Today’s college students require more flexibility in their courses, increased accessibility to online learning materials, and teachers who are willing and able to create opportunities for more personalized learning experiences.
There is the need for a student-centered ecosystem of technologies that creates engaging and empowering learning experiences while also providing better data to educators. In a rapidly changing market of hundreds of technologies aimed at higher education, selecting the right systems can seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, a growing number of today’s technologies include capabilities that serve multiple categories. Colleges and universities don’t necessarily need a tool from each category to achieve their goals. But where do you begin to innovate your educational technology systems and build a better student-centered ecosystem?
We break down the process into four main steps.
1. Identify Institutional Goals For EdTech Systems
Why you are using technology is as important as how you are using it. What parts of the student learning experience do you want to improve with specific technologies and how do you expect outcomes to change? Administrators should support educators in developing research-based, technology-enabled teaching practices that are validated by data.
By identifying goals up front, you are more likely to find the right combination of tools that help you improve student learning experiences.
2. Evaluate The Success of Current Technologies
Most institutions already utilize multiple technologies to support various aspects of their students’ learning experiences. Recognizing this reality, it will be best for most schools to start by evaluating what you are already using.
Educators testing new technologies should consider any existing solutions already in place when defining the criteria that will measure success, and pay close attention to any challenges that arise while piloting with new, additional tools.
Administrative and technology teams on campuses can also partner to tap into data and analytics from existing applications that provide insight into student progress and outcomes. When silos are broken down and data is aggregated, institutions can gain a better understanding of existing learning ecosystems built on technology, demonstrate their effectiveness, and use the data to make improvements.
3. Standardize On and Scale Existing Educational Technologies
The next step towards building a better learning ecosystem is to scale the systems that work — migrating to one or a few connected systems that can be used campus-wide not only creates efficiency, but also improves adoption and data sharing.
For example, you may have different LMS or video software systems that are used throughout departments on campus. By standardizing on a single LMS and a video platform that integrates well with that LMS, you can maintain flexibility, increase adoption, collect better learning data, and ultimately improve student outcomes.
4. Plan For The Future
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many educational institutions chose to alter the way in which students access learning materials and the very nature of the learning classroom.
Virtual learning, distance learning, and hybrid learning is the present and future of educational technology, and educational institutions need to keep up with the changing needs of students. According to research from Pearson, 60% of students aged between 14 and 23 preferred video as a tool for learning over static learning materials.
It is important that institutions move to adopt a more nimble approach and more scalable tools and solutions. According to Global News Wire, the open online course market could be worth $25.33 billion by 2025. Fortunately, many colleges and universities are already moving away from ad hoc technology adoption driven by faculty and departments, and instead implementing standardized systems campus-wide.
In planning for the future, leaders in higher education should continue to explore new technologies that improve access, affordability, quality, and outcomes. Embracing a “test and learn” philosophy when it comes to new technologies will better inform your academic practices ultimately help shape how students learn in the future.