2030 & Beyond: Campus of the Future | Relevance is Critical to the Future of Higher Education
Ever since Uber popped out of nowhere and completely transformed how people get from point A to point B, I have been asking: What will be the Uber of higher education? What disruptive technology will come along and do to colleges and universities what Uber did to taxis?
My thinking on this has recently evolved. Rather than one single Uber disruption, I fear the 'Uber of higher education' will be the perception that college is irrelevant, coupled with the confluence of many disruptive Ubers, all competing for students' attention and interests – and all leading potential students away from higher education entirely.
In light of this threat, I believe it is imperative for those working in higher education, especially those senior technologists who are the decision makers on campus – and who can bring new technologies directly into the hands of students, faculty and staff – to be knowledgeable of the critical role they play in communicating that the college experience in its best forms is relevant and essential to today's students. Those students, and even the faculty and staff now working with them, have grown up in a media- and technology-rich environment that often makes the college classroom seem staid and boring by comparison.
Although challenging, the need to project relevance through a media- and technology-rich user experience on campus is one of the most critical functions for technologists working to support higher education.
Colleges and universities are at a critical juncture to make the case for their relevancy to a population who likely doesn't subscribe to their parents' nostalgia for the college experience – and for whom many viable options to career without college exist like never before.
For much of higher education's history, the dominant narrative for why people should go to college has been predicated on prosperity. Higher education was seen as an engine of opportunity for high school graduates to advance their social class, acquire knowledge and skills, and learn what they value and how those values could improve their communities, as well as themselves. People went to college to 'get a better job' and 'have a better life' – even if the link between a college experience and that better life was sometimes opaque. Having a college degree meant something to graduates, their parent, and future employers and it is what drove undergraduate enrollment and allowed higher education to flourish.
The calculus for that equation is changing and changing rapidly. According to NPR, undergraduate enrollment in the U.S. for the 2018-2019 academic year is down for the sixth straight year. Colleges and universities are competing against a multitude of interests to keep students' attention and persuade them that a college degree, and the enormous personal cost associated with that degree, isn't worth the return on investment.
To that end, colleges and universities must convince potential students (customers, if we're being honest) that a college education is still relevant and, as importantly, that colleges and universities remain key to a better career and a better quality of life for individuals and communities.
The modern college student lives in a media- and technology-rich environment that is endlessly changing and which demands constant attention. In a persistently stimulating environment, people ask themselves: Is this worth my attention? What are you trying to tell me, get me to look at, push me to read or watch or buy or do? Why should I pay attention to you? What is the next shiny object for me to look at?
Today's media landscape has shaped all of us to be less tolerant of delayed gratification and the ambiguity of the message, whatever that message might be. Past generations might have been more likely to accept vague answers to questions of why things were done in school in a particular way. That has changed with the proliferation of options and competing messages. The pressure to change with the times is more pressing than ever.
I worry for the future of higher education when students ask (rightfully in many cases): What's the point of this? Why am I here when I could get a good job without all of this debt and time wasting?
I think those questions are often asked subconsciously, but I fear that collectively it points to the need for colleges and universities to do a better job mirroring the world outside of campus life to appear relevant to students; and then deliver an important educational experience that imparts the learning and development we know are important for creating good humans.
For colleges and universities to thrive in the future, they must convince students (and parents) that what they offer is unique, important, and relevant to a student's development and future success, usually in a career, but also for 'a better life'.
As smart homes, smart cars, and smart public spaces continue to develop, it is inevitable that university students, faculty, and staff are going to demand smarter campuses and a better user experience that parallels their experience of media and technology away from campus.
Planning for the future has already begun and the user experience of a brave new world is here. People in modern society, and certainly traditional-aged college students, are navigating their social spaces and deciding what those social spaces could and should look like. Classrooms, hallways, common areas, and living spaces are just a few of the many places on contemporary campuses poised to undergo a transformation when AI, AR, VR and wearables become more common and are woven into the day-to-day experience of higher education.
As designers and planners envision the next generation of smart, connected, intelligent buildings and campuses, they must consider the human behavior and user expectations (both individually and collectively) that will interface in their design. To do anything less threatens to confirm that higher education is irrelevant, and to starve future generations of the vital learning opportunities and communities that are key to better employment and enriched lives for all of us.
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Controlling a Building from Your Phone – OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE Platforms Arrive - 2/28/2019
The initial focus in mobile technologies was on meeting room reservations; then came lighting, heating and cooling, then access control. Over the last 24 months it has become apparent that there are many more occupant experiences that can be delivered via mobile phone. Managing parking, reporting maintenance issues, ordering coffee, scheduling an exercise class, viewing security cameras, and other applications were quickly added to the list. With so many options and approaches available, what are the best strategies for occupant experience? Build versus buy, functionality selection, solution integration and ongoing support are just some of the topics to be addressed by the industries’ most respected professionals.
Chuck Niswonger has over 30 years of successful leadership experience in technology-related roles that range from operating his own consulting company (www.nicenets.com) to directing the IT strategy of a real estate investment management firm to manufacturing and technology-enabled education. Chuck has also been the chair of the Realcomm Investment Management (IM) Advisory Council for the last ten years, managing content selection for the conference educational sessions, IM forums, workshops and webinars.
Matthew Lennan has been integrating IT and building system technologies for more than 30 years. He has developed and implemented computing infrastructures for global financial firms, major healthcare facilities, manufacturing, entertainment complexes and traditional smart buildings. Most recently, Matthew has been working in software development to refine the customer experience for smart buildings in Office, Retail and Residential environments. He is currently responsible for driving Innovation across Oxford Properties’ portfolio.
Jared Summers is a motivated execution-oriented high performance individual who has extensive experience managing large-scale global programs. He brings a unique ability to understand and articulate complex technologies in a relatable way while rapidly fielding innovative capabilities. Currently Jared is the Data, Analytics & Technology Manager at ExxonMobil, delivering on the promise of transformational change enabled by digital technologies across the entire global real estate portfolio.
Joshua has over 15 years of successful leadership experience with early-stage disruptive companies. He has an extensive background in property technology, focusing on amenities that drive tenant experience across commercial real estate, multifamily residential and student housing. Josh has lead national sales and support teams with an emphasis on customer success, brand recognition, and occupant experience.
Elizabeth Dukes is the Co-Founder and CMO of iOFFICE, the leading workforce-centric IWMS software and the first 100% SaaS platform designed for the Digital Workplace. Dukes drives strategy for iOFFICE and advocates for the confluence of people and technology that unleashes the full potential of the workforce and the workplace.
As Head of Sales, Nick is responsible for leading the sales organization including domestic sales, product implementation and customer success. Nick’s 20+ years’ involvement with technology dates to the 90s when Peapod did its best to teach him UNIX. Nick’s IT responsibilities over his various positions have included End User Support, System/Platform Administration, Business Continuity Management and Project, Facilities, Procurement, Contracts & Maintenance. Most recently Nick served as Vice President at Environmental Systems Design (ESD).
Matt leads the product development and roadmap strategy for Modo Labs. With broad experience across mobile and audience engagement, along with a customer-centric mindset, he is the company’s product leader for both Workplace and Campus solutions. Matt and his development team continue to enhance the Modo no-code platform, empowering higher education and enterprise organizations to quickly create personalized applications and ensure students and employees have access to the information they need most.