Expert Insights Into the 2024 Higher Education Landscape

Modern Campus Launches Personalization Engine for Higher Education ...

As we step into the mid-way point in 2024, the higher education industry is bracing for a wave of transformative changes. Below, several experts from higher education tech company Modern Campus collectively paint a future where traditional educational models are rapidly evolving. The burgeoning adoption of microcredentials promises a more flexible and competency-based learning landscape, tailored to meet the ever-changing needs of the workforce. Higher education institutions are expected to pivot significantly, focusing more on aligning their offerings with industry requirements and enhancing the overall student experience.

Peter DeVries, CEO

Amrit Ahluwalia, Senior Director of Strategic Insights

Keith Renneker, VP Sales for Modern Campus Connected Curriculum and Modern Campus CMS

David Cashwell, VP Sales for Modern Campus Lifelong Learning

Andy Gould, VP Sales for Modern Campus Student Engagement Suite

Chad Rowe, VP Product for Modern Campus Lifelong Learning

Kim Prieto, SVP Product

From the accelerated adoption of microcredentials to the strategic role of IT leaders, and from the integration of AI to the focus on student engagement, these changes reflect a broader shift in educational priorities and methodologies. Higher education institutions must adapt to these changes, balancing innovation with the enduring values of accessibility and quality education. In doing so, they will not only meet the evolving needs of students and the workforce but also lead the way in shaping a future where education is more adaptable, inclusive, and aligned with the ever-changing global landscape.

EdTech, AI, and Mental Health: Improving Student Learning, Improving Students’ Lives

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Esan Durrani

By Esan Durrani, co-founder and CEO, Study Fetch.

Students in high school now have already lived through two global economic crises, and live in a world that is literally burning at a record rate. They must handle all of this while also coping with the normal chaotic ups and downs of adolescence can be overwhelming. Into this maelstrom, students are supposed to shuttle from Geometry to Social Studies and maintain focus on their studies.

The chaos of the post-pandemic world only adds to difficulties, as it has seen an increase in an already rising percentage of students dealing with mental health problems.

Some of these problems arose in part due to the remote and hybrid learning necessitated by the global pandemic. While undoubtedly better than no learning, students are still recovering from that ‘learning loss.’ Furthermore, the social cost of such extended isolation cannot be fully understood as it has no modern point of comparison. In order to put students back on track, and best position them to succeed in the future, any solution must take into account both the mental and the educational barriers our students face.

Fortunately, just as remote learning software mitigated the damage, proper investment in and uptake of available technology can put student learning back where it needs to be. 

After the pandemic many school districts transitioned into hybrid learning systems, and educators had access to information about different learning styles previously unavailable. During and after the pandemic, Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled learning allowed educators to create personalized and inclusive learning for their students, progress that we must continue to build on.

Elements of the remote and hybrid learning implemented during the pandemic must be replicated because without embracing the available technological resources, we are not giving our students the learning opportunities they deserve. Effective teaching must include any and all available resources to support students dealing with ADHD and other mental health issues, or anything else that may impact their learning experience. The increased use of educational technology (EdTech) has a long way to go to meet the need, with 71% of students strongly agreeing that EdTech helps them engage with course materials. Greater access to EdTech helps broaden access and equalize student learning, while AI-enabled platforms can maximize the benefit those students receive.

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Teaching Nursing Students to Think Clinically with Realistic Instructional Tools

Tim Bristol

By Tim Bristol, director of strategic planning, NurseThink, Wolters Kluwer Health.

The ever-worsening nursing shortage is taking the United States by storm, with nearly 800,000 nurses planning to leave their roles or retire by 2027. Unfortunately, nursing education is not immune to this crisis.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that 8.8% of faculty positions are vacant at U.S. nursing schools and additional positions would need to be created to meet student demand. Without enough faculty, this has a serious impact on the capacity and effectiveness of nursing education programs as nursing schools are already being forced to turn away qualified applicants. Fortunately, while faculty shortages won’t be solved overnight, advancements in instructional technology can help fill the gap.

One key challenge facing nursing education is that the curriculum is not set up to teach students in a way that mirrors real-world practice. While new nurses today will often face greater challenges – and often higher caseloads – than ever before, nursing students are not being adequately trained to face this reality. In many ways, today’s nursing classrooms look no different than the classrooms students may have encountered in 1993. But a lecture hall looks very different than the chaotic hospital setting new nurses will actually experience. To help ensure students build skills and engage in clinical judgement, even if faculty numbers are limited, incorporating electronic health records and virtual simulation into their daily education can make a major difference.

Electronic health records are not optional

While electronic health record (EHR) systems are a highly discussed technology across the healthcare landscape, they have been shown to reduce errors and lower medical costs. Needless to say, EHRs are here to stay across healthcare and something that care teams need to use, every day. However, they can only positively impact healthcare as a whole if nurses are trained to use them effectively and efficiently before they encounter them in clinical practice.

It’s important for faculty to understand how easy it is to implement EHRs into the daily classroom experience. Students could simply login to a basic, blank EHR and enter data based on a case study or challenge given by their instructor. For example, students could be tasked with entering a blood pressure reading that would indicate that they should hold (not give) a patient medication to lower their blood pressure. When faculty allow students to experience this type of activity, they are learning in the same way in which they will be using EHRs in practice. This is something that could easily be incorporated into nursing classrooms, even in a lecture hall of 100+ students.

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From Chaos to Control, Tackling Device Tracking with IT Asset Management In K-12 Schools

Syed Ali

By Syed Ali, founder and CEO, EZO.

In today’s digital age, technology has become an integral part of the education landscape. K-12 schools are increasingly relying on technology to enhance teaching methods, improve student engagement, and streamline administrative processes. Although the investment is necessary, the rapid pace of technological advancements brings with it significant challenges.

During the COVID pandemic, millions of K-12 students across the US relied on borrowed devices from their school districts, with Chromebooks being the most common for remote learning. Schools rapidly adopted Chromebooks in 2020, as the demand surged during the transition to remote or hybrid learning models, resulting in millions of students receiving laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks from school districts nationwide.

Fast forward a few years, and now, many K-12 districts are still scrambling to account for all those devices, year after year. This includes not only locating and recovering missing devices, but also making sure clear policies and procedures are in place for future distribution, collection, liability, and insurance claim filings for those devices that can’t be found, as well as budgeting time and staff to inspect and repair any tablets that do come back before they’re redistributed.

Take for example the 77,000-student Greenville County, S.C., school system which made headlines during the summer of 2020 when it revealed that it had been trying to recover nearly 5,000 of the more than 58,000 Chromebooks that were distributed to students during that school year.

Another example comes from the Chicago Public School District. The district reported that computers and other devices that amount to at least 8% of the Chicago Public Schools’ “technology assets” had been listed as “lost” during the pandemic. Also, the district said it had depended on its schools in the district to take a regular inventory, but that the process continues to be time-consuming and inconsistent as only 35% of Chicago’s 500 district-run schools have a technology coordinator on staff.

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Transact Campus Partners with Luxer One for Secure, Frictionless On-Campus Package Delivery

Transact Campus, “Transact,” the award-winning leader in innovative mobile credential and payment solutions, today announced a partnership with Luxer One, a premium manufacturer of package management systems and smart contactless lockers, owned by ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in access solutions. This partnership will deliver a turnkey solution for on-campus package delivery, including hardware, software, installation, service, support, and package delivery company facilitation.

The Luxer One partnership addresses campuses’ desire for a versatile and secure package delivery system, enhancing the student experience by providing a reliable, around-the-clock package pick-up service. Use cases beyond package management include laptop and lab equipment exchange, library holds, bag and personal item storage, and pickups from the student bookstore. In addition, the partnership includes configurable integration with Transact Campus ID solutions, enabling students to access lockers using their Transact Mobile Credential or physical credential.

“At Transact, we are committed to transforming the campus environment into a place where innovation thrives and the campus experience is seamlessly connected,” said Rasheed Behrooznia, SVP and General Manager, Campus ID Solutions, Transact. “Our partnership with Luxer One not only provides a superior, frictionless student experience, but also strengthens the security and connectivity between students and client facilities.”

Prior to the partnership with Luxer One, students were constrained by limited package pick-up hours and had to endure long lines, or risk their packages being left unattended. Luxer One significantly reduces costs associated with staffing a mail room for extended hours.

“This collaboration represents a significant milestone for Luxer One as we continue to innovate and enhance our offerings for valued customers. By joining forces with Transact, we are combining our expertise and resources to revolutionize the way universities manage packages, item exchange, library orders, and even temporary bag storage. Together, we will deliver unparalleled convenience, efficiency, and security as a full campus solution. We are excited about the endless possibilities this collaboration brings and look forward to the incredible advancements we will achieve together,” said Josh Middlebrook, President, Luxer One.

The partnership will provide a secure, convenient, package delivery solution on Transact-enabled campuses which reduces the burden on administrative staff and enables efficient management of daily operations. In addition to the primary benefit of a frictionless student experience, this union also provides secure package delivery assurance, and reduces costs for campuses.

Ransomware’s Prime Target: Securing Educational Institutions

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Anthony Cusimano

By Anthony Cusimano, director of technical marketing, Object First

In recent years, ransomware has become the most destructive cyber threat impacting industries of all sizes –in the first half of 2022, there were over 236 million ransomware attacks worldwide. Threat actors have launched ransomware attacks on various targets, including businesses, hospitals, supply chain infrastructures, and education systems, to extort money in exchange for stolen data.

According to a 2022 year-end report, schools sustained the same number of ransomware attacks in 2022 as in 2021, with the most significant attack being Los Angeles Unified School District, which included over 1,300 schools and 500,000 students. While the goal of educators is to establish secure learning environments for students – be it through online or in-person education – far too many are faced with the challenge of ever-increasing ransomware attacks that makes safeguarding IT environments to ensure data protection difficult.

Education systems shouldn’t have to suffer the continuous data theft and extortion that the past few years have burdened them with. By incorporating affordable ransomware-proof tools, these organizations can ensure the safety of backups and effectively defend against ransomware attacks without paying the ransom.

Why the education system continues to be a prime ransomware target

Schools have a wealth of sensitive information about their students and faculty on hand for cybercriminals to target. This includes information such as financial aid records, birth certificates, behavioral records, and addresses that, if left unprotected, can be stolen and sold on the dark web.

Ransomware attacks pose the most significant cybersecurity risk regarding operational disruptions and overall expenses for K-12 schools and districts. This is often because these school systems need more money and education to adopt proper security tools. Within school systems, allocating resources to defend against cyberattacks is restricted by a limited budget, resulting in inadequate IT infrastructure and smaller teams – further weakening visibility to detect potential threats before it’s too late. Because of this, when compared to other industries, the education system falls short of proper protection.

But that’s not all. While there are many reasons why ransomware attacks against education systems have been and continue to remain rampant, a primary reason for this surge is that the COVID-19 pandemic increased reliance on virtual platforms for students to participate in remote learning. This shift created an even larger threat landscape for an underprepared and under-resourced industry, expanding vulnerabilities while perpetuating increased data being stored electronically. This, paired with a strained IT budget and lack of dedicated resources to fight ransomware, has left schools open for attackers to capitalize on.

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4 Ways K12 Districts Use Tech To Connect with Families

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Lindsey Canny

By Lindsey Canny, copywriter, Skyward.

If your students, families, and employees had more options, would they still choose you? Take a lesson from the districts who already know the answer to that question because of their powerful online identities.

By building your district’s online presence through technology, you encourage ongoing engagement from students, employees, and parents. You stand out to your community and communicate a strong culture. Dive in to a trove of examples in four core platforms.

  1. District website

Your website is the first place the community turns to for finding information about the district. Make sure they like what they see by taking the following into account:

  1. Social media

Building a social media presence keeps brand messaging in your own hands. Keep the focus on school culture with these in mind:

  1. Videos

Videos offer viewers a way to peek into your community’s day-to-day life and culture. Here’s how to put your district’s best image on display:

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Modern Campus Recognizes the Best Higher Education Websites of 2022

Modern Campus - Serent CapitalModern Campus, a provider of higher education solutions for driving student enrollment by attracting, engaging and converting students, recognized eight colleges and universities for excellence in website design and management.

These eight winners were chosen from more than 700 postsecondary institution websites powered by Modern Campus Omni CMS, the only content management system purpose-built for higher education. The winning websites were recognized for their effectiveness at providing students with informative content and engaging user experiences, driving conversions, maintaining interest, and improving enrollments.

In no particular order, the Best Higher Education Websites of 2022 are:

Since the website is the front door to an institution, it plays a crucial role in driving student enrollment by attracting, engaging, and converting students. It’s one of the first places that prospective students visit and serves as an important touchpoint in their enrollment decision.

Modern students expect higher ed websites to be optimized for their phones, deliver personalized experiences, and showcase the return on their higher ed investments upfront. They also prefer to experience the campus virtually before applying for it, found a recent study of higher school students conducted by RNL.

“Colleges and universities have been leveraging their websites in innovative ways to improve their prospective students’ digital experiences,” said Kimberly Prieto, vice president for product at Modern Campus. “On behalf of Modern Campus, I’m really excited to recognize the institutions that are leading the innovation and accomplishing specific goals with their websites. These websites share the very best of what the institution has to offer in a highly engaging manner.”

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Ensuring Schools Have An Effective Cloud Infrastructure Can Enhance Learning

By Gloria Zhang, director of cloud programs, ASCENDING.

The dramatic shift over the last few years in the way students learn may have kickstarted the move to more technology-driven classrooms and remote learning, but the clear advantages to students, educators and parents that came as a result of that digital leap have led education leaders across the country to keep pushing forward with technology infrastructure investments.

Cloud computing allows educators to collaborate more efficiently, improving the student and teacher experience by streamlining internal processes, such as assigning homework, accessing school resources and creating lesson plans.

If approached correctly, it can cut costs for schools, increase the security of student and teacher data and create a flexible IT environment that adapts to changing data storage needs.

However, while IT leaders may be eager to make the transition, schools must approach the process cautiously, developing a plan and obtaining qualified personnel to ensure they receive the benefits that so many other organizations have experienced.

Take the time to plan

Transitioning workloads to the cloud is not easy – IT leaders must ensure they are aware of what systems they’re looking to improve internally and the challenges they face. Without a plan, leaders run the risk of compromising student and teacher data and overspending on the cloud, eliminating many of the cloud’s benefits.

Planning starts with an analysis of the current environment. IT leaders must examine their current on-premises workloads and identify any existing issues, so these are not transferred to the cloud environment. By evaluating the current landscape, the team can also determine what they are trying to achieve in the cloud and how they would like to close these gaps.

Assessing on-premises workloads will also give the migration team a good idea of how much data they are moving, how long the process will take, and how much it will cost. With new students entering the classroom each year, understanding the timeline and how to ensure minimal downtime for operations is crucial for schools looking to migrate without disrupting classroom learning. For example, schools may wish to perform the majority of the process in the summer when students are at home.

This planning phase should also include a strategy for moving the data. While the workloads can be transferred all at once, it’s often better to shift the data in pieces, starting with those not vital to daily function. Transferring non-critical data allows IT teams to identify errors in the process early on and fix them before moving data more essential to daily classroom learning.

Once these factors have been evaluated, leaders can move forward with ensuring they have all components necessary to ensure sustained success.

You will need help – hire qualified cloud professionals

Many school IT teams are not equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to ensure a cloud migration is smooth and completed correctly.

It’s important to realize that the cloud poses many unique challenges, and while an individual may have several years of IT experience, it does not mean they are equipped to handle a cloud migration.

Experienced cloud practitioners can proactively address issues by establishing cybersecurity or error alerts and know how and when to utilize unique tools such as cloud formation to avoid common mistakes made during migration, allowing systems to transition smoothly from one environment to another.

Cloud practitioners are essential to the cloud migration process – especially when supporting uninterrupted learning and handling the personally identifiable information of children and teachers. To create an effective cloud team, schools should partner with IT staffing firms to evaluate candidates’ abilities against the school’s unique requirements. This streamlines the selection process by identifying the most qualified individuals with the necessary technical skills.

Implementing the services the cloud has to offer can be intimidating, but the shift improves efficiency, enhances student and teacher experiences, and reduces the threat of data breaches and cyber threats.

The cloud also increases elasticity, so schools can adapt as student enrollment and data needs grow or decrease. But to ensure all these benefits, cloud migration must begin with a carefully thought-out plan and hiring a cloud team.

Artificial Intelligence In Schools: Look Past Hesitations To See Opportunity

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Melissa Smith

By Melissa Smith, vice president of education, Glowforge.

Do we fear the robot or do we embrace it? When it comes to the topic of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) in schools, the question is usually met with a split response. While you may love or hate the technology, the reality is — it’s not slowing down any time soon. In fact, AI in schools is projected to grow by 36.0% in the next eight years. Knowing this, the key is to keep an open mind and work to understand the applications of ethical AI within the school system. 

Before we dive in, let’s piggyback on a prime example of a new-to-market product that shook up the old: 3D laser printers.

A little over a decade ago, kids had two options; art or tech class. The latter still had woodworking involved. So, when 3D laser printers came on the scene, strong opinions persisted. However, in time, it became clear to all that 3D laser printing mechanisms didn’t stifle creativity, in fact, it inspired – and made the ‘tech’ in STEAM more accessible than ever before. 

By giving students the tools they needed to create physical objects, 3D laser printers were bridging the gap between art and technology. Years later, this bridging is as important as ever before given careers in STEAM fields are in high demand.

Ms. Gonzalez, a high school art teacher in California, shared her thoughts on how a leading laser 3D laser printer, Glowforge, impacted her classroom. She says it has been a game-changer for my students. It’s given them the opportunity to explore their creativity in new ways and has opened up doors for them in STEAM fields. I have students who are now considering careers in architecture and engineering, which is really exciting to see.”

As you can see: In time, the hesitations fade, and the benefits take over. 

With that, let’s approach ethical AI with the same open mind today.

Here are six ways ethical AI can help educational systems from teachers to students:

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