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RingCentral unveils UCaaS offerings for education

RingCentral plans to launch two UC-as-a-service education products this month. Future UCaaS releases will target other markets, including healthcare and finance.

RingCentral plans to release two UC-as-a-service products with phone, messaging and video services tailored for education.

By the end of the month, the company expects to make Education Essentials available to K-12 schools and Education Standard for colleges. The releases start an initiative to launch UCaaS products for specific vertical markets, such as healthcare, financial services and government.

"This is part of an overall journey ... to deliver to the market holistic and tailored solutions to meet our customers' needs," RingCentral executive Dwight Moore said.

Education represents a significant opportunity for vendors providing hardware, software or online services. Grand View Research expects the global education technology market to increase by nearly 20% annually through 2028 to $378 billion.

Education Essentials offers K-12 schools phone and chat services, but not video. Schools forced to switch to video for online learning during the pandemic found that the medium fell far short of in-person instruction.

The Essentials phone service provides calling between classrooms, dialing local numbers, SMS messaging, call screening and visual voicemail. The messaging feature lets education professionals share classroom materials, calendars and tasks with students, parents and administrators.

Education Essentials starts at $12.99 per user per month.

Education Standard includes video classes along with phone and messaging capabilities. Colleges can host classes with breakout room and whiteboard capabilities for up to 200 participants.

Standard, which costs $19.99 per user per month, integrates with learning management systems from Instructure, Blackboard and D2L that professors use to track student progress.

Image of a RingCentral video meeting
RingCentral tailors its video, messaging and phone services to educational institutions.

Colleges, which also switched to video classes during the pandemic, will likely continue offering some type of video instruction. Last year, a study published by the American Educational Research Association found that replacing some teaching methods with prerecorded video led to small improvements in learning.

The research found more substantial learning benefits when teachers used video to supplement other content. For example, transcripts and prerecorded videos could help students who miss classes.

Beth Schultz, an analyst at Metrigy, said Essentials and Standard have the UCaaS features educators want.

"RingCentral has checked all the important boxes with these offerings," she said. "[They] should be able to get some consideration from educational institutions new to the cloud model or whose UCaaS contracts are up for renewal."

Education Standard will help RingCentral compete against Zoom, the dominant player in college video-based learning, ZK Research founder Zeus Kerravala said.

"Zoom has done a significant amount of work in this space and is the de facto standard platform now," he said. However, there's no clear-cut No. 2 company in the market, and "there is plenty of room for RingCentral to make a dent."

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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