[Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on Optimal-Partners blog here.]
The future of Higher Education is a popular topic of discussion among academics and administrative staff alike. But, while there are plenty of differing positions about what will facilitate the most important changes in the next few years, there seems to be a consensus that technology will be leading the charge.
In an attempt to get a better grasp of what to expect in Higher Ed IT in the next 4 years, Optimal Partners is collaborating with eCampus News to survey CIO’s and other IT decision makers at a wide range of universities in the U.S. and ask them about the status of Higher Ed IT.
In the meantime, we sat down with our founder and CEO, Nuno Couto, to see what he has to say about what the future will bring for university technology.
Q: Hi Nuno. It seems like the same few topics for discussion keep popping up when IT professionals talk about the future of Higher Ed (student retention, online-learning, and interconnectivity for example). Do you expect these to change or will the focus shift to how we adapt to them with advances in technology and policy?
Nuno: Some will change. Some will stay the same. Universities are facing pressure from every side. More students and parents are questioning the value of a college education than ever. Many who still believe in a college degree can’t afford it. Less expensive online learning models are becoming more and more popular. All of this creates tremendous financial pressures for most universities, possibly less so at the large elite institutions. A growing number of colleges and universities are actually closing their doors. Universities have no choice but to continue to do more with less in order to stay afloat. The competitive pressures on the organization are also going to force universities to be more innovative─more innovative in their funding and business models, and more innovative in their use of existing and new technologies—or they will become outdated. Whether it is competency-based learning, flipped classrooms, micro-credentials, or blended-learning, Higher Ed institutions must be open to the possibilities. Indeed, the ones that will do best are those that differentiate themselves not with new hot trends or technology just for the sake of being progressive, but with a new and different approach that relieves a pain point of their target student niche. Universities must think like entrepreneurs if they are going to survive. They will need to be very clear as to what type of student they are aiming to serve, what those students’ pain points are, and how they can resolve those issues in a way that leverages the university’s strengths. Universities must also have a laser-like focus on the effective use of technology. It is important that technology is part of many answers, but not the single answer to all problems.