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Top 5 I.T. Trends that Will Transform Higher Education

Mar 14, 2019, by Ben Fineman
Tags: Advanced Networking, Internet of Things, Internet2 NET+, Recent Posts, Security, Voice Over IP

The digital shift is being felt in fundamental ways, and the university environment is no exception. Student populations of college age are increasingly web-savvy and digitally connected, challenging higher education leaders to embody technologies that will support advanced forms of digital learning.

Key Takeaways
  • Evaluate your current university environment to guide your digital transformation efforts
  • Understand the technology trends that will impact your daily operations in the future
  • Plan for the deployment and adoption of advanced technologies that include AI and IoT
  • Recognize that your university community is increasingly mobile and collaborative
  • Prioritize the role of the contact center as the primary hub for all communications channels
The Internet2 NET+ SIP Service

The Internet2 community tracks important technological advances in the evaluation of ser-vices available to members. Through Internet2 NET+ members and carefully evaluated cloud service providers drive secure, easily deployed and integrated commercial cloud applications that help maximize efficiencies and minimize the business and legal challenges, financial costs, and technology risks of using cloud-based solutions.

Mitel Clearspan is a centralized platform for higher education call center applications and other high-demand organizations. At its core is a powerful processing architecture capable of serving over 100,000 users.

Barriers to adoption remain; while it’s clear that digital transformation is changing traditional business models, cost optimization and cultural resistance can decelerate digital initiatives or cause them to be abandoned altogether. What can university decision-makers do to resolve potential issues and move forward with a successful digital strategy? 

The first step is to evaluate your own university environment, and address these questions: 

  • What are your current work processes? 
  • What interaction points do you have?
  • Who are your users and customers?
  • What are the future goals of your stakeholders? and; 
  • What strategies do you have in place to meet them? 

The second step is to identify the trends that will impact the daily operations of your university. In this post, we’ll explore five factors that will contribute to digital success in the higher education environment, with a special focus on communications.

  1. Artificial Intelligence: Conversational technologies will be among the first entrants to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space, with two primary benefits: improving the university experience and off-loading demands on contact center personnel.

    Chatbots, for example, will support both internal and external users by providing answers to standard questions online, while AI learning will support and train contact center personnel during live inquiry interactions.
  2. IoT: The Internet of Things (IoT) has already been shown to vastly improve the campus experience, and has helped universities stay on the cutting-edge of research and technological advancement in a controlled and cost-effective way. By capturing and reporting data in real-time, IoT technology can provide valuable information about population flow, security, air quality, utility consumption, noise levels, communication surges and other experiential issues, which can then be converted to service changes that improve the quality of campus life. You can check out IoT work done by other universities at the Internet2 IoT Working Group.
  3. Information Security: Securing institutional data and systems are a high priority, and threats are increasing. Managing information security and privacy requires involvement not only from the IT organization, but from stakeholders and decision makers from outside IT as well. Joining higher education efforts like the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC), EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council working groups, or Internet2 working groups can be a great way to collaborate with other security experts at other universities. Including AI in threat detection and security services could be an important piece of the puzzle moving forward.
  4. Mobility: Increasingly, university students, faculty and administrators are a mobile population, rotating among classrooms, campuses, off-campus events and community internships. Moreover, collaborative learning methods are gaining traction, encouraging information sharing among students who are physically remote from the classroom. This trend will require a communication solution that enables all users—students, faculty, staff, contact centers and IT departments—to understand and secure availability and access.
  5. The Contact Center: Internal and external communications are a critical part of how universities are perceived and evaluated. As the primary communications hub, the university contact center offers multiple communication channels to users, providing centralized access to social media, voice, chat, and mail. By unifying these channels on a single platform, universities can streamline and simplify the user experience with the contact center at its core.