As we navigate through 2023, the digital landscape keeps evolving, and Information Technology in higher education continues to play a more significant role. As a former University CTO and now the SVP of Sales at RahRah, I witnessed first-hand how IT can help transform the student experience. In this post, I’ll discuss the critical role IT plays in shaping the student experience in 2023 and beyond, providing key insights and data points to help university CIOs and CTOs stay ahead of the curve.
1. Personalized Learning Experiences
For several years, data has consistently shown a positive correlation between personalized learning experiences and improved academic outcomes. A significant 2019 Gallup Poll emphasized the importance of leveraging technology for individualized learning experiences in K-12, even before the pandemic. There is no doubt that these benefits are directly applicable to higher education as well, and students are increasingly demanding it. From 2020 to 2022, there was a 220% increase in student preference for online courses, and there is little indication that this trend will reverse as more aspects of our daily lives transition online and are experienced in a highly personalized manner.
By employing AI-driven tools, universities can deliver customized content, assessments, and feedback tailored to each student’s unique needs and learning styles. Integrating these tools within your institution’s Learning Management System allows for the large-scale delivery of personalized learning experiences.
2. Enhanced Collaboration and Engagement
The shift toward hybrid learning models has made effective collaboration and communication more important than ever. A 2021 McKinsey study found that nearly 70% of respondents utilize classroom interaction technologies such as real-time chatting, polling, and breakout room discussions, a number that remained high before and throughout the pandemic. More than 60% of students agreed that the classroom technologies they’ve utilized since COVID-19 began have improved their learning and grades. And faculty displayed even higher levels of interest in such technology, with double the interest in AR/VR and classroom interactions, for example.
But the essential need and positive outcomes of strategic technological support extends far beyond the classroom. Higher levels of student engagement lead to higher levels of academic and personal success overall. Yet, the percent of students who reported feeling engaged has dropped from 69% in 2020 to 65% in 2022. It’s critical to note that 75% of students reported that technology makes their lives feel more organized, and other responses indicated students are looking to their schools to provide the right technology to support them in and out of the classroom. When asked in an open-ended question what other factors influence student success, some of the responses they named included:
- Mental health resources
- Transportation options
- Access to outdoor space/nature
- Information and support for learning & physical disabilities
- Career and mentorship resources
- Outside academic support and resources
Platforms that provide information, connection, and foster meaningful connections in an accessible and equitable way are essential in promoting a sense of belonging, engagement, and facilitating academic success.
3. Data-Driven Decision Making
Data-driven decision-making has become an essential component of success in higher education. Several of the EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT Issues for 2023 emphasize the importance of leveraging data and analytics to enhance student outcomes and streamline operational efficiency. Adopting platforms that facilitate the collection, analysis, and visualization of data across multiple touchpoints enables decision-makers to gain valuable insights into student performance, engagement, and satisfaction, as well as identify areas for cost optimization and process improvement.
By promoting a data-driven culture, institutions can foster innovation, encourage evidence-based experimentation, and ensure continuous learning and refinement. This approach enables universities to stay agile and responsive to the changing needs of their students and the wider higher education landscape. Ultimately, embracing data-driven decision-making is crucial for long-term institutional sustainability and driving student success.
4. Streamlined IT Infrastructure and Cloud Adoption
The growing dependence on technology has made it imperative for universities to adopt agile and secure IT infrastructure. The previously mentioned EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT Issues for 2023 also highlights several concerns that emphasize the need for robust IT infrastructure and innovative strategies, such as strengthening cybersecurity, enabling institutional innovation, and simplifying IT services. As higher education institutions increasingly migrate to cloud-based solutions, it is essential to have a seamless transition process with exceptional support and service to minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth experience for students, faculty, and staff.
A comprehensive, integrated solution that streamlines IT management and enhances the student experience is critical for universities to thrive in the digital age. By adopting such solutions, institutions can reduce complexities, optimize resource allocation, and improve operational efficiency. A robust IT infrastructure facilitates better data-driven decision-making and allows universities to stay agile and responsive to the evolving needs of their students and the wider higher education landscape.
Wrapping It Up
IT continues to be a driving force behind the student experience and by embracing the power of technology, university CIOs and CTOs can help deliver personalized learning experiences, foster collaboration, make data-driven decisions, and streamline IT infrastructure. As the digital landscape evolves rapidly, staying informed and adapting to change will be essential in shaping the future of higher education and unlocking the full potential of your students.
At RahRah, we believe in empowering institutions with the tools and support necessary to create a seamless, engaging learning environment. Together with our preferred deployment partner, Drivestream, we help universities harness the power of technology to transform the student journey. If you’re ready to explore how our innovative solutions can elevate your institution’s student experience, we invite you to reach out to our team. Let’s work together to shape the future of higher education and ensure the success of every student.