People, Not Wires: Using Technology to Create a User-Friendly, Modern Campus

People, Not Wires: Using Technology to Create a User-Friendly, Modern Campus

By Eric Hawley on Friday, October 30, 2015

Take a stroll across any university or college campus today, and you’ll notice a sizeable majority of students, faculty, and staff clutching some type of device. A mobile phone. A tablet. A laptop. Something portable with the capability of connecting them to the Internet. People on your campus today are bringing their own devices, and they expect to be able to communicate with your institution with that device—and not just in the classroom, but from anywhere. This technological revolution is upon us, and institutions that don’t keep up will be left behind. 

Fortunately, we’re in a golden era of innovation, with powerful tools designed specifically for higher education. It’s the perfect time for campuses to adopt the technology demanded by students, faculty and staff. Here’s why:

It’s all about efficiency. Higher ed technology today must reduce complexity to promote efficiency. Good design and great user-interface is essential. Designing responsively (mobile-first), even for access on more traditional devices such as laptops, allows users to access information through a simple interface, with the institution’s branding, so they have a consistent, intuitive, pleasant experience. No technical manuals required. Anything the student or employee needs should be right there, on the institution’s systems, contextually relevant, and with a minimum of clicks. Higher education technology has advanced to the point where it can be user friendly.

Technology can transform education strategy—for the better. For example, current technology allows for multiple and hybrid delivery types. Whether face-to-face, online, competency-based, live, on-demand, or some combination, education is no longer a one-size fits-all proposition. Faculty and advisors can obtain powerful analytics on student progress and adjust their methods to provide a more effective educational experience. The cloud permits students and faculty to have easier access to their information, and more control over how they use it to learn or teach. Educational technology is geared toward promoting human interaction and creativity, which can have tremendous benefits for any institution.

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel.Colleges and universities are no longer required to build their technological service infrastructure from the ground up. Think about Lego building blocks: They come in numerous shapes and sizes, and you can build virtually anything with them. In many respects, that’s how higher education technology works today. We don’t need to come up with a registration system. That’s been done—successfully—and our job now is to choose the technological elements we like, as if we were selecting Lego blocks, and build a modern campus around them.

The role of an IT department at a college or university should be to support people and objectives, not wires and servers. That’s exactly what we believe at Utah State University. And today’s educational technology provides the tools to make it happen.

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About the Author

Eric Hawley

Eric Hawley

Associate Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Utah State University

In addition to his roles as AVP for IT and CIO, Eric Hawley is an Adjunct Professor in the Huntsman College of Business.