Aug 27 2020

3 Ways to Increase Tech Adoption in Higher Education

Here are some key strategies to encourage tech adoption that supports remote learning.

Digital learning is the new normal now, and technology adoption is more critical to student success than ever before. But higher education IT professionals still see technology adoption as one of the biggest obstacles when supporting faculty and students during online learning.

According to a Twitter poll that EdTech: Focus on Higher Education conducted in June, 34.3 percent of respondents saw technology adoption as their greatest remote learning challenge.

As another difficult academic year drives new online learning challenges that may require more technology to address, here are some tips on how to help members of your university embrace the tech they need for successful learning outcomes.

MORE ON EDTECH: In a remote learning landscape, tech adoption has never been more critical. See why.

1. Show Why New Technology Will Benefit Everyone

Still missing the technology your department needs to ensure that online learning platforms are secure and running smoothly?

Tony Bates, the former director of distance education and technology at the University of British Columbia, advises CISOs to make it clear their department is not asking for new technology because it is the latest trend or because there are a few loud voices who want it.

To rally support from faculty, staff, students — and more important, the budget office — Bates recommends in his book Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning that IT leaders create strategic plans to demonstrate why everyone at the university will benefit from a particular upgrade.

The “priority of such special projects should be related to meeting functional objectives, such as more interactive student services, improved learning outcomes, or reducing operational costs, and thus should be determined as part of an integrated planning process,” Bates writes in the book.

At the end of the day, it is the CISO’s responsibility to make it clear that this request will address the university’s most pressing functional needs.

2. Focus on Improving Digital Literacy

Low digital literacy means low tech adoption.

The good news is that this problem is easy to solve. According to a 2018 EDUCAUSE report that covered higher education’s adoption challenges, improving digital literacy is one of the most straightforward challenges to resolve. But it will take a multifaceted approach.

“Due to the multitude of elements of digital literacy, higher education leaders must obtain institution-wide buy-in and provide support for all stakeholders in developing these competencies,” the report’s authors write.

The report outlines these steps for creating action plans to increase digital literacy at colleges and universities:

  • Assess current staff capabilities
  • Identify growth areas
  • Develop strategies to implement digital literacy practices

READ MORE: Learn from higher ed IT leaders who are driving digital workplace adoption.

3. Make It Easy for Faculty and Staff to Transition to New Systems

When higher education professionals feel reluctant to adopt new technology, each person will feel hesitant for different reasons. It is important to understand the thinking behind this resistance.

Do they think they will be better off with older tools? Is transitioning to a new system too overwhelming? Or are they simply unaware there are new tools and systems?

“Frequently … instructors either were unaware of the services available from learning technology units, or believed they could manage better without external assistance,” Bates writes. 

Sometimes, the solution is not more technology but more communication.

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