Why Universities & Colleges Must Go Digital To Remain Relevant

University Leaders Need to Keep Up With Rapid Changes in Technology to Meet The Expectations of Today’s Digital Generation

The somewhat precipitous proliferation of today’s digital technology is leaving many in the education sector to wonder how to keep up. The stark changes in how we operate in our daily lives is all due to our relationship with new forms of, and ever-increasing and innovative, digital technology.

In an article entitled “Digital Natives: 4 Ways Technology Has Changed ‘The’ Student”, author Chanel M. Sutherland, Marketing Content Specialist for eXplorance, argues that today’s students are what’s referred to as “Digital Natives”, and universities and colleges need to understand, acknowledge and change to meet the expectations this “net-generation” in order to stay relevant.  

“For higher education institutions the digital demand is real. In order to stay relevant, colleges and universities must adapt their systems to meet the unique and evolving needs of this new breed of learners,” Sutherland writes.

Vice-chancellor Martin Bean of the Open University said in an interview with Times Higher Education: “Universities in the UK risk becoming irrelevant and would be acting irresponsibly if they fail to embrace new education technologies,”

So, How Can Universities And Colleges Adapt to the Ever-Changing Digital Tech?

In the world of education, conventional wisdom has students sitting at desks, facing a teacher who stands at the front doing his or her level best to impart knowledge. It’s a model that has endured for literally thousands of years.

“As the Open University has proved over the past four decades it’s not the only way to teach – which is just as well, because in the 21st century, students are demanding new, more engaging ways of teaching and learning,” Bean states.

To best identify with these “Digital Native” students, these new ways include:

  • Instant Feedback: This generation of students grew up with technologies (e-mail, the internet, cellphones, and Facebook) that allow them to connect with the world instantly. Naturally, they expect the same instantaneity when it comes to their education.

  • Different Interaction: Social media has revolutionized how we communicate. While learners of the past valued face-to-face meetings, today’s students prefer to connect via email and text messages.

  • A Say in Their Education: Technology has put digital learners in command of their lives. Therefore, they also expect to have a voice in their learning process.

  • An Interdisciplinary Approach: Gone are the days when topics were organized into subjects and subjects into departments. The twenty-first century learner is eager for information and want to learn beyond traditional subject boundaries.

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