It’s been two years since I graduated college. But as a student who spent seven years as an undergraduate, two years working in the corporate world still feels like I’m just fumbling my way through a new sphere of learning.
I’ll admit it—like many of my fellow students back then, I didn’t think a lot could be changed in the education system. But working in the tech industry, I saw and realized that so many things that I thought were impossible to have were in fact totally achievable in terms of creating change in the education space with the help of online teaching technology.
Armed with this new knowledge, I’m here to share some of the things I wish my school had (and should have!) in the hopes that universities realize how helpful leveraging technology is for more effective online teaching, whether remote or hybrid.
1. A Tech-Savvy Mindset
Universities often talk about having innovation at their core, but the fact of the matter is many have been rather conservative with investments in technology to advance their digital experiences. For many years, education establishments have relied on old ways to get things done. And so, when the pandemic happened and universities scrambled to shift everything online, the education community witnessed first-hand the gaps between students’ learning needs and what makeshift learning solutions couldn’t address.
To improve the learning space, education establishments must realize how technology can be leveraged to address the needs of both educators and learners alike. With a tech-savvy mindset, digital champions will be able to appreciate how EduTech SaaS solutions have transformed industry peers in creating a collaborative experience for faculty and students. Once they embark on this digitalization journey, future needs can be boldly addressed and innovation–as well as quality user experiences–will be at the core of change decisions.
2. A Unified Collaboration, Communication, and Storage Platform
For students like me who had no standardized platforms provided by their universities, group work was absolutely dreadful without collaboration and communication tools.
From creating multiple copies of your word documents on your local computer and transferring it to an online word app to sharing links to group members, the whole process of co-authoring a document is almost always a hassle. Hence why students usually have documents titled: “DocumentName,” “DocumentName2,” “DocumentNameFinal,” or “DocumentNameUpdatedFinal.”
And then when it comes to communication, students have mostly relied on different social media and messaging apps for staying in touch with classmates when collaborating on group projects.
What about the times when you have to find older files by scouring your personal drives and local storage?
Imagine a central storage space integrated with your standardized collaboration and communication platform where the documents you worked on and those that are forwarded to you are automatically stored and easily accessible anytime, all while having the ability to communicate with your professors and peers—whether by chat or video—on the same platform!
For lecturers, this serves as a central knowledge repository for them to access and update materials for various classes, year on year, in a systematic and contextualized manner.
With a unified communication, collaboration, and storage platform, the world of collaborative learning for students and lecturers will become much more intuitive.
3. A Secure Exam Portal
“Honor” and “integrity” were among our professors’ favorite words when we took online exams. They’d either say those words repetitively or they’d craft tough exams—exams so hard students would doubt if they were ever taught the material—just to prevent cheating. Plus, once the exam was given, there’d usually be no way to contact the professor should you have questions.
If there were secure test-taking portals like where students are remotely monitored via AI-driven functionality during exams, and anti-cheating capabilities were embedded in the exam tool itself, online exams would have been much more appealing.
Thankfully, today that’s the reality. Instead of having concerns about students taking advantage of online classes to cheat, professors and invigilators can rest easy knowing that remote exam sessions are being as carefully monitored as in-person sessions thanks to these technological innovations.
4. Accessible and Responsive Support Services
It wasn’t just students with all the requirements; I also saw how professors struggled. It’s not easy for professors to juggle planning and scheduling courses, preparing and sharing content, doing online teaching, and grading, all while answering queries from their students.
This is why I believe accessible and responsive support services, like an automated chatbot, could address fundamental FAQs that students have (e.g. where to download course materials or when tests are scheduled). A chatbot could be truly helpful for students and faculty whether adapting to online learning or simply innovating the learning experience.
5. A Transparent and Up-to-date Grading Portal
I used to have so much anxiety come finals season because I didn’t have any idea how I was doing with my grades. Yes, I’m aware of how my exams went, I know what scores I had in my quizzes—but these aren’t the only things grades are based on.
Instead of waiting for the final semestral grade, an updated and transparent grading portal reflecting milestone assessments would be beneficial to ease students’ anxiety and let them know how they’re doing whether at the start, in the middle, or at the end of the semester!
6. Using Tools That Are Driving Productivity in the Corporate World
You know how alumni would say to their university’s undergrads, “The corporate world is different from life here at the university?” Part of that, I believe, is how there are already standard ways of doing things in the workplace, and that includes being familiar with a certain set of tools.
As I’ve mentioned, being in the corporate world is a whole new way of learning. If the same platforms—such as Microsoft 365 and specifically Microsoft Teams—were made available for students to use in college instead of having to adopt new platforms after graduating, they’d have much better chances of being able to adapt to the corporate world.
7. An Integrated University Portal
You register for your classes in one portal, check for your semestral grades in another, and then use different portals to access exams, course materials, and so on. Everything can get a bit muddled and confusing for the average student across so many platforms.
Having an integrated university portal that serves as a centralized platform to access all essential university services is useful for both students and alumni alike.
Students can access the integrated portal with ease and convenience, and they no longer have to bookmark various pages just to do what they need to do!
Final Thoughts on Online Teaching Innovation
College serves as the preparation ground for the corporate world. While students focus on knowledge-building, Universities should also incorporate relevant enterprise tools to help students familiarize themselves better with collaborative tech adopted by global enterprises.
By leveraging technology to train and upskill higher education students, innovation could augment quality learning and empower students to express themselves and collaborate with their community in the best way possible. With Microsoft 365 and AvePoint’s (Examena and Curricula), the future of learning is poised to be innovative, collaborative, and empowering for students, educators, and faculty alike.