Higher educational institutions are largely steeped in history and tradition. Those are important matters for students who are entering the stage of life when they’re preparing for their lifelong careers. Colleges and universities are grappling with how to hang onto their heritage while embracing technology and other societal and economic changes that are continually evolving around them. Technology has touched every industry in one way or another.
Knowledge about automation and artificial intelligence is currently leading the way in transforming many industries. These technologies are paving the way for new business opportunities, sales and marketing efforts. Corporations, including colleges and universities, that lag behind rapidly advancing technologies could quickly lose their competitive edge.
Holding onto history and tradition provide some reasoning about why colleges and universities are sometimes slower to utilize technological advances than other industries. College boards of trustees need to spend as much time on planning and oversight as possible and technology has provided board portals to help them perform their duties more efficiently. Their job has never been more important, as boards debate the effect of such issues as online learning, vocational training, new career fields, changing student populations and the demand for customized curricula.
What Is the Right Technology to Support Colleges and Universities?
Historically, the needs of society have dictated college offerings. Those needs have changed at various points in time, and they’re changing again as technology has taken the world by storm.
Subhash Kak, Regents Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University, says, “As a professor who researches artificial intelligence and offers distance learning courses, I can say that online education is a disruptive challenge for which colleges are ill-prepared.”
Before the technology boom, people in society largely sought out information about how to do things in schools and in libraries. In today’s world, technological devices and processes typically take care of how to do things. What society needs is to know what to do with the information that technology produces. Professor Kak provides the example of a car repair. A car mechanic uses technology to diagnose the problem. What mechanics really need to know is which part to replace and where it is in the car.
Technology has created an openness among higher education professionals about the value of alternative forms of education. Many colleges and universities were critical of online learning for some time. Now, however, more schools are starting to offer online classes or online degrees, as they’ve found ways to offer quality education outside of brick-and-mortar establishments. Online learning benefits colleges in many ways because of the cost-savings and the convenience it offers.
Higher education feeds new career fields and prepares new workers to fill job needs in communities. New technologies, such as automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, are eliminating jobs that require routine skills. As certain types of jobs become outdated, society has less need for administrative and manufacturing skills and more need for service skills to maintain the technology that’s replacing administrative and manufacturing jobs.
This change is signaling the need for college boards to re-orient their curricula more toward vocational training and less toward traditional degree programs.
Savvy students are looking at education differently than ever before. There’s a new trend toward taking a variety of courses from a variety of sources to build the skillset that they need for their desired career. The focus on lowering the impact of student debt is driving some of that thought process. This is a new issue for boards because it also lowers university revenues.
Employers are also taking new approaches to acquiring the needed set of job skills. Large corporations are getting weary of waiting for colleges to get up to speed on bringing them needed talent. Some of them are developing their own courses to train workers in the skills the company needs.
Boards will need to consider other relevant ways they can make use of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in marketing, admissions and funding.
Seven Technology Trends for Colleges and Universities
Boards of trustees need to keep in mind that each new school year brings a few new technologies, as well as enhancements and expansions in existing technologies. They may be considering how to utilize a certain technology in a specific way and be looking at the same technology in a whole new light in a year or two. Here are seven technologies for trustees to put on their agendas:
- Data-Driven Institutions
- Immersive Learning
- Digital Course Materials and Assignments
- Enterprise-Wide Video
- Mobile Technology and the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Role of IT
- Learning Space Design
What Is the Right Technology for College and University Boards?
In addition to looking at various technologies that improve the way that colleges offer education, boards of trustees need to be looking at technology that assists them in doing their duties. Board portal software streamlines many of the routine duties, which can free large amounts of time for trustees to perform the more time-consuming work of strategic planning and oversight. Board portals will also assist board trustees as they contend with the increased responsibilities resulting from new regulations and governance issues.
Boards of trustees need to continually evaluate their academic rates and structures. Cloud-based storage offers the most secure system for storing reports on graduation rates, job readiness, learning objectives and other student issues. Having easy access to an abundance of reports is vital for college boards. Cloud-based storage also provides storage for information on course offerings, so they can offer the most cutting-edge fields to attract the highest-quality students, which will also increase their enrollment. Board trustees often live in geographically diverse areas. Board portals offer them the ability to communicate securely across the miles and across time zones. Remote communication also makes it easier for private colleges to collaborate remotely on fundraising efforts for their alma maters.
Security is a big issue for college and university boards. Board portal software keeps sensitive information confidential, whether it pertains to matters they discuss in executive session or to protecting students’ personal and financial information.
Boards also need to address societal issues on campus, like student activism, scandals or political issues. Parents and students will be looking at how boards handle issues around crises before making their final choices. College boards need to proactively manage the school’s reputation. Trustees can use board portals to help create good policies and be well prepared if a crisis should occur.
BoardEffect offers all the tools and processes necessary to support good governance for boards of trustees. Streamlining board processes will assist them greatly in dealing with all of the changes and challenges that technology brings that directly affect college operations and students.