Why College Technology is Important to Students and How to get Others to Buy into New Tech.

Technology is becoming a defining factor in the quality of higher education. With the pace of technological development seemingly accelerating year after year, and with every modern profession requiring some level of tech familiarity, it makes sense that education experience should be immersed in these new tools and platforms.

But what happens if the university is years—or even decades behind on the latest technology? What actionable steps can you take to ensure that you have access to the tech you need for your student’s future?

Why Technology Is So Important

Let’s start by covering some of the reasons why tech is so important in a university setting:

  • Differentiated education. Tech provides multiple ways to learn, allowing students to forgo, complement, or enhance traditional education paths.
  • Cost-efficiency. It costs a bit of money to upgrade your tech, but it pays off in dividends, ultimately reducing the cost of education if it makes education more efficient.
  • Tech familiarity. Using tech for students’ education prepares them with the skills necessary to learn and use new tech in their future careers.
  • Immediate feedback. Tech-based education tools like video-based learning help students get immediate feedback so that they can learn actively and responsively with self-reflection.
  • Higher engagement. Today’s students have more opportunities to feel engaged, thanks to the one-on-one opportunities that technology provides.
  • Thought leadership. Universities equipped with the latest technology can teach skills and provide experiences that other universities can’t. It differentiates them and provides more clout to the students who attend.
  • Flexibility. Education-focused tech tools offer students more flexibility, sometimes allowing them to choose when they want to attend class or take exams—which is ideal for students with busy schedules.

 

Evaluating Your University’s Standards

How are you supposed to tell whether the technology used by your university is adequate for student needs?

This answer depends partially on your department and program, but there are several clues you can use to determine how up-to-date your school is. It’s hard to say exactly what the timeline is for tech obsolescence since tech development is constantly accelerating, but you can look at the publication or update years of the technology you’re using as a decent indication of how attentive your university is to tech updates. If your devices and software are more than five years old, it’s usually a bad sign, and in some cases, even a few years could mean the difference between a technology being the universal standard and belonging to the scrap heap.

If you can, talk to professors and ideally, those who are utilizing existing technology in their classrooms to gauge its effectiveness or barriers it might have. Do professors wish they had access to more up-to-date technology? Does your university’s tech seem several years behind what’s being used in the real world?

How to get others to buy into new Technology.

If you find that your university’s standards are lacking, you have several options:

  • Talk to the CIO. University CIOs are usually the ones responsible for implementing new technologies in various departments, so they should be your first stop. Schedule an appointment with the CIO, or work your way up the administrative ladder, and prepare a handful of talking points about why the tech is lacking and what can be done to fix the problem. The more prepared you are, the better you are to communicate how students are suffering because of the existing tech.
  • Start fundraising. With the high rates of tuition these days, fundraising isn’t going to be your most popularly received option, but it is a chance to pay for new technology for your department without having the explicit budget approval of high-level administrators. Consider crowdfunding or reaching out to influencers in your field who may be willing to sponsor the acquisition of tech that can improve your education.
  • Look at what other Universities are using. Seeing solutions having real results at other schools can be a great indicator of the benefits technology can provide. It showcases to others within the university what the potential and quantitative results are to help push decision-makers in the right direction. Not only does it help you provide examples of its uses in your department but can help discover others that can use the same tech, that way you have support from others within your school.
  • Bring CIO or Technology Team Members in from the beginning - When you start your new technology search, bring in the experts from the beginning. They may be able to vouch for certain software or hardware and they can help think of important questions that should be asked that may not be top of mind.
  • Discuss with Department Heads - If you can understand the needs of other departments, there might be a common solution that certain technology can solve for multiple uses. This can help save time and costs if there is a system architecture that can be easily scaled and implemented as programs grow. If you have the buy-in for a system from multiple departments the more likely you will see approval.

 

The problem of tech in universities isn’t going away. As rates of technological change continue to accelerate, new students are going to find it even harder to get involved with a school with the latest and greatest in everything. Fortunately, if you’re proactive about identifying when your school’s tech is behind, you can take steps to make sure you get access to the resources you need.

 

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