A report by Destiny Solutions on the nature of higher education indicates that future changes are likely and at a much more rapid pace than what has been experienced in the past. Over the past thousand years higher education has not changed much but in the past 20 years has capitalized on technology to create a much more transformational environment. This environment requires new tools to master and organizations are in the process of developing these tools. The very paradigm by which colleges operate is starting to change create new possibilities and hazards.
The demographics of the student have changed. A total of 73% of students are considered non-traditional in that they are generally not fresh out of high school and may hold a job. Some of them work part time. The trend in non-traditional students appears to be continuing and colleges will need to adjust their practices to meet these unique needs.
At present there are over 9 million adults over the age of 25 enrolled in college. There is a latent market of up to 80 million non-traditional students that may be interested in going back to school to earn degrees, update skills, and obtain certificates. There are approximately 6,900 accredited higher education entities within the United States and students are no longer bound to a few in their area.
Higher education is seen as a service to many of the 78% of shoppers who use online services and shopping. They expect the same levels of service and quality as they might find in a number of other services. This connection between higher education and the service industry will create new challenges for colleges that are working under older paradigms. Students will browse and research available college education ranging from MOOCS to full educational programs.
The report suggests a number of new improvements are necessary for colleges:
Search Engine Optimization: 60% of students search online for information about colleges.
Rich Experience: Once students have found a potential college they will need to have a rich experience that draws them from the website to enrollment.
Personalization: The students desire to personalize their experience and colleges should start considering their needs to be unique in an online environment. Personalization encourages 70% of shoppers to make purchases.
Trustworthy and secure: 52% of data breaches that involved hackers were in higher education. Such universities will need to protect their data from theft or misuse.
After reviewing this report it does become apparent that education is beginning to adjust their approaches to the high data and high convenience needs of its customers. Such colleges are no longer bound by specific locations or time frames. Yet students are seeking higher quality and service within their experiences. Making the information easy to find, creating personalized and interactive college experiences, and protecting student data/research from misuse are important. However, it is also important to consider the potential of integrating service related research into the design of online educational practices and its potential on student retention and success. Service and IT management research is available for integration and capitalization.
You may obtain a copy of the report HERE