Preparing Your University for the Digital Revolution

Over the past decade, WiFi and the Internet of Things (IoT) have slowly transformed forward-thinking colleges and universities into digital testing grounds that not only benefit the students and faculty, but also their surrounding communities. The impact of digital transformation has helped contemporary campuses to enhance student learning while optimizing operational efficiencies and improving agility in times of unprecedented circumstances.

In fact, the common term now used for many digitized universities is smart campus which is usually threaded with dependable wired and wireless connectivity throughout the entire campus to create a connected environment both inside and out.

According to Gartner, a smart campus is defined as “…a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Multiple elements, including people, processes, services and things, come together to create a more immersive, interactive, and automated experience for students, staff, faculty and stakeholders of a university or college.”

Similar to smart cities, smart campuses are places where Internet-connected devices and applications can create new services and experiences for their end users. On the security side, smart technologies can also keep students, faculty, and visitors safer with capabilities such as remote-controlled door locks, cameras, lighting, alarms, and more. Students can even use smart technologies designed to instantly alert campus police if they don’t reach their intended destination. So then, how can you prepare your university for the digital revolution? Keep reading to learn more.

The digital university of the future

Today, digital transformation has become a priority for many colleges and universities who desire to become the digital universities of the future. In fact, much of the model is online. In addition, universities must have the ability to ensure courses and career tracks remain appealing and effective to the evolving demands of their current and future student bodies.

Students want more intuitive and interactive experiences to which they can permanently connect through any device with an Internet connection. As a result, institutions must remain apprised of various smart technologies that can facilitate these types of interactions. Further, remote learning will play a huge role in education moving forward. A study by Global Information, Inc., discovered that the e-Learning market was one of the largest in terms of growth in 2019, and that trajectory will not change anytime soon.

It’s crucial to implement an interconnected ecosystem that focuses on results. To ensure the right outcomes are achieved requires a data-driven understanding of what students want either through surveys or focus groups and then utilizing design thinking to infuse the framework with the university’s strategic objectives. In the end, the entire campus community should be connected with these significant attributes:

  • User-friendly and intuitive: Students want technology to feel effortless. Attention should be paid to the user experience.
  • Consider where interactions take place: School platforms should be available via multiple interfaces, on any Internet-connected device, and include video, voice, touch, and gesture. Plus, the interactions should be personalized.
  • Flexibility: Student demands, and the world, will constantly evolve. So then, campuses must deploy a microservices-based design architecture that is reusable and self-contained to enable agility and scalability. With this type of architecture, a smart campus can also evolve and scale locally or even globally whether students are on campus or attending classes remotely.

How smart campuses improve the overall experience

Smart technologies should be implemented with the end goal being student satisfaction. There are many scenarios with smart campuses designed exactly with students in mind. For instance, smart dorm technologies can manage thermostats, lighting, and even alert students when their laundry is ready for pickup. Over at Colorado State University, sensors were installed in parking spaces so students simply have to use an app to find an open spot. 

Moreover, smart stadiums are rapidly becoming the norm with apps that can tell attendees which bathrooms have the shortest lines or fans can even order concessions online then head to the counters and grab their snacks when ready. Here are other ways the digital revolution – via smart technologies – can benefit universities:

  • Offers contextual data on user location and behaviors
  • Provides a community-like environment even when interacting remotely
  • Gives students an efficient path towards educational and career success
  • Bolsters operational efficiency for faculty and staff
  • Has the ability to evolve over time to meet the needs of the future

We still have to address one of the biggest challenges in terms of preparing your university for the digital revolution. The biggest challenge boils down to vision. It can be difficult for universities to predict where the future will be in five years and then decide what they need to do in the present to get there. In this case, the right technology partner can be a valuable resource for motivated colleges and universities ready to take on the future – right now.

Raise the bar

Smart technologies are quickly moving forward in terms of capabilities and scale. Is your university ready for the next millennium?


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