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The changing atmosphere of higher education: Harness the power of cloud

Technology is shifting the delivery of higher education. Moving to the cloud can simplify IT structures and free up resources to enhance digital learning.

Overview

Higher education institutions are facing major challenges in how they teach and interact with the new age student. Not only do they have to deal with increasing budget constraints, but they must also stay at the digital forefront in order to retain and recruit students. The wave of the Internet of Things (IoT) will further compound this shift in what students expect from colleges and how they will learn.

By 2020, there will be an estimated 26 billion smart devices in use around the world. Now is the time for colleges to change how they do business. They must make structural changes that will balance financial limitations with the need to employ the technology that students bring into the classroom.

Gartner. 2013. “Gartner Says the Internet of Things Installed Base Will Grow to 26 Billion Units By 2020.” Available online at http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2636073.

This paper explores how cloud computing can help higher education institutions simplify their IT structure and reduce associated costs, allowing them to redeploy these resources to handle the wave of IoT technology on campuses.

Background

Current college budgets fall short in covering the costs of traditional IT legacy systems. Funding for state-supported schools is on average 23 percent less per student than before the 2008 economic downturn. Furthermore, schools have hit a ceiling in their ability to raise tuition and still retain and recruit students. Accenture’s 2014 Global Value of Higher Education survey found that 74 percent of college students said that the cost of higher education needs improvement.

In addition, students want to learn in new ways and are demanding the use of more digital tools in the classroom. They increasingly rely on mobile devices, social networking and sharing sites, streaming media and digital texts for information. Face-to-face learning is shifting to a more collaborative self-led learning model.

The financial constraints, compounded by the demand for more digital learning, are rendering legacy IT systems unsustainable. Maintaining the current systems will only drive cost pressures and limit an institution’s ability to deploy new capabilities. The spread of IoT technology may be the breaking point for colleges to change how they do business.

Analysis

Students are demanding that universities employ more digital tools for a more enhanced and personalized learning experience. Higher education institutions can meet that demand by moving to the cloud and freeing up resources that can be used to prepare for the transformation of education that IoT will bring.

A move to the cloud will not only provide financial savings, but college IT departments will become more efficient and productive. These combined savings can then be used to develop services and capabilities that will meet students’ digital demands and support colleges’ mission to educate. Cloud computing removes typical IT constraints and gives colleges the capacity to handle IoT technology. So not only do they meet the digital demand, higher education institutions will boost their competitive edge in innovation, allowing them to develop curriculum that encourages active learning. In essence, by removing typical IT constraints, the cloud allows colleges to do what they do best—teach.

Recommendations

Accenture research shows that 89 percent of current students still find face-to-face learning with teachers and tutors effective for learning. Furthermore, 59 percent of students and recent graduates pursue a higher education to gain skills needed to get a job after graduation. The challenge is to create the right atmosphere to meet the technology needs of today’s students. To respond to the reality that current IT legacy systems are unsustainable, higher education institutions should:

  1. Look to students for digital forecast—Students are bringing up to four devices to the classroom, along with expectations on how and when they want to use them. The rise in IoT technology will on campuses will oblige universities to employ more digital tools for a more enhanced and personalized learning experience.

  1. Prepare for the IoT storm by moving to the cloud—It is time to take the financial and structural pressure off of college IT staff by removing the burdensome costs of maintaining current IT legacy systems. The cloud can reduce both operating and ownership costs and improve efficiency.

  2. Redeploy resources to stay at the forefront of digital learning—The savings from cloud computing will allow colleges to invest in more digital tools, giving them the capacity to handle IoT and develop better curriculum that will motivate and excite students.

By harnessing the power of cloud computing, colleges and universities can spend more time focusing on teaching and improving higher education performance in the digital age to deliver public service for the future.

Infographic

The Benefit of Moving to the Cloud

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