Industry perspective: What to expect in higher ed-tech this year

The ever-evolving learning environment.

Growing trends in technology will continue to shift traditional learning environments, from virtual and augmented reality to the Internet of Things and connected devices. These capabilities will enable a new era of digital learning that is even more experiential and personalized. Learning will be more interactive and hands on, and smart devices sense and understand how a student is performing and the next step to help them achieve their learning needs at their own pace. The possibilities seem endless. We just need technology providers to recognize the opportunity and build the solutions.

Security will continue to be paramount.

With all this great innovation with technology in education, there also comes risk. Security will continue to be an area that learning institutions will need to tackle – particularly in higher education. Many IT organizations recognize that security breaches are no longer an issue of “if,” but “when.” Security programs to address intrusion detection are becoming increasingly important for universities to mitigate risk. A recent study from the Center for Digital Education found that while organizations in the higher education industry are now better aware of the latest threats and vulnerabilities, numerous challenges still remain. While institutions rank their ability to detect and block cyber-attacks as relatively high, only 17 percent indicate they have not experienced a network breach or incident in the past year.

Leveraging the power of data through predictive analytics for better decision support.

Universities are increasingly deploying predictive analytics programs to improve their decision making in key issues. Big data and predictive analytics have real-world applications to address retention; one specific case is being able to identify failing students early on, giving professors and counselors a chance to not only intervene, but tailor their curriculum to customize the learning experience. From an administrative standpoint, this could also change how institutions spend money on infrastructure. For example, you could find out that most students live off campus and take online classes and the organization could build fewer new buildings and incorporate more digital learning destinations.

There is much that can be done with technology to enhance higher education learning environments. Technology providers need to create solutions that can scale and map to the needs of students and educators, while the IT and administrators need to think more holistically about technology and deployment.

Jon Phillips is managing director, Strategy, Worldwide Education, for Dell