We count on institutions of higher education to drive the next generation of just about anything. From the next generation of lawyers to doctors to bankers and beyond, it's the colleges that qualify our highly trained professionals. A new report from Ovum underscores this point, saying that the strategic role of information technology (IT) needs to be supported and actively grown by higher education.
The Ovum report overtly says what most have known anecdotally for some time: institutions cannot remain static in IT development and expect to survive as costs rises, affordability drops, and new technologies from for-profit alternatives step in to change the way we look at higher education in general.
IT in education will bring about a great many changes, according to the Ovum report, starting with changes in the delivery models for teaching and learning. We've already seen this starting to happen, and programs like those offered from The Center for Puppetry Arts are actively showing how real time communications can be most of an educational institution’s operations.
Even as far back as September 2014, we've seen how real time communications were helping to drive recruitment and education in general; Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) in particular were allowing users to connect from just about anywhere, allowing students to attend lectures from a kitchen table or most anywhere else with an Internet connection.
Developments like those will also be reflected in the notion of the student experience, and force colleges to reconsider using such strategies despite potential bottom line impact. With for-profit alternatives kicking in to put such low-cost strategies to work, and actively undercut standing universities in the process, colleges will be hard pressed to not force a bottom line cut to prevent the complete loss of that revenue. Many colleges will also turn to customer relationship management (CRM) and learning management systems (LMS) in a bid to make sure the student gets the most bang for the buck.
There's nothing particularly new about remote learning. I once saw a distance learning program at a local community college that depended on stacks of VHS cassettes of recorded lectures. Technology has advanced to the point where recording is no longer necessary, now merely useful; students can access a lecture from anywhere with a Web connection, and the sooner that colleges realize this point and adapt accordingly, the better off colleges will be in the end. Sure, there's a loss of the “student experience” involved, but this can be replicated with regular events on much smaller campuses. Profitability improves, and colleges stay open.
The price of a college education continues to soar past that which families can even vaguely afford without loans, so the opportunity for for-profit ventures to step in and do just that is enormous. Colleges must realize this, and put these same tools to use, lest even more is potentially lost.