You don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that mobile tools and applications will play a huge role in the future of higher education. Students and professors virtually live on handheld devices. You can’t walk across campus without bumping into a student texting on a smartphone or doing coursework on a tablet.
In recent years, Internet-ready mobile devices have evolved from a fringe curiosity to a staple of everyday life. And it should come as no surprise that college students are among the most voracious users.
College and university officials tend to bristle at the suggestion that they should “think like a business.” While it’s critical for institutions to be transparent in their operations and to use resources such as data analytics to drive change within and across the organization, higher education is not a traditional corporate enterprise. Institutions face unique challenges, many of which do not fit neatly on a balance sheet.
You know what’s great? The mapping application on your smartphone. Sit down in your car and type in an address; within seconds you’re provided with several routes that promise to get you to your destination. Depending on your app of choice, you might even be able to see which route will get you there fastest, with the least amount of traffic.
There’s no question that the cloud has important implications for higher education. Most institutions already use some form of cloud-based software, whether in the classroom or for administrative purposes. But the majority of these integrations have occurred gradually and amid cautious optimism.
Take a walk on campus and ask the first five people you encounter for directions to the office of institutional research (IR). Here’s betting you get five puzzled looks.
Researchers have always operated in the background. Men and women sitting in rooms, poring over spreadsheets and databases, searching for answers to the problems that plague our institutions: logistics, enrollment, academics, completion. The list goes on.
It stands to reason that a highly competitive student would want to get into a highly competitive institution.
Likewise, most institutions want to attract students who are primed for success. But, as more students pursue the promise of a higher education, competition for seats at the nation’s top-flight colleges and universities has reached a fever pitch.
Backed by a challenge from President Obama and several national education organizations, the nation’s colleges and universities have actively embraced the completion agenda, implementing countless pilot projects and initiatives to keep students enrolled and progressing toward their academic goals.
What keeps your institution running day after day, year after year? Students and infrastructure are a huge part of your ecosystem, but few resources are as critical to your success as top-notch faculty and staff.
The makeup of the traditional student body continues to change. Colleges and universities still enroll plenty of eager high school graduates in pursuit of two- and four-year degrees. But, increasingly, institutions also enroll older students, many of whom return to college to upgrade their skills in pursuit of a second or third career.