8 Top Trends Of Digital Transformation In Higher Education

8 Top Trends Of Digital Transformation In Higher Education
Summary: The process of digitalization has started among all the major industries. However, in this article, I would like to cover digital transformation in higher education. Those who have tried modern technologies in education report increase in the overall performance of higher education institutions.

Digital Transformation In Higher Education: The Current Trends

Digital transformation in higher education has its effect on 2 main business parts:

  • Services transformation focuses on creating new education products and transforming existing products into digital ones. This usually means converting offline lectures into video ones, creating digital texts and quizzes. Moreover, it includes providing digital means for communication between students and teachers.
  • Operations transformation would basically require a digitalization of all the common operations educational institutions have such as students' admission, registration for programs and courses, examination, program development, and their quality assurance. In addition, supporting services as study planning, facility management, teacher allocation, scheduling, etc.

Emerging Technologies In Higher Education

Internet Of Things (IoT)

Higher education managers are already making serious investments in the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have plenty of smart things around us from smartphones and watches to cars and houses. But what about a smart campus? IoT provides a lot of advanced data and helps to automate a lot of useful processes:

  • Intelligent thermostats can balance the temperature inside the building by adapting to the outside and inside situation. This will save money for universities and colleges and create a more comfortable environment for students and teachers.
  • Smart lightning. Replacement of traditional lighting to LED in their parking garage saved the University of Michigan-Dearborn $21,000 per year. A smart lighting system across the whole campus will save even more.

Future campuses can transform into mini smart cities by installing smart informational kiosks, tracking vehicle and foot traffic to optimize load and using smart electricity grids. IoT-based security solutions including remote monitoring and biometric-based authentication can be implemented too.


The blockchain is a modern technology that is used to store and transmit information in a distributed, secure and effective way. Educational facilities may use blockchain to store student data such as personal data and learning performance. The benefit of such technology among others is security. Moreover, blockchain is commonly used for authenticity check, so it will hugely reduce cheating.


With the growing implementation of IT technologies and IoT devices, the need to secure the network from cyber threats emerged. Higher education institutions must implement new tools that enhance cybersecurity, such as user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), which detects suspicious activities in typical user behavior.


Other emerging technologies in education are Augmented and Virtual Reality. They are already being used in classrooms to create lessons more informative as these technologies can bring animals into classrooms or move the whole class to the moon. Though VR still has blockers in terms of costs and content, AR is a more accessible technology as requires mobile phone only. In addition to enhancing knowledge in the medical, engineering and science disciplines, AR can be used on campus to support orientation for refreshments.

Big Data

Ten years ago, it was hard to manage data of tens or even hundreds of thousands of students on paper. Luckily, in the modern world where everything is digitalized, we can use Big Data for better Data Management, analysis, and usage. Big Data in education is mostly information about the performance and abilities of each individual students which can improve their learning experience by personalizing it. Moreover, it is used for better program analysis and is a base for machine learning and AI.

AI And Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence and it’s base, machine learning, are a part of the global digital transformation and higher-ed institutions aren’t left behind. These emerging technologies are used for AI teaching assistants, advanced analysis of students performance, IoT data, and much more. It is crucial to implement AI as Gen Z is used to it on platforms like YouTube, Google, and Amazon, and they want learning experiences to be adapted to them and be consumed whenever and wherever they want.

Artificial Intelligence can be used in content and Learning Management Systems to create more AI-enabled learning tools that not only generate an answer to students but provide them with a clear explanation and step-by-step guide. Such learning approach will increase students efficiency as they can learn anywhere and anytime.

Moreover, some schools, including Deakin University, use AI like IBM’s Watson to assist students during their first year on campus to create the most pleasant experience. Watson in Deakin University can answer to more than 1,600 questions in real-time about admissions, parking permits, dorm life, getting around town, financial aid, campus living and much more.

Such a small part of campus digital transformation in higher education helps students settle in and feel more like home. As a result, retention rate increases and freshman stress reduces.

Increased Accessibility

Universities try to make education accessible to people with disabilities in order to reach ADA compliance. Universities are implementing modern technology like speech recognition and transcription for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Before-mentioned IT solutions in campuses and classrooms provide equal and accessible education for every student. Transcription of lectures not only helps students with disabilities but also it can be used by other learners to search through lectures and review them after classes.


We have already talked about artificial assistants that can answer students questions. The commonplace of usage of this technology is university customer service to help quickly handle some of the simpler questions that students have and reduce the load of phone lines. Besides all the benefits that chatbots offer, they also assist ADA compliance as they can be used by those who are unable to chat on the phone.

Final Words

Any transformation is a challenge, it is quite hard to ruin well-known, comfortable approaches and replace them with something new and unknown. But the digital transformation is rather a need than an option. You can start by taking small steps like creating an eLearning platform and move to something more complex like IoT and AI.