Published on 2013/03/28

Five Ways Better Communication Will Change Higher Education by 2063

Five Ways Better Communication Will Change Higher Education by 2063
Improvements to data collection and analysis technologies will completely transform the higher education industry by 2063.

Looking 50 years into the future, there are a number of major changes I foresee in higher education. As everyone knows, the student demographics will be vastly different. Also, you will probably be hard-pressed to find a chalkboard anywhere. But I want to look at the bigger picture.

I think the most significant change to higher education over the next 50 years will be in how data is collected, organized and used by administrators, educators and students to improve efficiency at every level of an institution. This change will allow higher education institutions to consolidate their business and improve communication between colleges, departments and individual stakeholders. Even today, students seem to be searching out more personalized learning experiences.

The five changes listed below outline how institutions will be able to meet the evolving needs of learners through practices that will become common in 50 years’ time.

1. Improved Student Integration

By 2063, changes to technology will allow students to be more in control of their educational journey. They will have more control over their graduation date and the path they take to get there, with a great deal of support from the institution. Students will be able to inquire about, register for and pay for courses online with ease. Further, students will be able to request critical documentation — such as transcripts — at their convenience at the touch of a button. Ultimately, students will have greater access than ever before to the institution and to important information.

This won’t be a one-way street, though. Instructors will also have access to student histories — perhaps reaching all the way back to middle school — to get a better sense of a student’s interests, experience and expertise. This will allow educators to tailor the classroom to the needs of the student, all due to a better organization and use of available data.

2. Smarter Student Outreach

Netflix and Apple Genius won’t just be changing the way we find movies and music. In 50 years, similar technologies will have changed the way students find and register for courses as well. With better organization of information, institutions will be able to tailor course selections to individual students based on past courses students took as well as individual degree path requirements. This will be one step towards making sure courses offered by each department are visible to students campus-wide.

In addition, as data is collected on what strategies are most and least successful in driving students to enroll in particular courses and programs, marketing departments will have the ability to learn what is working and what isn’t. This means they will be able to do “smarter” marketing, meaning student outreach and engagement will only improve over the next half-century.

3. Better Program Development

As marketing processes and practices become more efficient over the next 50 years, so too will the processes and practices involved with developing programming. It will be easier for institutions to develop programs for both on-campus and online students as campus-wide resources and expertise will be visible to program directors at the touch of a button.

Additionally, as analytics related to labor market needs become more available, and as instructor schedules and expertise become centrally organized, it will be easier and faster for institutions to develop and deliver labor market-relevant programming. This means institutions will be better able to provide students with skills that will support their post-graduation job searches.

4. Enhanced Cross-Campus Service

The management of higher education institutions will be revolutionized by 2063 as the result of business consolidation through better organization of available data. Where three different departments might run similar or identical courses today, in 50 years, those courses will be consolidated. Scheduling courses will become a snap and inefficiencies such as unused lecture halls will go the way of the VCR.

Most importantly, there will no longer be inconsistencies in services offered to students from department to department or from college to college within a single institution. Institutions will become more uniform and students will know exactly what to expect when it comes to registering for courses or receiving important documentation, whether they’re dealing with the English Department or the Teachers’ College.

5. Enhanced Cross-System Service

By the same token, as major university systems look to develop system-wide online offerings (as evidenced by UC Online), business consolidation can help move this process along and make it more efficient.

Over the next 50 years, institutions will be able to offer a wider range of online opportunities to students system-wide, and students will have better knowledge of what opportunities are available to them. The consolidation would impact in-class students as well: institutions will be able to offer students at one system campus the opportunity to take courses at another, accelerating their time to degree completion. This enhanced communication among institutions within a system means the transfer credit issue many students face when it comes to taking courses at different colleges or universities could be alleviated. All courses will be in-system and it will be easy for students to see what counts as credit and what doesn’t prior to enrolling. It will be easier yet to designate the credit to a successful course completer.

What Does This All Mean?

Ultimately, by 2063, technology will have fundamentally changed higher education. We may move from traditional computers to tablets, and online learning may become as mundane as sliced bread. However, the benefits that technology will bring to the management of higher education institutions will fundamentally shake up the industry, and will make postsecondary education more palatable — and easier to navigate — for all students.

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Readers Comments

Vera Matthews 2013/03/28 at 11:11 am

While I support the idea of better cross-system service integration, I am concerned about the potential costs of implementing this type of system. Will the seemingly high costs deter some institutions, particularly the smaller or mid-sized ones, from this? If so, I wonder if cross-system integration has to be supported by an external body, such as a state government, to ensure it is implemented.

Ewan Philipps 2013/03/28 at 2:47 pm

It can make for a frustrating student experience to have multiple, sometimes contradictory, processes in place within the same institutions. And we’re no longer dealing with students who simply enter the system through one ‘door’ and stay within the ‘room’ (department, faculty) for their entire educational experience. With this move toward lifelong learning and differentiated platforms/delivery mechanisms, chances are that your students will take multiple programs on a variety of platforms, meaning they would be accessing your system through multiple channels. It thus becomes important to develop standardized processes across your institution.

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