Digital Transformation in Higher Education

Posted by Andrea GronbergO

August 28, 2017

As higher education institutions increasingly find themselves competing for funding, students and academics, offering a unique edge is more important than ever. One way to get ahead is to distinguish your institution as a leader in digital innovation, a key area of focus among your stakeholders.


As we are now unequivocally in the digital age, every organization should have a strategy tailored to this new era, and that includes colleges and universities. However, there are several barriers holding academic institutions back from forming and implementing such strategies. In this article we will review the most common issues and share tips on how to overcome them.


Barrier #1: Lack of Vision

To stay relevant in the digital age, higher education institutions need a strategic vision that will enable all of its disparate departments to make progress in a unified way. The key to getting everyone on board is strong leadership, by an expert team who can confidently explain and implement their plans. A clear vision will make staff and stakeholders feel more involved and invested in the process of digital transformation.


Barrier #2: Too many priorities
A mistake that many institutions have made as they panic about getting left behind is to focus on too many different projects. This can lead to mediocre results as time and resources are spread too thin. Instead, begin by thinking about your institution’s particular goals, the skills and resources available, and what would most benefit the students, academics and staff. Choose the projects that would be most effective for your institution, and the rest can follow if and when they are necessary.


Barrier #3: Insufficient Technology Skills
Technology has already transformed the act of learning, and many tools have become invaluable to colleges and universities. However, these tools are a waste of money if you haven’t trained staff and students to use them. Many faculty members avoid making use of new technology that could make their lives easier and improve their work, because they lack the experience in using it. Similarly, not all students are as savvy in leveraging technology productively. Therefore training and guidance is important for all parties.


When it comes to digital transformation at an institutional level, you need to look beyond the technology itself. Buying some tablets and improving the Wi-Fi doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Rather, working with the IT teams, the broader faculty, and students will ensure everyone is fully prepared and united in the goal of adopting digital technology and processes, and establishing your institution as a digital leader.

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