5 Top Tech Trends in Higher Education

3 min read

September 26, 2023

Higher education is entering a new era. Colleges and universities have been forced to reevaluate their traditional approaches to learning and rapidly adopt new technology to meet students’ evolving expectations.

While the pandemic acted as a catalyst, propelling institutions into online learning and collaboration almost overnight, digital transformation is an ongoing process with room for improvement. Sixty-eight percent of higher education leaders said there’s a growing gap between where their institution is and where it needs to be to compete.

For learning institutions to remain resilient in the face of future challenges and attract top-talent students and faculty, they need to embrace new technology like AI and remote communications – not just as a reaction to a crisis but as a philosophy for long-term growth.

As students return to campus (in-person or otherwise), several trends are emerging for higher education. We’re seeing academic institutions around the world:

1. Engage Students with Flexible Learning Ecosystems

Today’s students are especially critical regarding the value of their education, and they want the university experience on their terms. Integrating online learning and collaboration tools is imperative to the new learning ecosystem, allowing students to tailor their education to their needs.

The modern campus is neither fully remote nor entirely in-person. Institutions are integrating technology to create spaces for both physical and virtual participation. This blended teaching method makes education more accessible.

One technology for enhancing flexibility is adopting a unified communications and collaboration (UCC) platform to encapsulate the student experience. From working together on group projects to remote drop-in hours, communicating, accessing faculty expertise or research, or even receiving essential campus updates, UCC tools put personalized education into students’ hands.

2. Make Investments in Innovative EdTech

Even as operational costs rise around the globe, many institutions are facing limited budgets and reduced funding. Despite this, investing in new educational technology (EdTech) isn’t just an option – it’s a necessity for digital transformation.

Cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning aren’t just buzzwords. They could become integral to the new learning experience and process to attract new students. For example, analysis could help identify if there are students from specific schools or geographical areas that are more likely to apply, enabling better targeting of prospective students.

These technologies can be applied to all aspects of higher education, not just the student learning experience. Administration, facilities, and business operations can all be enhanced by innovation in the EdTech space.

3. Increase Institutional Resilience through Infrastructure Upgrades

The pandemic highlighted the need for higher learning institutions to develop comprehensive plans for operational continuity. Whether recovering from an unforeseen disaster or simply managing everyday functions, universities must react with agility to new challenges.

Even in an ordinary education year, demands and needs ebb and flow with student applications, intake, registration, results days, and other events. Communications systems need to accommodate peak volumes during these times without becoming a drain on resources when demand is lower.

Whether in the cloud or on-premise, modern UCC solutions build resilience into the communications infrastructure, giving universities scalable, location-flexible solutions that can be deployed when and where they’re needed. Regular updates and top security protocols reduce interruptions to the student experience while making IT practices more sustainable.

4. Empower Faculty and Staff with Automation and Collaboration

The success of learning institutions doesn’t rest solely with students but also relies on dedicated faculty and staff. Talent retention continues to be a challenge for many universities, with 57.2% of higher education employees reporting that they’re somewhat likely, likely, or very likely to look for other opportunities within the next 12 months.

Educational institutions must offer flexible scheduling, an improved work-life balance, and advancement opportunities to attract skilled individuals who will contribute to long-term growth. A smooth onboarding process helps to convince new hires they’re in the right place, and a unified collaboration platform allows them to join their new colleagues seamlessly.

Once settled in their jobs, staff can use UCC tools for routine tasks. AI can sort through applications so admissions officers can focus on making essential acceptance decisions. Virtual assistants can even walk students through the basic steps of registering for classes or signing up for financial aid, taking care of simple questions, and passing more complex cases on to employees.

As universities compete to attract and retain talented faculty and staff, communications play a vital role in creating an environment where educators can excel – and so can their students.

5. Connect the Campus with Widescale Communications

University administrators need to be prepared for a crisis before it even happens, so implementing a mass notification system makes sense to keep the entire university or college connected and on the same page.

Widescale communications enable campus responders to reach students, faculty, and staff on their preferred devices so they don’t miss critical updates. Location-specific alerts can be sent to staff and students in an affected area, with reports showing delivery confirmation to monitor effectiveness.

Higher education officials use mass notifications daily to keep campus life humming. From text reminders to check in on the first day to emails about picking up caps and gowns for graduation, UCC systems keep students engaged without putting their phones down.

Higher education has changed significantly over the past few years, requiring administrators to reconsider long-standing tactics and embrace flexibility and resilience. These top trends show universities can engage their students and staff at all levels by leaning into digital transformation and investing in EdTech.

Contact one of our experts to learn how Mitel’s unified communications and collaboration solutions can keep your campus connected and ready for the future.

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