Even before March 2020, a steady decline in undergraduate enrollment was closely watched as higher education moved away from tradition. A significant portion of college students were no longer solely focused on attending full-time classes. It was common to find students who balance work, family, and school because of the time, money, and expense of resources that come with attending college or university.
To maintain a competitive advantage, institutions have focused on improving student outcomes and implementing more effective teaching methods. But COVID-19 has accelerated the need for post-secondary infrastructure changes that can only be achieved through digital transformation (DX).
DX tools support a cohesive K-12 transition to higher education
Through digital transformation, institutions are leveraging technology and data to become more competitive. Universities and colleges are improving the student experience by using data to increase metrics like retention, graduation, and course pass rates. And it starts with having the right digital tools.
More than 10 years ago, Google for education introduced Gmail to colleges and universities, where it has proven to be a valuable communication app. But originally, this was not seen as something that could serve higher education stakeholders.
Since Google workspace has developed into a teaching and learning platform and spread across the entire K-12 sector, school leaders are finding that it can also mitigate critical technical challenges for higher education , especially with incoming students. Today, many students use Google tools throughout their elementary and high school education. By allowing them to continue using these tools in college, it will be easier for faculty to engage these students. This creates a cohesive transition from K-12 to higher education.
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An optimal roadmap for leveraging technology
According to a survey carried out in 2021 by the Boston Consulting Group, 70 percent higher education leaders prioritize the development of the digital capabilities of their institutions; however, only 15 percent identified it as one of their highest priorities. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, but one of the main reasons is that many institutions simply don’t have a plan. They don’t have a roadmap for leveraging technology. They often buy platforms or build other tools to manage workflows without realizing that existing tools like Google for Education can meet many of their needs and streamline processes in a structured way.
Many don’t understand that Google Workspace for Education is an all-in-one suite of productivity, communication and collaboration tools that comply with Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) Standards. Its advantages include:
- Student-centric flexibility. Workspace tools help institutions create a student-centric ecosystem. They allow schools to tailor the student experience with cohesive communication and collaboration through apps, onboarding, education, and post-graduation activities. Take, for example, a Brunette college teacher using Google’s Tilt Brush to engage your American history class.
- Reliable research workloads. Stakeholders can seamlessly research, access data, and make decisions using trusted cloud technology in Workspace. For this reason, the University of South Carolina uses google cloud for optimize its research workflows.
- Advanced IT support. IT managers can ensure privacy and security with Workspace tools that protect against threats, mitigate attacks, monitor data, and manage content sharing. Amherst College, for example, used Google’s migration to resolve a complete network failure.
MORE ABOUT EDTECH: Find out how Kent State built a network that can withstand anything.
As digital transformation takes place in the postsecondary space, Google for Education is reappearing in new forms. Unlike K-12 school districts which can adopt the entire Workspace platform, higher education leaders are integrating key tools and features into their digital infrastructure. This is another reason why institutions should include Google for Education in their actionable digital transformation plans.
Google doesn’t just push the entire Workspace platform; it gives universities tools that meet the needs of their faculty, staff and students, as they can integrate into virtually any existing system. When institutions demanded inboxes, Google came up with Gmail. When they had to upgrade their learning management systems, Google provided Homework.
Overcome the challenges that are holding back the growth of higher education
Digital transformation improves the daily operations of higher education. Yet institutions face organizational barriers that prevent them from reaching digital maturity. It is the result of competing priorities, decentralized decision-making, budgetary constraints and cultural resistance. To mitigate these growth-constraining challenges, institutions should:
- Make technology investments with a good return on investment. Cloud technology can be off-putting because of the cost, but its ability to scale out and replace other on-premises systems means a good return on your investment. Institutions make the decision to cut underutilized services to help consolidate technology and cover the costs of more efficient tools.
- Centralize decision making. Digital transformation thrives on data-driven decision making. However, when there are different data systems within the institution, it affects the way decisions are made and the foundations on which the future is built.
- Take small, strategic steps. Institutions migrating to a new system like Google for Education can make the mistake of changing too much too quickly, which can disrupt the current workflow. Digital transformation is an institution-wide journey, but there is no need for a complete overhaul. Start with small projects and technology integrations that work with what’s already available. This will help leaders reduce resistance among their stakeholders.
Colleges and universities cannot delay digital transformation if they are to retain current students and increase enrollment. There is an urgent need for institutions to prioritize digital capabilities, beyond just having the latest technology. It is interesting to acquire digital tools that help define strategic direction, modify proposals and respond to the new student experience.
This article is part of the EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.