The Future of Higher Education—and How Workflow Software Can Help

There have been some key innovations to America’s higher education system over the past few decades (the internet, computers, and online learning). But still, much of the structure has remained the same as it was, even dating back to the Colonial era.

The majority of today’s students still pay tuition to attend in-person lectures, enroll in general education courses, and take summers off from course work. They sit in rows of desks and meet professors during office hours. 

But the world looks vastly different than it did in the 1600s, and higher education is quickly evolving to reflect those changes. Current events and the COVID-19 pandemic have further highlighted the need for colleges and universities to be more agile and innovative when it comes to higher education structure in a modern world—and tools like higher education workflow software are helping them do just that.

COVID-19 and Higher Education Technology

Since computers were first introduced into classrooms in the 1980s, the IT department has played an important role in higher education. Yet many IT professionals have not truly had a seat at the table to make big decisions for the institutions that employ them. Less than 5% of most college budgets are dedicated to IT spending. That is—until COVID-19 completely changed the landscape.

The pandemic forced higher education administrators to turn to IT professionals for innovative solutions on how to run a college entirely online. This automation and digital transformation has forever changed the way institutions operate, and the criticality of the IT department is more apparent than ever before.

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EdTech Trends

Education technology brought in $4.5 billion in venture capital in the first half of 2020 alone—and those numbers are expected to triple over the next ten years.

So what are some of the specific ways technology is influencing the future of higher education? Here are just a few of today’s EdTech trends that may be here to stay.

1. Remote Learning

From video conferencing platforms to exam proctoring software, higher education institutions are investing more in remote work capabilities than ever before. Most institutions had no choice but to switch to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. But many experts say this change was long overdue, and remote work is here to stay.

Moving forward, campuses will be looking for ways to overcome some of the challenges associated with remote learning, such as student engagement and academic honesty. From chat tools to social interaction software, institutions will be investing in solutions to improve the quality of remote learning.

2. Increased Security and Compliance

In the age of cyber hacking and data breaches, businesses and organizations are scrambling to find ways to become more secure and compliant—and colleges and universities are no different.

Institutions at the forefront of EdTech trends are consulting with IT professionals to ensure their data is protected from hackers and compliant with the latest industry standards. Many students also have growing concerns about how their information is being used and shared across campus, and administrators are spending more time determining responsible ways to use that data and communicate those uses to students.

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3. Micro-Credentials

In 2018, just 20% of higher education institutions offered micro-credentials, but this number is expected to grow to 30-40% over the next decade. As Gen Z contemplates the value of a bachelor’s degree, colleges and universities need to offer alternative options. 

Micro-credentials are popular because they’re affordable, easy to obtain, and easy to build upon over time. These narrowly focused programs will allow students to get ahead in the job market by developing specialized, in-demand skills. Most certainly, competitive institutions of the future will be offering a growing number of micro-credentials. 

4. Workflow Automation Software

Workflow automation software has played a major role in the digital transformation of higher education. Many schools are stretched tight on budgets and resources. And as they look to do more with less, workflow automation offers an appealing solution.

No-code software allows IT departments to quickly build customized forms that streamline processes and save time. These cloud-based forms make it easier and more secure to gather and share data across departments. As campuses change with the times, automation software is an essential part of creating more robust, flexible, and secure workflow processes.

5. AI

Artificial intelligence is influencing every facet of the modern world, including higher education. Today’s institutions are using AI for everything from online courses to advising students on the best courses to take.

For example, chatbots can personalize the learning experience, deliver instant feedback after online assessments, or provide recommended reading to enhance the course experience. AI-powered apps could even help ease the burdens of traveling to and from campus, telling students where to find parking or when to leave home to get to class.

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6. Complex Networks

Along with the switch to remote learning, many students rely on laptops, smartphones, and tablets to complete coursework. For this reason, institutions must create more complex, robust network infrastructures to keep up with the demand.

Campuses should consider elements like speed, network pipes, surges in traffic, and outdoor Wi-Fi to ensure students and faculty have the resources they need for high-quality education. Already, we’ve seen the need for outdoor Wi-Fi access; during the pandemic, students at many institutions did not have the internet speed necessary to complete their coursework from home. Institutions quickly mobilized to deliver Wi-Fi to campus parking lots

Increasing Agility with EdTech

The pandemic has brought IT to the forefront of higher education. IT now has a seat at the table to make decisions and provide even more agility to the institution through technology. Is your institution ready to increase agility, efficiency, and productivity? Consider Kuali Build, a workflow automation software, to improve your campus’s student- and faculty-facing workflows. Designed specifically to meet the needs of higher education institutions, Kuali Build helps colleges and universities proactively increase efficiencies and embrace digital transformation. 

Easily integrated with your existing systems, Kuali Build is meant for IT offices, registrar's offices, and research departments. Whether you need to build forms, complex workflows, or online curriculum, our workflow software can help you do so with greater efficiency and effectiveness. 

Learn more about the future of higher ed technology, and how institutions are using Kuali Build to power digital transformations, in a recent panel discussion with higher ed CIOs.