harvard's phones were somehow off the grid of phone solicitors way back when or if there's been some other change. So while there's irony in a communications department getting rid of phones, I can see where the cost-benefit analysis might suggest it's the right thing to do.


Anonymous said...

My top-20 CS department recently got rid of office phones for grad students.

Jeremy said...

This seems like the type of situation where a Google Voice/Grand Central setup would come in handy.

However, the branching in Google Voice is in the wrong direction. Instead of having one number ring through to multiple phones, we need multiple numbers that ring through to the same phone.

You could then give students/coworkers a work number and filter it to only ring during M-F,9-5 and go straight to voicemail otherwise.

Anonymous said...

VoIP? Skype?