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Meeting student demands: Transforming your university to match students’ digital lifestyles

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In a world where the use of technology has become commonplace, students are seeking to attend universities whose digital profile matches their own.

It’s critical that institutions of secondary education are meeting the needs and requirements of the modern student. Has your university undergone a digital transformation to fit these needs? In this blog, we are going to break down what it is that students are demanding, how universities across North America are undergoing digital transformations (Dx), and how AppsAnywhere can align universities’ Dx and students’ digital lifestyles.


What do students want?

In a recent article published by Education News Canada (ENC), research has proven that four out of five students want their post-secondary education to mirror their modern, digital lifestyles. The generation of incoming and current higher ed students, grew up in a high-tech world filled with social media, ride-sharing apps, and countless food delivery services. They’re familiar, rather conditioned to having everything they need at their fingertips with the click of a button. It’s not surprising that they expect their post-secondary education to be the same.

KPNG, a leader in delivering audit and advisory services across Canada, surveyed over 1,000 Canadian post-secondary students, ages 18-34 to learn how Higher Ed institutions can best provide for their students. Their findings were remarkable; however, in today’s day-in-age not surprising…

KPMG SurveyResults
C.J. James, Partner and National Education Practice Leader of KPMG Canada says “Our poll research shows students want and expect more. Over the next decade, students will become even more diverse, digital, and deliberate in their decision-making, putting pressure on higher education institutions to design and deliver a more personalized experience that encompasses the student as a learner, a digitally savvy person, and a customer."

The first poll result that will catch your eye states that 80% of students want “an educational experience that matches [their] digital lifestyle”. We live in an everchanging, innovating world with new technologies to be found at every turn. Students, especially those who fall within the 18-34 age gap are at the forefront of technology; therefore, it makes sense they want their educational experience to sit within the same playing field.

It’s been nearly 19 months since colleges and universities across North America made the initial switch to online learning, which also means it’s been 19 months of adaptation for students and HEIT. When campus doors closed in March 2020, colleges and universities needed to find a way to deliver the same educational experience online as they did in person. The world of Higher Education has proven it’s possible to not only undergo but thrive in a digital world. Online learning and virtual accessibility have instilled a new expectation from students…

Down pointed arrown

78% of post-secondary students agree the pandemic has ‘fundamentally changed’ their higher education experience expectations. If colleges and universities can provide digital accessibility in the pinch and under pressure during the pandemic, they should have the capabilities to provide the same experience now and in the future. 

After a full year of remote learning, Canadian post-secondary students expect their college or university to up their game digitally.

C.J. James, Partner and National Education Practice Leader, KPMG in Canada.

The results provided by KPMG demonstrate that digital transformation (Dx) is a sink or swim situation. Universities can either get on board with the change or risk their enrollment numbers decreasing as years go on.


Dx & the post-pandemic institution

As we discuss what students are expecting to see in their educational experiences, it’s important to highlight how institutions of higher education are undergoing this transition. EDUCAUSE premiered a new showcase series this past fall: “How Dx Powers the Post-Pandemic Institution”. Within the series, they break down the three D’s of digital transformation, describe the indications that your institution is on the Dx journey, and share helpful insights about Dx from their Quick Poll.

To start, digital transformation (Dx) “is a series of deep and coordinated culture, workforce, and technology shifts that enable new educational and operating models and transform an institution's business model, strategic directions, and value proposition,” writes Malcolm Brown of the EDUCAUSE Review.

To best understand Dx, it’s beneficial to recognize and indicate the three D’s – digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation.

  • Digitization is the transition of analog information and resources to digital forms. No longer will students need to sift through disorganized binders looking for their syllabus or lug around a heavy-weight textbook to and from the library. Everything they need can now be kept organized online in a digital space.
  • Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to enhance individual institutional operations such as payroll, research, and the best one yet…course delivery.
  • Digital Transformation is the institutional strategy to shift technology to enable new educational models and transform the strategic direction of the college or university.
Three D's of digital transformation

Aside from keeping your students happy, you may ask yourself: ‘what are some of the other benefits of undergoing a digital transformation?’.

"Dx can make institutions more resilient, flexible, and relevant as they face an array of increasingly difficult challenges that include declining student enrollment, increased public skepticism, and skyrocketing student debt,” writes Brown in the EDUCAUSE Review article, Digital Transformation Signals: Is your Institution on the Journey?
EDUCAUSE Review QuickPoll

While we know the increase of a matched digital lifestyle is a key factor for students when seeking post-secondary education, how many of these Higher Ed institutions are providing that experience? In the EDUCAUSE Quick Poll, they found that “today, a plurality of IT leaders (44%) report that their institutions are engaged in Dx, with another 27% reporting that they are developing a Dx strategy”. 

There isn't a doubt in anyone's mind that the pandemic and campus closures have increased the need for a digital transformation. As we can see by the graph on the left, "more than three-quarters (79%) of respondents reported that the pandemic has spurred Dx at their institution to a 'moderate' or 'large' extent, while less than 1% of respondents reported that it hadn't sped up Dx at their institution at all.


How AppsAnywhere aligns university tech with students’ digital lifestyles

Deliver software a better way; As we’ve seen in the research by KPNG, modern students need a way to access their coursework how and when they want. The first step towards achieving this goal is to provide students with an online platform that they’re familiar with. Every current and incoming student knows how the app store on their phone works, can easily log in to an online platform, and access Wi-Fi almost anywhere on campus. If there were a way to incorporate software applications and coursework into this format, then you’d be one step in the right direction towards aligning an educational experience with their everyday, digital lifestyles.

AppsAnywhere on Mac

AppsAnywhere provides a simplistic, familiar, one-stop-shop for students to launch software applications on any device they want, from anywhere on or off-campus, at any time. AppsAnywhere is an app store-style platform that gives students access to all the software they need. It provides Higher Ed IT a way to deliver all their software from one place to any device, including Windows, Mac, and Chromebooks while meeting key strategic IT initiatives such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). As we’ve seen, providing equitable access to academic software for all students on any device is no longer a luxury but a standard. AppsAnywhere can be your first step in mimicking students’ educational experience with their digital lifestyles.


Ready to try AppsAnywhere? Book a demo today to see how we’re providing students with what they want and enabling Higher Ed institutions to undergo a digital transformation.


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