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Digital Learning Drives New Appreciation of IT in Education

Deidra Peterson Specialist, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 23 Mar 2021

Survey respondents are moderately or very confident that the changes in the operational (84%) and the strategic (82%) influences of IT will continue post-pandemic.

Like other industries, the education space is transforming thanks to new technologies that are driving digital transformation projects and creating a new era of education. These technologies are enabling innovative approaches to education, allowing institutions to deliver better, more personalized, and more engaged learning experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation efforts at many institutions, as traditional learning models were cast aside for digital alternatives.  It required a new approach to technology, from the devices educators and students use to the networks that enable digital experiences to the software that connects the learning community.

For many, that meant investing in new infrastructure – network switches, Wi-Fi controllers and access points, monitoring and management solutions, and of course devices.  Inherently, it also meant schools have had to rely much more on their IT infrastructure and staff to deliver quality education.

It’s not surprising, then, to learn that 66% of representatives of higher education institutions in North America say that, since March 2020, have seen an increase in the operational influence of IT in their organizations.  Likewise, more than half (56%) say the strategic influence of IT has increased.

It’s a logical change given the role of IT in how teaching is enabled in both virtual and hybrid environments.  In order to make these new models work, school leadership has had to rely much more on IT as a partner than ever before in order to support new services and tools, including digital classroom technology, collaboration tools, streaming capabilities, one-to-one and one-to-many interaction, and more.

Furthermore, the similarity in responses regarding operational and strategic objectives isn’t surprising, given the increased visibility IT has in a digital environment.  While the IT team operates behind the scenes, it is seen as the “connective tissue” of the institutions and a key stakeholder in moving to remote and hybrid teaching and learning.

It’s also important to note that, overwhelmingly, there is a high degree of confidence that the increased role IT is playing will remain in place post-pandemic, both operationally (84%) and strategically (82%).  As organizations in most other industries have already acknowledged, while many technology initiatives were created out of necessity during the pandemic, they have drive demonstrable benefits and will become part of their cultures permanently. 

As one respondent noted, “The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, and the faculty now understand better how technology can improve their students’ experiences and help them manage their teaching activities.”

The survey was conducted by EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit organization helping drive the impact of IT in higher education.  We are part of the EDUCAUSE community and work collaboratively with higher education institutions and their IT providers and integrators to ensure they have the network infrastructure and tools in place to support a new era of digital learning.

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