Technology and the future of higher education

By Aatish Shukla

The shift from classroom (offline) to online teaching has not been an easy transition. Demands from students for information in digital formats and consistent delivery of outstanding experiences are evolving. Higher education CIOs and leaders must find the right balance between managing operations efficiently and preparing for challenges. The objective should be to build a unified digital platform that will support university operations and provide the right experience to all stakeholders with the help of analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The three areas that will form the pillars for a better tomorrow are:

Operational excellence: No education establishment, whether they leverage physical, virtual or hybrid formats, would want its students and faculty to get entangled in administrative challenges. But most technology solutions in this space pivot on physical campuses to drive the admission-to-graduation cycle. On the other hand, intelligent enterprise solutions help institutes achieve operational excellence while reducing the time spent by students on administrative tasks. They enable communications, approvals and decision-making to become a digital platform for the university to operate eventually.

Student experience: Innovative institutions will want students to be engaged and not forced to enter data. AI and ML would let the student enter minimal data, and the rest will be derived. Digital campuses need to create an end-to-end digital student lifecycle management, right from recruitment to alumni, without requiring on-campus presence. It would also need to address the evolving needs of the complete ecosystem of stakeholders, including students, faculty, parents, sponsors, business corporations and government institutions.

Embedded & predictive analytics: Higher education lags behind other sectors in using analytics to make decisions to address their tactical and strategic issues and stars for intelligent insights. ‘What to do’ and ‘How to do’ are the questions this sector has answers to most of the time, but the question ‘When to do’ can be best answered by building intelligence at the institution’s core to enable timely data-driven decisions .Pankaj Srivastava, chief technology officer of Gurgaon-based NorthCap University, says that while we have seen the transition from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0, we are now in the midst of Education 4.0, ushered in by the rapid influx of technology. “Instructor’s role is evolving into a mentor and guide, degrees are gradually losing significance as certified skills take the driver’s, and digital space is taking over the classroom, with AR/VR supplementing labs,” he says. The three pressing challenges in the journey towards Education 4.0, he adds, are the reluctance to re-engineer and adopt new technologies, cost and lack of a well-defined strategy. The future of the higher education sector lies in adopting analytics, artificial-augmented intelligence and machine learning to build a unified digital platform.

The author is practice head, Higher Education & Research, YASH Technologies. Views are personal

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