The technology race to reshape the University and College student experience

March 09, 2021

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The student experience at colleges and universities has changed beyond recognition over the last 12 months, and as we emerge from Covid, the pace of transformation is likely to continue. From creating an engaging remote teaching environment to ensuring students are able to physically attend lectures as safely as possible, to looking after young people’s mental health, higher educational institutions have much to consider.

With change comes opportunity, and the ability to positively reshape their student offering while accelerating commercial rewards might be easier than expected. The secret of success could be the continued adoption of higher Educational Technology.

Serving students with technology in higher education

Young people have a lot to navigate and the adoption of new technology is quickly making their day-to-day lives easier. From ride-sharing apps to wearable health monitors and the ability to keep an eye on their finances online, the ability of students to perform daily functions with a swipe or even at the blink of an eye has become a demand as well as a reality.

But many universities and colleges have not kept up with the pace of technological change, resorting to long-established ways of doing things rooted in history and cherished traditions. Covid has started to change that, and there are some good examples of how NashTech is already helping to dramatically enhance the way higher educational institutions operate:

1. Transforming the Open Learning Platform at The Open University.

OpenLearn platform has become an integral part of The Open University in the UK. Attracting over 8.5 million visitors a year, it hosts nearly 1,000 free courses and provides more than 11,000 hours of learning content. NashTech has enabled OpenLearn to be fully optimized for mobile, with an improved user experience and greater security for all users. New features and implementations to further enhance the learning experience are under development.

2. Rapid deployment of new career guidance platform for U-Explore. 

U-Explore is a UK-based EdTech company specializing in career guidance. Aiming to ensure that every young person has access to the best information, U-Explore provides advice and opportunities to help shape the future of young students, regardless of who or where they are. When NashTech became a critical development partner for U-Explore, they were able to build an exceptional new platform tool for content management and introduce advanced microservices architecture. NashTech also helped U-Explore identify new target audiences and use cases for the platform, using an adaptable, agile delivery model to quickly include new features while helping U-Explore to assess and decide on the best approach for them.

The next generation student experience – Education Technology solutions

While some higher educational institutions are at a relatively early stage in the EdTech journey, others are exploring innovative ideas to shape the future of college education. Sandbox ColLABorative, an arm of Southern New Hampshire University, is a good example. By allowing students to explore creative ideas to shape the future of higher education, they are able to test theories around learning languages using VR or incorporating AI teaching assistants. In turn, the university is able to enhance the student's remote learning experience, matching their skills with jobs and, importantly, lowering their costs.

Four transformational higher EdTech solutions are currently under the spotlight in many US colleges and universities as they accelerate their digital journey:

  • Student experience applications. Development of a suite of portals and applications across the student journey, covering admissions, student information systems, loan applications and accommodations
  • Virtual learning environments. Comprehensive custom learning management solutions, leveraging both bespoke features, plug-ins and integrations to enrich platform functionality, as well as cloud migration and comprehensive testing services
  • Invigilation and assessment tools. Artificial Intelligence powered services to validate participants in online exams, with multi-point verification including image recognition and key-stroke pattern detection
  • Data-driven decision making. Data capture and analysis tools to enable better decision making across the organization. These tools will help to recruit students, analyze and predict student behaviors and understand student patterns. One application of this type of technology is to help in spotting the signs and managing student mental health challenges, enabling the provision of effective support

As higher education becomes increasingly competitive, the race is on to develop additional value add, easy-to-use technology. The ability to both enhance student outcomes, enable universities to do more with less, leverage data and diversify revenue streams are critical goals. 

Seizing the moment to transform

According to the World Economic Forum, the Covid pandemic has changed education forever.

With the growing realization that in the long-term, digital capabilities are core to survival, this school year will mark a major inflection point for America’s universities and colleges. Digital transformation is no longer a ‘nice to have.’  Universities have to fight for student dollars.

At NashTech, we deliver solutions across the entire student journey with our agile, solution-focused approach, leveraging mainstream and emerging technologies to build custom software products that are robust, scalable and secure. As a trusted technology partner, we work in close collaboration with you to ensure you realize the value of the software earlier. We are here to help.

If you are interested in knowing more about how we use automated intelligence to enhance user experience, check out our latest eBook below or get in touch today to find out more.

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