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How Can You Ensure You’re Choosing the Right Higher Education Technology Solution?

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This spring marks the fourth year since the onset of the pandemic, and if higher education could identify the most significant changes to its landscape in the past four years, it would be those wrought by the adoption of education technology. As the benefits of modern technology to college campuses has become clearer and more institutions have begun to digitally transform, a surprising trend has emerged: Those in charge of making technology decisions for their institutions may not always be making the right ones.

Poll students and staff on any campus and you’ll discover at least one technology purchase that failed in some way—poor implementation, difficulty with integration, issues with user training and adoption, or simply a bad fit. Given this, it shouldn’t be surprising when a recent survey revealed that fewer than half of administrators were confident in their ability to choose effective education technology solutions for their institution. So, how can administrators go about making more informed technology decisions?

Audit Student and Faculty Technology Experiences

How easy is it for students to access information, email, or submit financial aid documents? How many steps does it take for faculty to transfer a student’s grade from the learning management system to the registrar’s system? Do they have access to early alert workflows if a student begins to struggle academically? To make the right program decisions, administrators need to have a holistic view of how education technology impacts their campus, faculty, and students.

As a college’s mission centers around students, it’s important that administrators have a clear understanding of how education technology is impacting student success and the faculty’s ability to support that success. Administrators need to engage in regular audits to determine how and when student and faculty needs change and whether the current technology is supporting those needs.

Perform Technology Audit With Staff and IT

How long does the degree conferral process take? What tasks are HR still performing manually? How easy is it to integrate the financial aid system with the student information system? Many campuses have taken a patchwork quilt approach to building their tech stack, allowing different departments to invest in different systems that solve different problems. This has resulted in myriad issues, among them data integration issues as well as technology redundancies (e.g., where a college is paying for two systems that can do the same thing).

Performing a technology audit with staff is another step in gaining a full picture of the technology situation on your campus. Is your staff happy with the current campus tech? Any concerns from staff should be considered alongside faculty and student concerns when determining technology investments.

Getting the perspective of IT staff is a particularly important step, as they can shed light on any potential integration issues or redundancies. With so many technology solutions available, it’s imperative that administrators work alongside IT teams to identify what type of technology can best solve an institution’s challenges. If an administrator has a holistic view of campus technology needs and can pair it with the expertise of their IT teams, the chances of finding the right solution for the institution grows. Not only is your IT staff likely to have a network of peers at other institutions that are able to speak to competing technology systems, but they’ll know which questions to ask vendors when it comes to determining a solution’s efficacy.

Bottom Line: More Data Equals Better Decisions

This conclusion seems like a no-brainer, but it’s clear that there are still many institutions that aren’t yet asking the right questions or gathering the data they need to make technology decisions. It could be that the more information is gathered, the more obvious the need for changean often disruptive process. But asking the right questions will help identify campus technology challenges, which in turn leads to selecting the right system. And having the right support system in place can make all the difference.

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