Superior Ed-Tech Focuses on the Student Experience
Higher education IT teams are tasked with a tall order these days: to deliver unsurpassed innovation while sticking to shrinking budgets. At the same time, as a recent EdSurge column puts it, higher-ed technology is at a crossroads as colleges work to better serve students from more diverse backgrounds.
With the ongoing evolution and new online capabilities to deliver education, students are more likely than ever before to be the first in their family to attend college, to hold a job, to be an older student, and balance family needs and other responsibilities. In other words, they tend to juggle multiple priorities, and often face economic hurdles. For example, it's common for lower-income students to depend exclusively on a mobile device for their Internet access.
To serve such students, many IT teams are working hard to craft great distance learning and videoconferencing infrastructure, and to build out robust mobility plans. Yet, budget constraints aside, many teams have been held back by higher ed IT products created or selected on the basis of short-term goals like efficiency—rather than the student learning experience.
For today's higher education institutions, it's important to take a measured approach to new infrastructure investments. As we wrote in an earlier blog post on the 3Rs of connectivity, higher ed technology strategy thrives when IT leaders take the time to relate, review, and refresh—often.
Those basic principles also apply if you want to ensure that every new product truly serves students' best interests. We recommend that IT leaders:
Relate the product to the student experience. When new technology needs are identified, always consider the student experience first—then figure out the budget. Technologies with long-term value potential might be worth an additional up-front investment. Alternatively, when you don't see a strong real-world student use case for a product's varied features, look elsewhere.
Review analytics before committing to a purchase. The power of predictive analytics becomes stronger every year when you actually invest in the data and tools. One of the many benefits of application analytics? IT teams can identify under-utilized apps and programs and gain insight into key features that might—or might not—be needed in a replacement.
Refresh purchasing strategy often to reflect changing student needs. It pays to revisit priorities on a regular basis. Ideally, you should work with faculty, recruitment, student affairs and other departments to help ensure your technology strategy aligns with real-time needs.
Ultimately, great ed-tech strategy depends on your ability to stay ahead of the curve. By keeping the student experience front and center in all decisions, you can help ensure that your team does just that.