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Six Tech Trends to Consider in Higher Ed

Over the last 10 years, the technology available to educational institutions has developed dramatically, presenting new opportunities for them to change the way they teach, assess and credit skills. However, higher education institutions that struggle to keep up with these developments may see students looking elsewhere for their qualifications. Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and digital credentials in the classroom (and beyond) have changed the way students learn, but what’s next for the world of ed tech, and how can your institution adapt to the changes?

Here are six tech trends that have the power to transform higher education:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) - VR/AR has the power to bring the world to the classroom, without the financial barriers that come with travel and cultural integration. Imagine being able to immerse your students in a landscape or culture that was once only available in a textbook, without having to leave the classroom. Or even have the classroom come to you. It’s possible with VR/AR tools. Queen Mary University of London used VR headsets to connect chemistry students, locked down at home during the pandemic, to their professor in the classroom. Students could see what the professor saw, overlaid with charts, flows, and other digital information—helping students feel they were physically in the classroom. The use of VR/AR tools also familiarizes students with evolving technology, experiences that can become critical in the emerging world of work.

  • Blockchain - Gone are the days of paper certificates being enough to validate skill and competency. The world lives online and as the future of work shifts to tech-focused careers, the need for secure, validated achievements must shift right along with it. By putting earned credentials, degrees, and achievements onto the blockchain where they can be validated instantly and independently without the need to contact the registrar's office. This gives students have the power to own their skills and monetize their knowledge long after graduation.

  • Cloud computing - The scale and power of the cloud is changing how people communicate, collaborate, and interact with each other around the world. It no longer makes sense to operate and manage massive server farms on campus when you can purchase storage and computer power from cloud providers. At the same time, critical systems that run the school are moving to Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms—including email, payroll, and admissions. Managing technology is quickly giving way to managing technology partners, requiring new IT policies and strategies.

  • Data Integration - Higher education institutions are swimming in data that has the power to influence every aspect of campus life, but the data often lives in legacy systems that can’t communicate with each other effectively. There’s a better way to surface that data and make informed decisions about hiring staff, recruiting students, and making sound financial decisions that benefit the entire institution. For example, Oklahoma State University (OSU) uses data and analytics to streamline reporting and make data-driven decisions across campus, and the University of Idaho (UI) is using data to create insights that improve student and institutional success.

  • Cybersecurity - Higher Education institutions are increasingly becoming targets of cybercriminals around the world. Colleges and universities are a treasure trove of personally identifiable information (PII). Data is spread across campus and students’/professors’ unsecured devices and ransomware gangs are taking advantage, targeting institutions of higher education with demands in the tens of millions of dollars to restore control over proprietary systems. New tactics and tools are being developed, and it’s important that higher ed IT departments and curriculum in computer science programs are updated.

  • Micro-credentials - A micro-credential is a short, competency-based course that allows a student to demonstrate mastery in a particular area. These new forms of modular and short-form learning experiences provide flexible ways for students to learn practical skills—and give potential employers the confidence they have the right level of skills proficiency before they are hired. In fact, Columbia Community College was able to place three students at a single architecture firm as a result of the students earning a credential through the school’s workforce development program. As students continue to make enrollment decisions based on job and career opportunities, colleges and universities need to offer opportunities to learn real-world skills and show their newly obtained proficiency through micro-credentialing.

Don't forget about the power of digital credentials 

Now you have learnt the upcoming technological trends, it is important that you continue to explore the different innovative solutions to improve your stakeholders’ experience, including digital credentials. 

To learn more, download our white paper, 'Boost Higher Education student engagement with digital credentials', where we closely examine the value of digital credentials on students and how they can offer numerous advantages to various stakeholders in your institution. 

Acclaim is here to help your organization bridge the technological gap by connecting you with qualified people with the verifiable skills required to work with this new technology. Schedule a demo to learn more today.