More and more students are pursuing higher education. In the UK alone, during the past school year, over 2.32 million students enrolled in university. Today, technology is taking a front seat in the education sector, which is why MuleSoft recently hosted a UK technology and education roundtable in partnership with UCAS (the equivalent of the Common Application organization in the U.S.). Attendees – from data and enterprise architects to IT and information system leaders – discussed the role that IT teams and technology play in the higher education sector and shared common challenges.
Here are a couple of insights from that discussion!
1. Deliver consistent, real-time data to teachers and students
The key to any successful education system or student journey is data. Data is a powerful tool that helps students understand their performance and enables teachers to proactively monitor a student’s behaviour and progress. In other words, data enables students and teachers to take action in every student’s education journey.
However, data is only powerful if it is consistent, accurate, and presented in real-time. For example, if a student completes an exam and the teacher grades it and puts it into the system, the student should be able to see that information almost instantaneously. And if a student only attends class two times a week, teachers should have easy access to such data, as it can help them better support their students.
2. Incorporate new technologies and experiences more easily
Higher education is no longer confined to the classroom; in fact, one report shows that 1 in 4 students now pursue education online. Technology has provided the educational sector with new and creative ways to learn––from pursuing an online degree to learning through a mobile app.
The innovative technologies above represent new opportunities for the education journey, however, it also brings challenges to IT departments. This is because IT teams must build a system infrastructure that is decoupled, flexible, and agile in order to better support emerging education channels that further the learning experience––whether it is an AI-powered chatbot that answers common student questions or an IoT-solution that personalizes the virtual learning experience.
3. The future of IT in education
Advances in technology present multiple opportunities in education, especially in terms of the benefits they bring to students and teachers. However, one common theme that emerges in the above insights is the role of system integration. In order to deliver consistent, real-time data, IT departments must unlock data in underlying back-end and front-end systems and ensure that personal records, transcript records, attendance records, and other data are integrated and presented in real-time to students and teachers alike.
Similarly, integration also plays an important role in enabling higher education organizations to more easily incorporate emerging technologies. By building a flexible and agile IT architecture, organizations can plug-in new applications and systems to deliver more innovative education experiences.
Overall, being able to utilise new emerging technologies is critical to success in education. A flexible IT infrastructure translates to systems that can seamlessly integrate with one another and, in turn, provide the digital experience that is expected now and the evolving expectations of the future.