I’ve been working with colleges and universities for 30-plus years, first at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, and later at higher education-focused consulting and technology companies. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed a certain consistency in the criteria and business processes related to curriculum development, student enrollment, and records, regardless of the institution size or focus. These tried-and-true methods have served institutions well for years, but the rapid-fire changes across the higher education landscape are requiring colleges to take a closer look at the ways they’re serving students.
The student demographic has changed to include more working adults and lifelong learners than ever before. In addition to needing more flexibility in when, where, and how they complete their course work, they need a way to capture competencies and skills—not just pure coursework and grades—they’ve learned along the way. There’s also a push from students, parents, taxpayers, and the government for transparency and accountability related to their respective investments in higher education. Students assume they’re being adequately prepared for their careers of choice, while employers claim significant gaps exist between course credit and skills required for employment.
And if all that wasn’t challenging enough, institutions are coping with student bodies that expect to use their phones and tablets to access campus resources, register for classes, pay tuition and fees, plan their schedules, manage portfolios, and execute a host of other services that are nearly impossible to do using the legacy systems in place today.