Five Trends in Higher Ed Digital Transformation (Contributed)

The flood of technology into colleges and universities is having a major impact on teaching, learning and administration. Here’s what you need to know to stay competitive and effective in academics.

by / June 14, 2019
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Digital transformation has come to higher education. From branded mobile apps to higher education data analytics software, institutions all over the world are utilizing digital avenues to make life easier for students, instructors and administrators. Here are five specific ways higher ed uses digital transformation: 

1. In the Classroom

Instructors use interactive whiteboards and display systems to make the comprehension process easier for their students. Whatever a professor writes on the interactive board can be transferred into a digital copy that can then be distributed to students. With Internet access, these displays can also enable the instructor to offer quick access to supportive resources, such as statistics, maps and images. 

Some campuses also use mobile applications that make it easy for students to scan images or even text from any document onto their smartphones. Information found at the library, in the classroom or from classmates can be collected and stored in a matter of seconds, helping the “always-on-the-go” student spend less time searching for information and more time learning. Taking the digital route here can also reduce paper waste and help campuses work toward more “green” initiatives. 

2. Payment Options

Students today are using mobile apps to conduct most of their banking transactions, from Venmo and PayPal to Bank of America and Mint. Shouldn’t the same convenience be offered by their school? Taking the payment process online is a great way for schools to reduce the use of paper checks, offer a secure, convenient experience for students and gather data that can be used to make campuswide decisions. This can even go beyond just tuition payments. Digital transformation can make a “cashless campus” possible, giving students the ability to use a mobile app or even their student ID card to pay for items at the campus bookstore or in the student union. This could reduce the need for cash registers and streamline the purchase process. 

3. Mobile 

Campuses nationwide are creating mobile applications to aggregate important school-related and student-related resources. A university- or college-branded mobile app can be a go-to resource for campus maps, phone numbers and event updates. Some schools are connecting student meal plan balances to their mobile apps, integrating class discussion boards and sharing time-sensitive news updates. There’s really no limit to what colleges can offer from a mobile app.

4. Online Courses

Probably one of the most popular forms of digital transformation at institutions across the country right now is online learning. It’s become an absolute necessity that colleges and universities offer some level of credits online, whether it be just a few classes or an entire program. Online courses give students a level of flexibility that on-campus classes just can’t match. Full-time workers, those with families or students with other responsibilities can balance their busy lives while furthering their education, which can create incredible opportunities as long as their chosen degree program is offered online. 

5. Data Analytics

When higher ed goes digital it opens the door to new opportunities in the form of data analytics that can improve decision-making. Take online payments as an example. If a substantial number of students are paying past the deadline, analytics can help assess the reason why. It might show that financial aid checks are being distributed later than usual. Once the problem has been identified, administrators can work toward a solution that helps students pay on time so that the institution doesn’t have to deal with late payments. 

Using higher education data analytics software is the easiest and most efficient way to migrate toward a data-driven culture. Information related to students, campus, instructors and anything else deemed important can be collected, accessed and stored in one environment. A software platform will make data visually appealing so that it’s easy to identify patterns and understand the institution’s overall performance. 

Are online course enrollments for English 101 increasing while on-campus enrollments are decreasing? Maybe it’s time to add more online sections to satisfy student demand. A data analytics platform will be able to help administrators determine all this and more. 

More options are available to colleges and universities that are ready and willing to adapt to the digital landscape. This migration toward digital resources is more important than ever before, considering the increasing competition institutions are facing. To stay competitive, it’s important for institutions to prioritize two things: making the lives of students easier; and using data to continually identify areas of inefficiency and opportunities for improvement. 

Eric Spear

Eric Spear is the Found and President of Precision Campus, a data analytics software program designed exclusively for higher education. Eric has more than 20 years of data warehouse development experience, including his work as a senior developer for the University of Maryland, performing all related duties including database management, user requirements, gathering, coding, training, and data administration.

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