Colleges and Universities worldwide are evolving in response to advancing online instruction and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on on-campus classroom attendance. As a result, these institutions now focus heavily on decentralization, virtual, and autonomous learning. As this tech-heavy environment continues building momentum, a more broad digital transformation in higher education occurs. However, game-changing shifts like these are not simple migrations and require significant planning, staffing, and training.
What is Digital Transformation in Higher Education?
Higher education institutions benefit from digital transformation because it improves teaching, learning, and education in general. Beyond e-learning, digital transformation employs technology and data to improve institutional operations on a bigger scale, benefiting staff, students, and alumni.
Why is Digital Transformation Important?
Like any other company, institution IT departments are pressured to automate and produce results using as few resources as possible, mainly when operating on low budgets. However, the faculty and staff do not always have the technological know-how to solve process-related problems using campus legacy platforms, and optimization initiatives might have an insignificant long-term impact.
While IT tries to accommodate as many faculty and staff members as possible, there are often too many requests and process modifications to handle. As a result, staff continue to employ paper processes to meet time-sensitive deadlines.
Even in cases where institutions can leverage today’s technological advancements, many still perform certain activities on paper. Some even resist digitization because of an aversion to change, cost concerns, and understaffed IT departments. Their competitive advantages are minimal, and they struggle to keep pace without the benefits of automation via digital transformation.
Four Best Practices to Achieve Digital Transformation in Higher Education
Here are four digital transformation best practices for institutions to consider:
Bolster Your IT and Digital Transformation Teams
Any institution’s IT department requires leadership support to complete a digital transformation by employing and training the right IT professionals and investing in the appropriate technologies.
This process might include the following:
- Forming a digital transformation team to strategize and implement digital change projects throughout campus
- Hiring staff with a diverse range of technological skill
- Raising awareness of digital transformation relevance to board members
- Assembling teams to assist in digital transformation innovation and implementation on campus
- Conducting development activities
- Creating policies that value digital literacy across the institution
Create Personalized Journeys for Students
Institutions might consider providing content relevant to each student’s educational goals and making it easy to find. Creating personalized moments for each audience in a virtual environment requires a solid understanding of each individual and information corresponding to their interests.
As such, Institutions require the technology to collect data on students across numerous channels and sources, from the moment they begin looking for colleges to their graduation.
For example, many institutions utilize technology to offer interactive experiences such as individualized virtual campus tours beyond providing basic statistics such as test scores and acceptance rates. In-person college visits are more personal and include fun facts like favorite late-night food spots, school traditions, and promote interaction. The goal of a virtual tour is to replicate these experiences in a virtual environment.
Encourage Digital Literacy
“Digital literacy” is the ability to locate, assess, and share data through digital information and communication technologies.
Institutional leaders and IT heads are leading the charge to affect these changes by incentivizing digital literacy in the following ways:
- Considering a professor’s grasp on digital literacy before granting tenure
- Recognizing and rewarding staff members who encourage and develop digital content
- Encouraging “lunch and learns” where teachers and staff share insights, creating IT-led training sessions on technology and establishing digital processes
- Providing incentives for pursuing online training
- Compiling a list of digital tutorials for courses and programs
Investigate New Technologies
Tech pioneers are constantly testing new digital transformation solutions and studying how the results will impact college student engagements with institutions. Testing platforms and methodologies include blockchain, AI, and computer simulations.
For example, a college student might be up late studying for an important exam and need answers to specific questions. That student might find an immediate response to that problem via AI teaching assistants and chatbots instead of waiting until the next day’s professor or teaching assistant office hours.
To test this solution, institutions might form a campus-wide pilot group to try these new technologies like predictive analyses, virtual reality, and robotic process automation. Those institutions can then determine which investments can successfully promote their mission by measuring the results during finite time trials.
Cask and ServiceNow Can Help you Keep Pace in a Digital Learning Environment
Higher education is undergoing a significant digital transition that shows no signs of slowing down. College and University leaders must quickly adjust to students’ new expectations to increase enrollment rates and keep current students, staff, and alumni interested.
Request a quote today and discover how a higher education digital transformation with ServiceNow can help you compete in an expanding online learning environment.