Technology for Learning Today: Future-Readiness and Cost-Effectiveness

This is the third and final article in a series on the future of education and how educational institutions can best provide for students’ and educators’ needs as we move ahead.

Whether the students of the future will be gathering in lecture theatres, online, or in hybrid sessions that include both kinds of attendance, one thing is certain: the technology that universities and colleges provide must be ready to support all these new forms of education.  

Technology must now form the foundation to support consistently high-quality education experiences in the long-term. And, with that in mind, it’s crucial that any investments educational institutions make are the right ones.   


Preparing for whatever tomorrow brings 

With the prospect of an increase in remote learning even beyond the pandemic, universities must be ready to cater for all kinds of new scenarios. Seminars and lectures may now include remote participants – from overseas students attending online every time to local students joining remotely on a regular or sporadic basis.

If remote learning was a rare occurrence, or only needed for a finite period, then less-than-stellar experiences might be acceptable. A few technical hitches, logistical difficulties and teething problems might be forgiven as being par for the course. But when remote participation is a firm fixture, embedded alongside ‘traditional’ means of attendance, less-than-stellar is less than acceptable.

‘Good enough’ isn’t good enough 

This means that whenever remote learning needs to be supported, whether scheduled far in advance or last-minute, the technology must meet the challenge. And it’s better to be safely confident today rather than discover your institution isn’t prepared later down the line. 

Remote learning replaced on-campus learning as the primary method of delivering education – due to sheer necessity rather than preference. Rather than a long-planned strategic move, it was driven by the urgent need to deliver education by any means available. But, going forward, remote learning has transitioned from being a stopgap into a firm fixture of the education landscape.  

Will this device help us cater for large numbers of remote students if needed?

Can we rely on this device for good experiences if sessions ever go ‘full-remote’?

Is it based on a leading platform that will continue being updated and improved?

If the answer to all those questions is ‘yes’, you’re off to a flying start. Or rather your future is.  


Putting your investments in a practical context 

Just like any other organisation in today’s challenging economic climate, educational institutions face the pressing imperative to make their budgets work as hard as possible. In a perfect world, every university would love to kit out their seminar rooms and lecture theatres with top-of-the-line equipment, but for most that’s just not feasible.  


As a result, you need to think strategically in terms of how you’ll deploy the technology investments you do make. When considering a device, run through these three questions: 

What will be the most valuable and/or most common uses for the device?

In which spaces (e.g. seminar rooms or lecture theatres) will it be used?

How can you best coordinate your spaces, devices and usage?

Thinking about all your technology investments in this context – place and usage – means you’ll quickly arrive to some conclusions about the types and quantities of devices you need. And that will help you to prevent against over or under-investing.  


Making your budget go as far as possible  

Flexibility should not be underestimated when choosing your education tech investments. If you invest in a cutting-edge interactive whiteboard but bolt it to the wall of a small seminar room with little seating capacity, you’ll probably miss out on its potential to deliver value elsewhere. But if you choose a device which offers a high degree of mobility, it can cover a lot more ground – both literally and figuratively.  


If educational institutions invest in technology which can be moved fluidly, easily and conveniently wherever it’s needed, they have a far greater chance of consistently meeting the needs of hybrid sessions, with students attending both remotely and on campus.  


If a hybrid seminar needs to be supported one day, in a specific room, but the required digital display is firmly embedded somewhere else, it will either require a change of plan or extra hassle and exertion for technicians – who already have more than enough to deal with. But when your technology is flexible, like the highly mobile Microsoft Surface Hub 2S, you have the agility necessary to be responsive, fluid, and to deliver the right education experiences every time.  


Technology investments you can rely on tomorrow 

It’s arguable that universities and colleges need to put even more thought into the technology investments they make now than they ever needed to before. The choices educational institutions make today will ripple along far into the future, defining the kinds and quality of experiences they can support for their students.  


Ultimately, making the right decisions will result in better education experiences for everyone – wherever, whenever and however they need to be delivered.  


If you’d like to explore this topic in greater depth, you can read our eBook, ‘Better Education Experiences for Everyone’. Or if you’d like to discuss how Academia can help your educational institution prepare for the future, just get in touch.


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