Digital Trends in higher Education

Some of the most important trends impacting higher educational institutions include big data analysis, AI, and digital communications. Big data and AI are able to gather and analyze data that can help them pinpoint specific pain points and increase the personalization of their offerings. On the other hand, the increased digital communication with students through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can help them increase the engagement and retention rates of their students.

1. Increase in Big Data analysis

  • Data analytics platforms are able to collect, manage, and analyze crucial metrics like student success rates and retention rates, which can help universities improve in those two critical areas.
  • Universities have used the data to pinpoint the critical areas of struggle for students so that they can intervene before it’s too late.
  • Big Data analysis has the “potential to enable institutions to thoroughly examine their present challenges, identify ways to address them as well as predict possible future outcomes.”
  • For instance, it can help institutions pinpoint pain points in the course curriculum and make it easier for students to find the courses they like.
  • Several universities have already started experimenting with such applications.
  • Dartmouth College created a smart app that can predict the fluctuation of a student’s GPA based on their studying patterns, sleeping routine, exercise, and face-to-face interactions.

2. AI

  • According to BusinessWire, AI will grow at a compound annual rate of 47.7% from 2018 to 2022 in the educational sector.
  • Universities are uniquely placed to develop an AI-powered platform that will help them “anticipate enrollment trends, optimize recruitment efforts, and elevate academic performance.”
  • AI also has the power to greatly facilitate the enrollment process and introduce personalization into the enrollment process.
  • For instance, Bryant University recently used personalization to provide targeted content and calls-to-action to international and female students, which was able to improve their reach and boost the overall enrollment conversions of the university.
  • AI tools can also be set up around the university campus to answer simple student questions, which can greatly help first-year students feel less lost.
  • More importantly, AI can be used as a way to help professors deal with repetitive questions.
  • A professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology created an application using the IBM Watson platform that was able to answer over 10,000 AI-related questions, without the students recognizing that it was an application and not their teacher answering the questions.

3. Increased use of digital communication with students

  • According to research by comScope, students spend 60% of their time on their mobile device.
  • As such, it is extremely important for institutions to be engaged with their students on social media.
  • Facebook and Instagram have been the go-to platforms for social media engagement, but TikTok has become hugely more popular in the last several months, with over 41% of GenZ preferring the application over other social media platforms.
  • To respond to this trend, universities have started to create accounts and engage with their students by creating short tours of the campus, posting videos about the daily life of a student, highlighting activities and events, working with student influencers to promote their content, and setting up hashtag challenges.
  • TikTok itself has also done a lot to promote learning on its platform by setting up education initiatives, like the #LearnOnTikTok challenge, and paying universities and higher education institutions to create and share short videos of educational content.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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