Education in Australia is at a crossroads. The pandemic sent all students online, but post the return to the classroom, educators are learning how to combine the best of face-to-face teaching with digital. Today, students seek an education that will prepare them for a quick, seamless transition into a career, and educators are looking for the best way to deliver on those demands.
As a result, education IT infrastructure has also had to change drastically. It’s no longer just about managing hardware or software - IT systems must deliver the technology and services enabling agile, efficient learning innovation.
While much progress has been made, many educational institutions find achieving effective digital transformation hard. This is because of challenges like limited IT budgets, decentralised computing and weak network security.
The drive to transform higher education
Schools and universities are increasingly relying on innovative programs and ideas to reinvent themselves. According to the OECD, countries with greater levels of education innovation see improved academic outcomes, as well as more satisfied teachers, but there is a catch: innovation can be expensive.
What’s clear, however, is students are demanding more digital education and, so ensuring those students and teachers are connected and provided with opportunities through immersive hardware and software is essential to build brighter futures for learners.
So how can education IT leaders improve student and institutional success through IT initiatives, including bringing digital transformation to the campus experience? There are several ways this can be done:
- Saving capital and innovating smarter: Over the last few years, schools and universities have had to reshape budgets quickly and drastically, with many having to reduce overall spending. When a company can consume IT on a pay-per-use, as a service model, it’s easier to track which projects are or aren’t working according to plan. In turn, this helps companies know where and where not to commit additional funds. Using this model, institutions can provide all their primary functions via a self-service catalog. This enables agility, efficiency, security and effective management of digital resources.
- Cybersecurity transformation: Cybersecurity threats and network security are continually top priorities for CIOs in education. In fact, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), education was the third most-targeted sector for data breaches in 2022, although it has fallen out of the top five in 2023. It’s, therefore critical for institutions to build a holistic strategy through campus security solutions designed to protect people, information, and physical components.
- Data storage and management: Data is becoming increasingly decentralised. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and kept outside a traditional data centre or cloud by 2025. The influx of student devices and an explosion of data are putting enormous demands on IT resources. Intelligent automation and integrated compute clusters can empower academic institutions to streamline data management and reduce operational expenses. This ready access to data provides a vast array of digital tools and resources for both students and teachers.
- Powerful cloud technologies: Remote and hybrid learning makes the cloud a necessity to deliver the types of solutions and services that facilitate seamless virtual interactivity between instructors and students. Cloud services help create significant cost and operating advantages such as helping academic institutions reduce capital, enabling rapid scale-up and scale-down capacity to enhance IT agility and the data centre running to pursuing more strategic goals.
- Connected campus: To better engage students in the classroom, the use of interactive, collaborative technologies, coupled with innovative teaching practices, can transform learning environments. These products include large-format displays, projectors and interactive displays. In addition, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and video conferencing solutions enable access to IT resources and distance learning no matter what device is being used. VDI provides a clear, simple path forward, including secure access to up-to-date applications and course resources while maintaining a familiar and productive user experience. It also helps address immediate needs for dynamic allocation of IT resources, holistic security, and technology access for an increasingly remote student population. Because of its inherent design, it also serves as a foundational technology that many schools leverage as part of their long-term digital transformation strategies.
- Technology that enables creativity: For technology to positively impact learning, educators need devices and systems that help reinvent the learning environment and promote creativity. Take Esports for example. With the gaming industry set to exceed $US300 Billion as reported by Accenture, students are increasingly looking to pursue a career in the sector. With some schools and universities now offering eSports scholarships, competitive teams and new degree programs, eSports presents exciting opportunities for student engagement and growth.
Getting the digital classroom right
By harnessing new innovative technologies, leaders in education can do more than simply sustain education – they can transform how students learn, and teachers are supported. The sweet spot for EdTech occurs when the technology is fit for purpose and students and teachers know how to use the technology and get the most out of it. For this to happen, the digital foundations must first be in place, something requiring nuance, vision and collaboration with the aim of always putting students’ success first.