One Mission in Mind

One thing we absolutely love about attending the EDUCAUSE annual conference is...

being able to converse with so many higher ed IT professionals. From CIOs to IT teams, there are many different perspectives on how digital innovation can improve student outcomes, increase IT efficiency, and support continual development to an overall improved student experience.

Like many industries, higher education is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. Does this mean innovation has been slowed down as a result? Certainly not. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. We spoke to countless professionals who shared one mission in mind: Enhance the student experience to improve student outcomes, whilst making higher ed IT efforts more efficient and more effective.

We attended a multitude of presentations and sessions at the convention. Despite there being so many perspectives and insight avenues, there were clear, stand-out, recurring themes. There is, for sure, a focus on tackling issues by adapting traditional methods.

Everything is Anywhere

EDUCAUSE have listed the top ten IT issues higher education institutions will be tackling in 2023. Notably, they mention how everything should be anywhere. How do institutions develop a learning-first, technology-enabled learning strategy?

AppsAnywhere’s COO, Pete Cooke, posed questions earlier in the year such as: How do vendors offer more IT assistance to institutions? How do institutions partner with other organizations? How do we implement automation and artificial intelligence into IT strategies?

AppsAnywhere CEO and Co-Founder, Nick Johnson, also forecasts how “we’ll see the introduction of AI and automation into all areas of the student experience”.

The Inevitable Rise of BYOD

It’s an interesting avenue that is triggered in some parts due to the virtualization of learning environments brought by travel restrictions during the pandemic. Many institutions have seen a huge rise in BYOD policies, and schemes offering loan laptops have also been adopted by higher ed institutions across the world such as Utah University in the US and Middlesex University in the UK, to name only two.

Pair this with online learning, online assessments, and online collaboration between peers, it is clear there is a preference amongst the student population. It is then up to IT teams to work out how to deliver that preference.

As Elon University said, “Students just want their tech to work, they don’t want to have to think about how they’re getting their software, they just want it.”

Welcome HyFlex Learning

What we’re seeing is the higher ed industry embracing the hybrid model. Not in a be-all-and-end-all situation though. Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, state in their clearing process that 50% of all their learning will be online. Students often have different preferences though and in fact, this needs to be a flexible solution. Welcome, HyFlex learning.

When we throw digital equity in the mix as well, ensuring institutions cater to students on campus, students with a BYOD preference, remote learning, and distance-learning students, financial implications arise. Institutions are now looking to deliver on that student preference by adapting traditional methods.

As the saying goes, to make way for the new, it must be out with the old. Although does it?

Campus Labs are Dead?

It is clear the higher education landscape is changing. Changing is the keyword. Similar to the AppsAnywhere mentality, there’s no need to rip and replace. Instead, bring together the technologies you already use. Bring together the aspects already in place to create the ideal solution. Campus labs in a traditional setting have large expenses and scaling back on these expenses does pave the way for new technologies.

Queensland University of Technology speaking about campus labs mentioned ‘if a student has bought their own device, they want to be able to use their own device’. They also spoke about ‘how students would simply move the university-provided equipment out of their way to open their own device’.

So, has BYOD eliminated the need for campus labs? Actually, it’s increased the need for them.

Campus Labs rethought encourages collaboration. Whiteboards. Communal seating areas. Collaboration spaces. They also facilitate individual working in a welcoming environment. Dual monitors. Increased desk space. In fact, repurposed campus labs can cater to any student preference and seem to be the holy grail in this HyFlex era.

The Finish Line

There is a clear path that higher ed institutions will take in the near future. Innovate and evolve. Repurpose and adapt. Deliver and excel. One thing is for certain, we at AppsAnywhere truly can’t wait to see the results at the finish line.

Overall, as Nick has said before, but there’s no harm in it being quoted again, “I think outside of our world and our sector in general, people don't realize how innovative higher ed institutions are, and I don't think that's appreciated enough.”

Thank you EDUCAUSE 2022. See you next year.

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