Learning technology plays an important role in helping students navigate through their university or college experience successfully. Whether in the form of an e-book with practical modules, an engaging video lecture from an expert living across the country, or a portal with information to help students find what they need on campus, the opportunities for technological innovation in the educational sphere appear to be endless. However, when it comes to student portals, it appears that many colleges and universities have yet to replace outdated platforms with more current solutions.
It goes without saying that choosing the right kind of portal infrastructure takes plenty of research. In the interest of giving you an idea where the educational learning industry is at in 2018, here are three particularly exciting ways in which newer forms of learning technology are changing higher education for the better:
Harnessing Big Data to Make Even Bigger Changes
Learning technology has an incredible emancipatory effect. Consider the Times Higher Education story about Georgia State University as an example. It began with Mark Becker, the incoming President in 2009, who decided to re-brand the university to “become a national model for undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates.” And what was his tool in this emancipatory project? Big data and predictive analytics.
Becker and his team went about collecting data about all the students at the university – not just the high performing ones who succeed without much impediment. The IT department found that lower income students were often taking non-credit classes by mistake, thus lengthening their university stay and forcing them to drop. Having made this discovery, the university went on to install software throughout the school that now tracks the decisions of all 30,000 undergraduates. The intuitive software tracks risk factors that may lead to dropping out, and warns the student of this potential before it becomes acute. The software has proven to be a great success, and points to the remarkable impact technology can have upon a student’s educational trajectory.
Digital Courses, Virtual Assignments
YouTube has become such a popular hub for educational videos during the past couple of years. Is this really surprising? No, because people have always wanted first-hand access to educational resources on a variety of topics.
Universities are taking a cue from the popularity of YouTube and offering more, and better, digital courses to their students. While some of the bigger schools (like Harvard) offer incredible free resources for educational videos and courses, other schools have sprung up that are purely digital. This is another emancipatory effect of technology on education. Everyone is now able to share in the wealth of knowledge previously held hostage in the cloistered halls of academia. What it means for existing college and university campuses is quite simple: innovate in the digital space, or be left behind.
Mobile Application is Already Here
All the data from Google and other search analytics companies indicate that mobile phone usage has outstripped desktop usage. What does that mean for students on campus? It means students want the ability to look up where their next course is from their phone as they walk over to get a coffee in the cafeteria. It means they want the convenience of doing homework on their phone as they walk to work.
Mobile application has already happened in some schools, but many schools have yet to invest in the software. In offering a mobile-optimized user experience, the main challenges for an IT department are as follows:
Scale. One of the big problems with scalability is ensuring that faculty, students, and administration have the same level of user experience. This includes financial integration, scheduling integration, enterprise planning integration, and so much more. However, with cloud technology backing all of the leading technology software products today, the means of scalability have finally met the demands of the job.
Layout. An interactive layout that models popular sites that students use regularly is going to win the day in the long run. Students need to be able to interact with a software that understands their unique demands, and can offer equally unique solutions. In order to captivate students in 2018, the layout of the portal should mirror a web page as much as possible. A ‘common problem’ area listed on the home page is a good start, while a search bar listed on the homepage is another important feature to improve usability.
Higher education is no longer isolated from the rest of the world. Technology has helped to democratize the university experience for everyone – regardless of actual physical location. Universities know they need to adapt with the times or be left with a dwindling student body. Education was one of the first sectors to adopt predictive analytics, and the emancipatory impact has been immense!