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Digital Transformation in Education

Fernando Cuevas.
Executive Director, Diaspora & Development Foundation.

The Educational market has been facing ongoing shifts in the method in which education is being delivered.  In our history, to part from the formal implementation set forth by the reforms rendered by Horace Mann in the mid-19th century, the methodology used for teaching was that of a faculty creating a lesson plan and executing with students in the classroom.  They tracked attendance and progress via a grading books, and they measured student success and identify those that were struggling visually in the classroom and or through test results. 

As technology evolves, so does education. There currently is a digital transformation taking place within and from education, which is broadening the conception of education, its purpose and its transmission. We can attest that technological advances, beyond elevating the reach of education and its productivity, are in fact enabling and empowering Faculties to use classroom time more efficiently, given most of the work is being completed long before the students arrive to class. Whether its virtually or in person, these technologies provide valuable reciprocity and data analytics that professors can use to determine student engagement and commitment.

Students have the capability now, to further dissect content by exploring additional supporting data and information tools that enables them to better understand topics, beyond the immediate presentation provided to them. Printed manuals, work or textbooks, with recycled diagrams, stagnant images and one-dimensional thought, which were a staple to the education industry and the sole source of providing a unified system of learning, are a thing of the past.  Often, the content of certain books became outdated over the years, let alone semesters, and institutions, due to budget constraints, had to use those outdated textbooks. Digital transformation allows a platform’s content to be updated on an ongoing basis and provide our students and faculty as well, with the most up-to date information.

Student participation, understanding and engagement continues to improve year over year as the usage of these platforms increase.  Institutions that have a Digital transformation taskforce are leading the market given they can truly impact student experience; therefore, they are expanding retention and improving graduation rates. 

From a Diversity and inclusion standpoint, companies have conducted surveys to measure the impact on the students that may not have the resources necessary to be successful.  Data shows that over 40% of minorities, struggle with  the changes happening in education because their parents are not aware of the digital transformation, and the institutions are not supporting them with regards to providing the tools and resources necessary to complete assignments via their respective Learning Management Systems.  

In the United States, most higher Education institutions are being federally funded based on the performance of their students. Not only an economical and functional incentive but also an educational one. Regardless of size, all education centers should be able to provide the unified concept of technology as an underlying asset to their education proposal.  It is why all colleges and universities are focused on exploring opportunities to further reach students even outside of their normal channels of recruitment. 

During the COVID absence we all lived between mid-March and the beginning of 2021, educational institutions saw enrollment spike to unforeseen figures. In many cases growth of over 70% within their online offerings.  Now many in the industry would claim that this significant growth was a result of all schools moving to online learning because of the pandemic. However, experts say that this will be the new normal.  As of today, most institutions are contemplating and analyzing data to determine what they will do this coming Fall and beyond. Some believe that we will go back to in classroom learning and things will fall back to how we were pre-pandemic; however, digital transformation, is forcing the change the shift to more online learning versus in classroom.  As in every industry, when swift changes show themselves, some lag, some stay behind, and others completely disappear. In the end, those willing to adapt and understand that the bottom line sets the pace for advancement and implementation of novel and efficient processes and systems. Education is not any different.

Higher education institutions are now looking at the possibility of marketing to students outside of the United States because with online learning, the reach is worldwide.  A student in Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia, India etc. can now get a degree from a US institution without the need to request a student visa and or even travel to the US. For the institutions, they pay a higher tuition. and the enrollment is much needed since enrollments are down across the US.

A survey conducted by S&P Global noted that 10% of the institutions do not have a Digital transformation strategy and over 45% of institutions are still either considering and or evaluating if they need one.

Key takeaways

  • Digital transformation is an ongoing process and many institutions have yet to begin.
  • Industry leaders are becoming more data driven and focus on automation.
  • Processes should be managed as strategic assets designed to enable competitive advantage.
  • IT service providers are packaging platform services that are designed to continuously drive outcomes.
  • Having a robust Digital transformation strategy will provide and enable automation of processes and provide analytics that will enable for more efficient data driven decisions.

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