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It's safe to say that technology leaders in higher education won't be bored in 2020. Many of the most pressing trends in IT are playing out in the university space. Colleges are leveraging artificial intelligence to drive student outcomes and adopting smart technologies to enhance campus efficiencies. On the defensive side, IT is battling a rising tide of phishing and ransomware. Here are five trends to watch in higher education IT in the coming year.
Using artificial intelligence to better inform human intelligence, higher education can prevent a winter of disillusionment and ensure tangible student success outcomes. Student success, in its various forms, is a top issue in higher education. Over the last decade, colleges and universities have worked to consolidate mountains of data into insights that can empower academic professionals to influence student success. Yet this cannot be accomplished using only human intelligence (HI). To facilitate an impact on student success, many institutions have employed artificial intelligence (AI) to help process and analyze data. AI, embedded in data systems, can allow institutions to better gather high-value data, monitor and uncover predictive risk indicators, and proactively respond to student behavior to promote student success. Despite the high capabilities of these systems, they cannot be sustained outside professional HI, which gives meaning and direction to data insights.
Over the last few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been gaining momentum across all industries and all spectrums of the world from consumer solutions such as Siri and Alexa leveraging Machine Learning to disruptive technologies such as Uber and Lyft as well as social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to the extreme side of quantum computing attempting to solve the world's biggest and most complex issues and challenges. Let's consider for a minute Higher-Ed including private and public institutions either for-profit or non-profit undergoing significant challenges in attempting to attract, recruit and ultimately enroll students across the globe in a highly competitive environment including a consumer (student) who is more educated as far as options available thanks to the internet, social media and other factors. This compounded with unsustainable tuition increases performed by some institutions as well as increased educational policy changes and regulations, are creating a challenging landscape for post secondary institutions across the nation. Universities and colleges have traditionally lagged behind the constant evolution and innovation of technology as compared with other industries and sectors. This has begun to change in particular driven by the current mainstream challenges and augmented with new generations such as Millenniums and iGen or Generation Z who have embedded in their DNA a digital world that Higher-Ed has yet to match and deliver on their expectations.
Colleges and universities have started using virtual assistants, chatbots, and other intelligent software tools to augment or replace student interactions with advisers or counselors and to provide some institutional services. Yet many faculty members still resist supporting AI, especially when it comes to delivering course content. I enlisted my colleague Nicole Engelbert, Oracle vice president of higher educational development, to help me assess and position the role of AI in academia. What follows are excerpts from our recent discussion. Rajecki: When I started in higher ed, the concern was that online learning would replace classrooms.