Higher education has always had a magnifying glass held against it as these institutions are expected to provide a well-educated and cultured workforce in our society. That being said, universities are also expected to be at the forefront in leading technology accomplishments. With that in mind, we will take a look at how current tech trends will be applied in the higher ed sector.
4 Tech Trends in Higher Ed
In 1983, Issac Asimov wrote an article on what the future will hold. When asked about education he stated, “schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good school teacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.” It is almost jarring how accurate his prediction was, but let’s take a deeper dive into the top 4 tech trends shaping the higher ed sector:
1. Data-driven decisions
Universities have a lot of data and it wasn’t until recently that they were empowered to make use of the data that they have access to. With access to this data and machine learning, higher ed institutions can make better data-driven decisions. This information can be used in many ways including promoting the institution, benchmarking student’s performance, identifying areas for curriculum improvement, and more.
Another way that higher education institutions have been able to extract real-world value from their data is through workflow automation software. By using workflow software, data entered into the system is automatically filtered and stored. That way, staff have secure, immediate access to all information in one convenient location. This also makes it easier for reporting tools to use information collected through process software to generate reports quickly. As a result, processes like student admissions, payroll and tuition can be optimized to deliver cost and time savings for the entire institution.
2. The ever-growing security threat
Higher ed institutions have a lot of PII and sensitive data on their enrolled students and their parents. They also have to meet FERPA student data privacy and security requirements. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
In a recent survey by Netwrix found that 77 percent of education institutions are unprepared for IT risks. To even more complicate things, most of IT in higher ed is decentralized, meaning that each college within the institution has its own policies, procedures, and security tools. Most institutions are turning to the cloud to manage this sensitive data. According to AWS: “covered entities subject to FERPA are turning to cloud computing as a highly efficient way to manage and secure vast amounts of education records and student data. Security is a core functional requirement of FERPA, requiring that mission-critical information be protected from accidental or deliberate theft, leakage, integrity compromise, and deletion. AWS offers a complete set of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application and deployment services that enable education entities to deploy applications and services cost-effectively and with flexibility, scalability, and reliability.”
3. Active learning
K-12 schools have used active learning to transform their course curricula and higher ed institutions are soon following suit. Active learning is a form of learning that strives to involve students in the learning process rather than just passively listening. This method of learning creates a more collaborative environment usually not found in traditional lectures. Yale University created an active learning environment by including 14 round tables that can accommodate 126 students, 14 flat-screen displays, 5 projection screens, and 8 whiteboards, from this they saw, “Early quasi-experimental research revealed that teaching in an ALC can improve student attitudes, conceptual understanding, and passing rates, especially for female and minority students.“
The web is a great place for information, yet most websites do not meet accessibility guidelines for those with vision impairment, including universities. In order to create a real sense of inclusion higher ed institutions also need to realize that inclusion also starts online. For example, a blind man sued 50 universities for violating ADA compliance with websites.
Peter Blanck, University Professor of Law at Syracuse University stated, It’s beside the point whether there are 50 or 1,000 lawsuits,” said Blanck. “These cases are reflective of a larger systemic problem — that there is a lack of a strong commitment by many institutions to try to be as inclusive as possible.”
What’s next in tech in higher ed?
2019 will be the first year that Gen Z, the generation that grew up always digitally connected, will be attending higher ed institutions. Their level of connectivity will play a role in what they expect in the classroom. Their need for authentic learning experiences, immersive learning, and technology-driven mediated instruction will shape what technology trends we’ll see in universities.
Part of accommodating these trends in higher ed is making all of these new learning tools accessible to everyone from one location. This is what workflow software excels at in particular. By connecting all software tools to workflow software, both students and staff are able to access multiple resources, like grades and applications from one central hub. As a result, no one is left behind when searching for their latest assignments, and instructors are saved the headache caused by basic administration and can focus on providing better education.