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Universities of the future: The tech transformation in higher education

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Successful technology implementation in classrooms can transform schools as we know them. Modern Ed technology allows higher flexibility and adaptability in learning, increased engagement, higher student support, and more. Such changes are already happening all over the world. 

In 2019, over 60% of schools claimed to rely on technology to aid them in the learning process. This statistic will continue to grow in the next five years. The e-learning market’s value is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025. 

Thus, since 2019, 60% of universities have chosen to continue with remote learning, which is of course impossible without cloud technologies. The cloud computing sector for education is expected to rise by $1.74 billion in the next five years, indicating an increase in e-learning worldwide. 

In 2018, 12% of teachers from over 40 US schools said to have used personalized teaching technology on a regular basis. In a 2021 survey, 41% of AR/VR/XR executives mentioned education as the second largest sector for promoting technologies. Such statistics are only the beginning of the global tech transformation in higher education.

In this article, we will explore today’s challenges in higher education, how technology can help address them, and what transformations are expected in the future of education.

The Challenges of Higher Education in the 21st-Century   

The higher education digital strategy offers a new approach to the 21st-century education system. It can help enhance and advance more traditional learning processes. Today, higher education already faces several serious challenges it struggles to overcome without modern technologies. Here are five of such challenges.

Restriction of location and time on higher education

Traditional learning comes with restrictions in location and time. Thus, in-person education is bound to specific locations and certain hours. Of course, such limitations can be inconvenient to many students. In addition, the global pandemic has shown the need for a backup plan for face-to-face learning. 

Digital learning technologies, on the other hand, bring flexibility to the study process. Thus, students often prefer studying remotely or via learning apps

Managing security risks

Security risks represent a massive challenge to modern schools. A simple technical glitch can cost an institution years of data. A cyber attack can put students and teachers at real-life risks. Besides, failing to protect students’ personal information in cyberattacks will also put a strain on the school’s reputation. 

Finding funds for an in-house IT staff is yet another challenge for small budget schools. Additionally, many teachers lack basic training in managing modern technologies. These factors increase the chances of human errors in security breaches. 

So, it’s understandable why many institutions aren’t willing to put up with the security risks presented by modern technology. 

Inability to deliver in-person labs remotely

Schools still struggle to fully switch to remote learning. Sure, some aspects of remote learning, like lecture delivery, are easy to arrange. However, it gets harder when a course requires practical lessons. Thus, delivering a lab session remotely can turn into a challenge. 

Organizing lab experiments without modern technology is close to impossible. Not all students can have access to required equipment and supplies. Yet, depriving high schoolers of lab work experiences is not the answer. An inability to deliver in-person labs remotely can affect students’ progress in physical and natural sciences.

Poor network infrastructure

The lack of strong network infrastructure is another obstacle between schools and the future of education. A proper network should provide students and teachers with 24/7 access to digital resources and study materials. It can help track students’ progress, build courses, store class materials, etc. Thus, it serves as a management system that connects teachers and learners online. 

It is also a place to keep students’ data and personal information. Hence, privacy, security, as well as fast WiFi are the essentials for creating a school’s network infrastructure. 

Resistance to Change

Lastly, such conservative, big institutions as academia are notoriously slow to change. Sure, implementing new concepts and technologies in traditional school programs can be challenging. Older generations of educators may struggle with understanding and accepting new technology.

Yet, the goal of education should be adjusting “old” concepts to modern needs. Schools need to prepare their students for the future. Right now, it’s impossible to achieve without introducing children to technologies from a young age. 

How technology is shaping learning in higher education 

Digital transformation in higher education changes how we perceive the learning process. Modern technologies have the power to remodel the entire education system as we know it. Here are five examples of how enabling digital transformation can do so. 

Artificial Intelligence augments the role of a teacher

The opponents of AI in education claim that such technology may replace teachers in their roles as educators. In reality, though, such technology can only enhance teachers’ importance in a classroom. 

Thus, educators can now focus on essential tasks while leaving most repetitive, secondary learning processes and analytics to AI. The role of AI in education will be in tailoring study programs, monitoring progress, and creating a productive study environment. Meanwhile, teachers can pay better attention to each student and their needs.   

Adaptive learning technology personalizes the learning process 

Personalization of a learning process requires special tools and skills often unavailable without technology. A standardized method of studying doesn’t allow students to utilize their full potential. Adaptive learning technology, on the other hand, can recognize each student’s needs. 

This technology can monitor everyone’s progress, pace, study preferences, etc. Using this information, teachers can distribute personalized tasks. Teachers now rely on technology to monitor students’ progress, success, and struggles. According to these analyses, teachers can increase students’ autonomy in classrooms, depending on the success of personalized learning. 

Thus, this technology will help create a productive personal learning environment. In such classrooms, students feel empowered to make personal decisions regarding their learning and follow individual study programs.  

Multimedia enhances the process of learning

Multimedia remains an untraditional method of learning today. Yet, educators started using TVs and video in school programs back in the 1960s. It has been proven again and again that multimedia enhances the learning process.

It creates a more interactive and engaging learning environment. Students pay greater attention to video lessons. They are prone to receive and recollect larger volumes of information.

Cloud technologies enable remote learning

Cloud computing in higher education has become a game-changer. Due to this technology, remote learning is more than a possibility now. It’s the norm. Indeed, the concept of virtual classrooms has changed our perception of schools and the learning process. 

Cloud computing for universities has allowed teachers to deliver lectures remotely. Now, students can study alongside their peers or individually without being physically present in a school. 

Interactive classrooms with Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality for education is there to make lessons fun and engaging. Such technology helps students pay better attention and memorize things easier. Thus, it’s an easy way to receive and process new information. 

Augmented Reality uses various multimedia and sound effects to make a more interactive learning experience. Thus, it enhances the message behind a lesson with a more engaging, digital approach. 

Plus, unlike Virtual Reality technology, AR for education doesn’t require any extra equipment. It can be used on any device. Thus, it’s highly accessible and available for most students. 

Conclusion

Digitalization of an educational system is a work in progress. This field evolves every day. Each year it brings us more opportunities to diversify and modernize our study programs. Even the technology we have today can already address most current challenges in education. 

Of course, we are yet to discover the full potential of such technologies as Augmented Reality or Artificial Intelligence regarding the learning process. Yet, with each day, it becomes crystal clear that the future of education relies heavily on the digital realm. 

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