higher ed IT can help streamline education

3 ways IT tools are streamlining higher ed

One major priority for campus IT leaders is to invest in technology that streamlines administrative functions

As higher-ed institutions increasingly rely on technology, campus IT and IT leadership are assuming a pivotal role in ensuring that universities satisfy the needs of students, staff, and faculty. To achieve that satisfaction, it is imperative for these leaders to prioritize appropriate initiatives and investments that uphold their institutions’ competitiveness and deliver high-quality educational experiences.

One of the foremost priorities for campus IT leaders is to invest in technology that streamlines administrative functions. Given that many institutions are now operating with a smaller staff, outdated and complex procedures are no longer options. These old processes not only increase the likelihood of errors but also require time and labor costs they can no longer afford. This streamlining endeavor encompasses solutions that rectify inferior grading and exam scheduling processes, as well as tools that enhance the classroom experience.

Here are 3 ways IT tools are streamlining academic processes and revolutionizing higher education:

Grading can be arduous in higher education, impacting both faculty and administrative staff. Instructors are tasked with evaluating student work precisely and promptly, ensuring impartiality, and sometimes even anonymity. However, the pressure for Registrar staff who must collect and process these grades, while ensuring they meet institutional grading policies, is equally demanding. Registrar staff are often required to work extended hours to keep up with the grading volume, which can take a toll on their productivity and office morale.

Fortunately, many institutions are exploring innovative ways to streamline the grading process and lighten the administrative workload. One such solution involves implementing new IT applications that automate grading procedures, offer real-time feedback to instructors, and significantly reduce the need for manual data entry or calculations.

These IT systems boast several features such as automatic weighted formative and summative assessment calculations, ensuring grades precisely reflect a student’s performance throughout the course. These platforms often include a real-time grading curve conformity checker, customizable grade collection options, and simplified processes for approving or rejecting extension, exemption, and exception requests.

By implementing the right grading software, institutions can centralize these essential processes in ways that ease the burden on all parties involved. This approach speeds up the overall grading process, freeing up administrative staff to focus on higher-level tasks while fostering a culture of efficiency and innovation that ultimately benefits the entire academic community.

Exam Scheduling is a critical challenge faced by higher education institutions, and the traditional method of using spreadsheets to build and communicate schedules is often slow and cumbersome. Fortunately, there are IT solutions available that can simplify and streamline the essential processes involved in creating, validating, and sharing exam schedules.

Advanced exam scheduling applications are equipped with the ability to automatically detect and resolve conflicts that may arise from overlapping schedules, room availability, or even unique exam rules and policies. For instance, many educational institutions have policies in place that limit the number of exams a student can take within a particular period. Other institutions may have restrictions for scheduling exams after 1 p.m. on a Friday or require deferred exams take place only after the original exam time. Manually creating a schedule that accounts for all these variables can be a daunting task, especially given the hundreds, if not thousands, of students with varying course schedules in any given term.

Exam scheduling tools are proving particularly useful in the area of student accommodations. These advanced applications empower administrators to grant individual accommodations and collect any required acknowledgments from students. With the ability to programmatically schedule accommodated exams for different timeslots or rooms based on the accommodations granted, these tools offer unparalleled flexibility and convenience.

The automated dissemination of exam scheduling information to students and proctors not only saves valuable time but also mitigates the potential for errors that could arise from traditional manual scheduling methods.

Classroom management is another area in which software solutions are helping improve student outcomes. Instructors now benefit from advanced classroom management tools that enhance classroom engagement and enable more effective communication with students. These valuable tools allow instructors to create customizable seating charts and view detailed student profiles that include information like name recordings (for accurate pronunciation), student photos, pronouns, and preferred names, to foster better connections with students in the classroom environment.

For faculty, relying on memory to recall student details and using cut-and-paste processes to arrange seating charts are now things of the past. These tools offer options to generate a variety of printed media flashcards, tent cards, and student rosters. Built-in attendance tracking enables one-click attendance taking, while participation tracking allows faculty to measure both the frequency and quality of student participation responses. With this data in hand, faculty can more quickly identify students who may be disengaged or need additional support. This student-centered approach to attendance and class participation gives instructors the ability to create a more personalized learning experience and make necessary adjustments to provide every student with a better chance to succeed.

It is undeniable that technology is causing a revolution in the education sector. The rising demand for cutting-edge IT solutions from various stakeholder groups is prompting campus leaders to make calculated investments in technology to stay competitive and pertinent in an ever-evolving educational environment. 

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Laura Ascione