Technologies influence on Higher Education

by Artur Meyster

Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the role of online education. Several governments have promoted the idea of a new way of teaching characterised through online lectures, exams, and conferences. Because education is a vital sector in the nations’ economy, it is fundamental to understand the impact of new technologies on Higher Education and possible future scenarios.

College campuses are more tech-savvy than ever before. Schools are using technology to increase the impact they will have on their students’ lives. Many of the tools used by college students will be the same they use in the workplace after graduation. 

Technology offers multiple avenues for change in the education industry. There is a solid chance a student starting college today will have a paper or assignment graded by a computer program. The ease of video chats or instant messaging creates clearer and quicker ways for students to communicate with their instructors. Probably the greatest change for students is the ability to receive extra support or find answers they missed in class. 

Technology is also changing the way we think about higher education. Online learning makes it easier for people in the workforce or full-time parents to earn a degree without giving up on their other responsibilities. Education is available to more populations since it is becoming easier to access. Online certifications are giving professionals more opportunities to pursue career-enhancing educational pursuits. 

Employers Are Increasing Their Education Benefits

Professionals who want to take a leap into higher positions often resort to obtaining master’s degrees or MBAs to bolster their resume’s education section. Going back to school is both time-consuming and costly. The two problems contradict each other as well. Those who want to take time off work to focus on their degree and finish quicker face money problems since they are losing their income to go to school. Those who keep their day job take longer to get their degrees because they don’t have as much time to work on their coursework, which delays their graduation date. 

The solution to these problems is coming from an unlikely place, employers. Companies are realizing the desire for employees to continue their education. Instead of losing ambitious employees, companies are becoming more flexible with work schedules and offering tuition assistance benefits

These benefits aren’t only for salaried employees at corporate offices but also for hourly workers at national chains like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Lowe’s. Offering tuition assistance benefits attracts employees that are dedicated to furthering their career. Many of the schools these employees attend are online through schools that partner with employers. 

Tech Literacy Gaps Are Still Hurting Students

There is no doubt that technology is helping teachers and students experience success in the classroom, but in order to use technology, students and teachers must be capable of navigating through multiple layers of technology. Even in a world where everyone is already using apps and mobile devices, there are still significant digital learning gaps that prevent students from realizing the full potential of online learning. 

These gaps are more likely to affect students in low-income areas where tech is less prevalent or students with disabilities who can’t access tech because it hasn’t been made accessible to learners with unique needs. 

Students matriculating to their first year of college have to learn multiple new computer programs in order to submit homework, access virtual lectures and communicate with group mates for projects. Many universities incorrectly assume that incoming students have the prerequisite skills to successfully navigate the technologies that might be new to them. Students from schools lacking in technology will struggle more than students from affluent, well-funded schools. Additionally, not all students come directly from high school; non-traditional students pursuing their associate’s degree might not be familiar with technology on campus. 

To address these concerns, it’s important for colleges and universities to offer introductory courses or other methods of assistance to help students who don’t have a strong technological background. 

Are Professors a Thing of The Past?

The rise of self-paced courses is helping students navigate their busy schedules to find time for learning and also allows those with completely free schedules to complete courses more quickly. Some of these courses are already published and don’t require any interactions with a professor. Students can quickly earn online bachelor’s degrees without ever being in the same room as another human. The rise of automated grading software could eliminate teachers at some colleges.

Even though technology is assuming some of the same roles, it can’t replace teachers. There is a very slim chance that teachers will lose their jobs to automation because courses need to be created, vetted, and updated by experts for quality assurance. Even though online courses are a great resource for colleges, there is still an innate value in in-person learning.