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The technology shaking up higher education in 2024

In the wake of the pandemic, university and college campuses have transformed to redefine the modern campus experience. Central to this transformation is the adoption of new technological innovations aimed at empowering universities, students, and educators to shape a stronger future in higher education.

However, while students have quickly adopted new technology into their educational careers, such as genAi (Generative AI), many universities and colleges are finding it difficult to fully understand and integrate these technologies into their current systems and processes. Below, we explore the technology driving modern learning environments, its benefits and drawbacks, and strategies for higher education institutions to navigate and embrace the technological revolution in 2024.

Artificial intelligence shaking up higher education

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has had a profound impact on the world, particularly with the rise of generative AI (genAI) tools such as ChatGPT. In fact, a recent Best Colleges survey of 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students revealed that 56% of college students admit to completing assignments using AI—an impressive and somewhat startling statistic when we look at how recently AI was introduced.

The excitement surrounding AI and its potential to transform higher education demonstrates new possibilities that could revolutionize various aspects of teaching and consequently reshape how students learn, enabling them to enhance their academic work. This year, we foresee higher education institutions moving into a pivotal juncture, with open questions necessitating a deeper understanding of how AI will integrate within the higher education landscape for professors, students, and faculty alike. Below, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of AI in an academic setting.

The positive side of AI in higher education

AI has a positive impact on higher education institutions by allowing them to create personalized learning experiences that cater to individual student’s needs and learning styles. This could include adaptive learning systems using AI algorithms to analyze students’ performance data, identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, and deliver customized learning materials and interventions. This approach not only enhances student engagement and comprehension but also promotes retention and academic success.

Beyond the classroom, we foresee AI facilitating improved operational efficiency, utilizing AI-powered predictive analytics tools to analyze data that can help forecast enrollment trends, identify at-risk students, and optimize resource allocation. Additionally, we expect AI-driven systems to aid in the facilitation of administrative processes such as admissions, course scheduling, and financial aid distribution, reducing administrative burden and enabling staff to focus on strategic initiatives this year and beyond.

The challenges posed by AI

Because higher education institutions have typically been slow to evolve along with emerging technologies, we expect AI to bring forth several challenges this year. The first challenge will encompass student inequalities in learning. Although AI holds the potential for delivering highly personalized learning experiences, it also runs the risk of exacerbating disparities among students by widening knowledge gaps, particularly if access to AI tools is limited to specific groups or institutions. Moreover, AI implementations have the potential to deepen existing gaps or introduce new ones, underscoring the importance of integrating AI in a manner that is both inclusive and equitable.

The second challenge focuses on the potential decline of critical thinking and creativity, which are fundamental aspects of higher education. By prioritizing efficiency over profound understanding, AI tools raise apprehensions about the impact on students’ learning experiences. There is a fear that graduates may become overly dependent on technology for their work and comprehension rather than developing a genuine understanding of the material.

The final pressing challenge lies in data privacy and security, an area that also affects industries outside of higher education. The proliferation of AI systems’ collection and analysis of vast amounts of sensitive student information raises ethical dilemmas and regulatory concerns that must be considered – both for this year and beyond.

Gen Z students hold new technology expectations

Growing up in the digital era, technology has become integral to the lives of Gen Z students, serving as the cornerstone of their daily existence. Consequently, they expect the same level of technological advancement in their academic endeavors as well as in their personal lives.

Gen Z students aspire to an educational experience that transcends conventional boundaries, providing opportunities for hands-on experiential learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the practical application of knowledge in real-world scenarios. According to findings from Hanover Research, 91% of Gen Z students assert that the ability to engage with cutting-edge technology would heavily influence their job selection among similar employment offers. Therefore, it is imperative that their academic journey not only enrich their minds but also equip them with the skills to apply their knowledge effectively in real-world contexts, making it an important area of investment and understanding for higher education institutions this year.

The future of higher education

The swift development of technology has seeped into our daily lives, resulting in increased expectations among students and faculty regarding its incorporation into academia. As tech-savvy, Gen Z students seek institutions with a forward-thinking mindset and a grasp of modern technologies, they aspire to use these tools not only in their education but also in their future careers.

In response to these changing demands, 2024 is poised to be a year of significant technological innovation on college campuses. Higher education institutions are proactively seeking to understand and integrate these advancements on campus, setting the stage for an exciting year in higher education.

Download our white paper to learn more about our predictions for higher education in 2024.

HE 2024 forecast