Universities Went Online As A Result Of The Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is devastating higher education. Campus closures this spring sparked a hasty shift to “remote learning,” which exposed the dispersed adoption of superior educational technologies and digital capabilities across thousands of schools and universities. There is now even more pressure on American schools and universities as a result of the turbulent fall semester, which included cancelled campus openings and vastly different online and blended alternatives.

The old higher education economic model was widely acknowledged to be significantly threatened prior to the epidemic. The pricing and value proposition of higher education are being examined by students, educators, and government leaders alike through a new prism that contrasts traditional classroom instruction with a variety of digital delivery methods starting in the fall of 2020.

Numerous Prestigious Colleges And Universities, Including Princeton

University, Williams College, Spelman College, and American University, have significantly reduced tuition for their entirely online programs in a historically unprecedented way, bringing attention to pricing issues and unleashing a Pandora’s box. After a ten-year expansion of postsecondary alternatives like “massively open online courses” (MOOCs), industry-driven certification programs, and coding boot camps, this has happened.

The “time after,” when digital, online, career-focused learning became the focal subject of rivalry between institutions, is likely to be remembered as the pivotal juncture between the “time before,” when analog on-campus degree-focused learning was the norm, and this one.

When it comes to converting to a more digitally-driven, outcomes-focused business model, higher education has notably lagged behind other industries. The fact that fewer than 5% of college budgets are set aside for IT expenses is one indicator of this.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, while one-third of all U.S. college students had some experience with online learning prior to the epidemic, the other two-thirds continued to attend conventional campus-based lectures, which have not altered much since hundreds of years ago. Given that education is one of the least digitized and most dependent on human labor,

There Is A High Potential For Technological Disruption

As a result of the events of 2020, higher education’s long-overdue technological revolution has been quickly expedited. It now places a greater emphasis than ever on technology- and analytics-driven online learning experiences and business models.

The digital transformation of postsecondary education is being increasingly driven by start-up businesses and private money, like in many other economic sectors. The first half of 2020 saw $4.5 billion invested globally in detach, which is three times more than the average 6-months of VC investment over the previous ten years, according to investment analytics firm Hloni. A large portion of this expenditure is concentrated on higher education and how it intersects with the labor market. Education has lagged behind other businesses in establishing a capitalized “industry” to support it, like finance and healthcare, but those tendencies are now quickly catching up.

Algorithm-Scaled Next-Generation Online Learning

In 2020, online learning became the norm, although the method used by the majority of universities is still essentially “remote learning” via live Zoom classrooms, which is not much different from video conferencing from the late 1990s. A range of potent new platforms and technologies, based on cloud computing, huge databases, and artificial intelligence, have, nevertheless, developed in the multibillion-dollar market for completely online courses and degrees. Machine learning is used by MOOC systems like Coursera and Edda to automatically grade assignments and deliver adaptive content and assessments utilizing data from tens of millions of students and billions of course data points.

Innovative universities like the University of Illinois are upending the graduate degree market by using technology to scale programs to thousands of students at a discounted cost of $22,000 for an entire M.B.A., forcing the institution to retire its traditional residential degree program. The ground-breaking $7,000 online master’s in computer science program at Georgia Tech recently reported that enrolment for this autumn had surpassed 10,000 students. There are already more than 50 MOOC-based degrees available in the world, several of which provide even deeper discounts. Additionally, new business-to-business (B2B) channels are being opened up through direct relationships with employers as a result of the consolidation of numerous universities, their courses, and programs under a single distributed platform. By providing Netflix-like opportunities for students to earn transferable college credits or other certifications for a monthly subscription, online education providers like Straighter Line and Demi are advancing this trend even further.

Student Support and Teaching Driven by AI and Analytics:

AI, SMS messaging, and machine learning are also having an increasing impact on improving student services and support. Similar to for-profit companies, many universities are starting to use AI-based catboats to support students and respond to their questions. These Chabot’s can be integrated with learning management systems to enable blended use cases that give student service staff access to data, or they can use pattern recognition to guide students through important deadlines for enrollment, admission, and course registration. These strategies are also being used to digitize campus services through the use of smart speakers in student residences. 

These advances in basic self-service make higher education more customer-centric while lowering expenses. Even organizations like Georgia Tech, which was the first to deploy an AI-based teaching assistant in its online degree programs, are utilizing AI. More broadly, a lot of colleges are spending money on predictive analytics, which is made possible by the data produced by online learning activities, but which frequently depends on access to outside consulting specialists and datasets.

Universities Went Online
Universities Went Online

Aligning Education-Workforce through Data-Driven Credentialing:

Another significant trend is the rapid digitization and proliferation of educational credentials. This refers to the swift transition from static educational records and transcripts—previously a very analog process that focused on degrees—to online, digital credentials that are centered on certificates and certifications that highlight achievement, skills, or competency. The “unbundling” of degrees into shorter-form micro credentials that can stack into a larger lifelong curriculum is a trend that is being driven by employers and industry certification programs, working in partnership with community colleges, extension schools, and university graduate programs. Numerous prestigious business and extension schools have welcomed this trend and the fresh sources of income that new varieties of digital credentials represent.

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