More on our blog in this series of articles by various authors about the Internet, the evolution of its acquisition models and Network On Demand. Today's article is by Neal Tilley
As a business traveler, I have the luxury of being able to hear the opinions of North American schools about technology in education. In a few weeks I will be attending two higher education conferences in the same week, to share the vision I have gained from my travels. Sound tiring? Well, it’s not as tiring as it is EXCITING.
At ACUTA in Baltimore, I will share my views on SIP transformation and unified access with the passionate members there. Then there is the annual EDUCAUSE conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. At this event, thousands of higher education technologists and decision makers will meet to discuss the challenges of colleges and universities concerning the practical use and future role of technology in education.
From my travels, I have observed that information technology in higher education has reached a turning point where the trends that dominated leadership have motivated the first end users and are now mainstream.
Because I explore all areas of the US, visiting schools and universities of various sizes, I am very aware of the impact of technology on the fundamental operations and the success of these institutions. IT has become essential for higher education! Today’s university students are some of the most avid digital natives I have ever seen. So you could say yes, there is technology on a university campus... It is there, and must be there. So what’s new? What is all the fuss about? Universities need more than just bacis technical capabilities. 60% of students said they do not even look at a university if there is not Wi-Fi access everywhere. Even more is needed.
What is the school doing to stay ahead as students, teachers and school staff that expect more every day? What can be done to provide a personalized and connected experience in that institution? It is all about balance. How do we meet the expectations of students and their teachers? How can we continually provide great value for money? Do our innovations keep the students there longer, and help ensure a career for them after graduation? Does IT at least have a significant impact towards that objective?
The best IT education professionals have changed their approach. They now focus less on tactical technical problems and increasingly on strategic business problems that make a difference in the final balance. After all, money makes the world go round.
Can the under-resourced IT departments of these schools have a strategic opinion?The good news, as seen at ACUTA and EDUCAUSE, is that thanks to education technology and advancements in mixed learning, MOOCs and the adoption of digital tools in the classroom offer the opportunity to turn the tide.
There are three areas that higher education IT professionals must take into account. These help demonstrate the strategic value of IT in the evolution of an educational organization.
The use of innovative technology to provide a personalized, connected experience between the students and faculty.A personalized, connected experience means that students and teachers are able to access content and applications easily using their preferred devices, from mobile phones to tablets, anywhere, at any time, and can stay connected to a new generation of smart networks and courses on the cloud.
This is a perfect way for IT to help drive innovation and create value in regards to student attendance and for teachers to educate. A personalized, connected experience may be what distinguishes one's school from any other.
For example: a student arrives on their first day. They scan a QR code and the device immediately connects to the university network, their records are automatically updated, and they receive an app from the university with their personalized schedule, even including information on their residence hall. This allows the student, and even their parents, to focus on those first days of separation, alleviating other concerns.
Making IT a strategy for the success of the university. By driving educational success and financial strength through technology, IT becomes an essential factor in the general operations of a university. Today’s innovation-rich technology provides support that meets the latest expectations of students and teachers.
Technology procured through consumption-based models is a way to balance technological progress and reduce costs. Solutions that can adapt to meet the unique needs of their education environments are those that support IT strategies that lead to student success. An example could be providing a premium product at an affordable price and an even lower total cost of ownership. This strategic change reduces the cost per student and helps keep your school in the running when a high school student is deciding which university to attend. Just ask the California State University! (CSU saves 100 million dollars) Adding new advances in automatic techniques, such as self-healing equipment, SDN deployment tools and interoperability with predominant brands means that a university can save significantly and help achieve lower costs.
Promoting real-time collaboration that leads to successful teaching and learning as well as a better student experience.. IT professionals must consider the evolution in how people communicate in higher education, taking advantage of the current information and communications technology (ICT) environment, thus reducing the total cost while improving the quality of education. ICT can be directly linked to the shared success of student results (better connected) and a reduction in the cost per student (lower TCO). Via a results-based approach, technology helps strengthen a university’s reputation while attracting students and professors in the process, at a time when decreasing enrollment is directly linked to the success of the IT project.
For example, with the use of interaction management tools, a university can focus on every dollar of tuition, without affecting the quality of the educational experience. This results in a better student experience and improvement of the university’s brand reputation.
One thing is clear: as we prepare for our demos at EDUCAUSE, the turning point is good news for all ICT people in higher education. Together with education technicians, CIOs can open a path in the next generation of education environment, and not only to attract new students, but also to ensure it makes business sense!
See you there!!
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