It’s no secret that technology is changing fast. On the forefront of this technology are universities. Across the globe, universities are searching for new ways to face the latest challenges in Information Technology. From information security to redefining the role of students and technology on campus, colleges have a lot of work to tackle.
Can universities simply ignore the changing faces on IT? In simple terms, no. As data-driven institutions, finding the ways to optimize information and make the most of it is at the core of the role of education. Learning how to educate themselves, students, and faculty about key technology issues is the biggest first step. Beyond that, universities will need to commit to ongoing action to protect themselves against cyber threats and obstacles. Here are the top IT challenges universities face in 2019 and what these institutions can do about them.
Photo via Pexels
1. Information Security
It’s hard to ignore the cybersecurity crisis facing businesses and governments around the country. This isn’t something that just affects big-name businesses. It’s also a threat to students and universities alike. Organization-wide data protection is a must as these threats continue to develop.
Universities are a treasure trove of sensitive information. From student payment data to research, this data isn’t to be risked to a cyber thief. By taking a few key steps to ensure security, universities can better protect their students, faculty, and reputations.
First, universities need to start by understanding their regulatory situation. Under most countries laws, there’s a need to keep sensitive information private. In the United States, for instance, this is known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which protects student education records. This is just one of the legal reasons to make privacy a priority. A breach in security allows cyber attackers access to confidential and sometimes dangerous information.
Once these regulations are understood, they need to be taken seriously from implementing syslog for newbies to better email security. Education also goes a long way to help students and faculty protect their information online. Many students and faculty alike aren’t well versed in safe data practices, and this opens the entire system up to attack. Information security is the biggest challenge facing universities across the globe, and it will require ongoing effort.
2. Handle Increased Applications
The number of applications from first-year students is increasing every year. In 2018, this volume increased by 7% in the United States alone. With these numbers only expected to increase in the next few years, universities are scrambling for new ways to manage their applicant pool. Most universities simply do not have enough admissions staff to handle this influx of applications, and there’s a fear that these schools won’t be able to properly sift through candidates for top talent.
Using a CRM for students is the best way to ensure your university not only is attracting the best candidates but also focusing on the right candidates. This isn’t always easy if you don’t have a comprehensive management solution that’s collaborative, simple, and secure. With an intelligent CRM tool, it’s easy to streamline the application process while improving communication, data collection, and analytics.
Only by using a comprehensive system will these universities be able to keep up with their admission demands. Optimising the conversion process is key in this day and age, and will only become more important in the future. This is one of the many ways colleges are becoming “smarter” institutions both inside and outside of the classroom.
Photo via Pexels
3. Tech-Savvy Learning
Technological advancements also help with learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Adaptive courseware and interactive classroom learning are changing the ways students interact with your universities, classmates, and professors.
However, we haven’t reached the finish line just yet. This is far from a perfect system. While many students benefit from additional technological features, it’s not a perfect solution. There will need to be adjustments made based on student feedback. Hopefully, we’ll see even more room for student-focused customization so universities can better fit students’ needs.
Some examples of this are voice technology and virtual reality. Virtual and voice-focused classroom learning is changing our world as we know it, and it’s already a part of many campus programs. The University of Arizona uses voice technology from Amazon to add another technological element to classrooms.
Similarly, virtual reality is becoming more affordable for use in the classroom and at home. Educators soon should be able to build virtual classrooms, whether that means taking their students into the jungle for an animal science lesson or back through time to study British literature. While this sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, it’s quickly becoming our new reality.
The possibilities are really endless. However, with these changes comes new challenges. How will universities regulate this new technology? How will they monitor its’ success when it comes to student learning? Smart learning is a big change for many students, and it doesn’t always apply itself for every curriculum. Students need to be prepared for changes, and their concerns need to be taken seriously.
Shifting Role of Technology
Ultimately, student-centered technology is transforming. While it’s been common to integrate some online learning, this is becoming more common than ever. It’s easier for students to learn remotely and supplement their own education with online coursework and materials.
With these changes come new challenges, of course, such as those outlined above. From digital security to account for the influx of new students, universities need to kick their initiatives into high gear. While students have to work hard for their top universities, these universities also need to work hard in return.
Is your university prepared for these challenges? What tech tools do you have already, and which are you planning to invest money in within the next few years? There’s change on the horizon, and it’s time to meet it with open arms. Students are more tech-savvy than ever. It only makes sense that their universities would be too.
Join the future of higher education conversation on Twitter @fullfabric.