In this age of unprecedented high speed digital transformation, universities are expected to keep up with the technology expectations of their learners. With the proliferation of smart devices and internet access, today's students are more tech-savvy than ever before. They want their universities to provide them with the latest technology tools and platforms to enhance their learning experience. These demands cause enormous opportunities, challenges, and costs for higher education – a world where institutional culture can make it hard to be agile enough to keep up. In this blog, we will examine the current challenges, and provide examples of solutions to the technology expectations that the higher education sector must meet.
Recent studies of the higher education landscape reflect unprecedented challenges – many brought on by technology demands. The consequences of not being agile or innovating quickly enough can be deadly for universities: A growing number are shutting their doors permanently or consolidating. Pressure to lower tuition, stagnating state funding and a shrinking pool of high school graduates has strained many institutions’ bottom lines and questioned their long-term viability. For many still in operation, the demand for online and distance education skyrocketed over the past few years, starting with sudden demand for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Colleges are challenged to serve this growing student population.
Combine these issues with the increasing expectation that learning be flexible, online and even on demand, and it is no wonder that the historically slow, traditional culture of higher education is being pushed into a time of deep reflection, recalibration and perhaps even a modern renaissance.
Colleges that are heavily invested in their technology infrastructure are the ones seeing the greatest return: For example, Saint Leo University in Florida recently installed a new state-of-the-art fiber distribution system, providing multi-gigabit internet speeds and HD crystal clear programming to more than 2,200 students, as well as faculty and staff, on the main campus. The effort to modernize the 130-year-old school has empowered Saint Leo to support explosive growth of data use and meet the bandwidth demands of a quickly growing student population (the university welcomed its largest freshman class in history).
The technology infrastructure that universities today need to support is considerable: Upgrading Wi-Fi networks, increasing bandwidth, and providing high-speed internet access to students are critical pieces of this framework. This enables students to access online resources and collaborate with their peers seamlessly. Universities are also providing students with access to cutting-edge technology tools such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to enhance their learning experience. For instance, some universities have introduced virtual laboratories in favor of simulated labs, allowing students to conduct experiments – or practice what they’ve learned - in a simulated environment.
Learning management systems
Gone are the days when a textbook, syllabus and lecture series could deliver an advanced education. Today, universities are adopting learning management systems (LMS) to facilitate online learning. LMS platforms such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle allow students to access course materials, assignments, and other resources online. They can also communicate with instructors and classmates, submit assignments, and receive feedback. LMS platforms are user-friendly and provide a convenient way for students to manage coursework. Moreover, universities are providing mobile versions of these platforms, enabling students to access them on-the-go using their smartphones and tablets.
Universities are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage with students. They use social media to promote events, share news and updates, and communicate with students. Social media is an effective tool for universities to create a sense of community and foster engagement. Moreover, universities are using social media analytics to track engagement and measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns. Social media is a critical piece to connecting with, engaging with, and communicating to students, prospective students, faculty and staff, alumni and employers.
Digital libraries and online databases
Remember when the busiest place on campus during the week of finals was the library? While those buildings are still critical to campus life, digital libraries provide students with access to thousands of books, journals, and research papers from anywhere, anytime. Online databases such as JSTOR and ProQuest allow students to search for academic articles and research papers on specific topics. This enables students to conduct research and access information easily and quickly.
Online courses and degrees
The global pandemic drastically increased the move to online learning across the world. To meet the needs of learners, academic institutions must provide courses with the flexibility to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. Moreover, online and distance education courses allow universities to reach a wider audience and provide access to education for those who are unable to attend traditional classes. Online degrees are becoming increasingly popular among students as they provide a convenient and affordable way to obtain a degree.
ACI Learning and you. Better together.
Partnering with a content provider such as ACI Learning is a powerful, effective, and efficient way for academic institutions to meet the technological expectations of today’s learners.
You’re busy supporting learners’ dreams with training and curriculum that meets the high standards of your institution, yet also accommodates the expectations of modern learners.
What you already provide is good enough – but when it comes to the rapidly changing world of technology, don’t you want to know your curriculum will always be relevant and current? We know your pain points, and we offer the right solutions.
Eight challenges ACI Learning can answer for you
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