Updated: May 11, 2020
With the emergence of new technologies and the fast rate in which the world (in relation to technology) is changing, it is important to understand the role technology plays on your campus. Technology is incredible, but with a rise in topics such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and body hacking, technology can also become overwhelming, leading to discussions of technology taking over. Technology on college campuses has moved beyond simple SIS and CRM systems. Technology is being brought to campus by students, incorporated into the classroom, utilized to make informed decisions, and to ultimately help drive a university forward.
It is vital for a campus to understand where they are at, and where they want to go. Having a clear, unified vision of what the campus will look like in 3, 5, 10 years can help guide decisions made by every department on campus. Technology should be a key component in helping a campus get to where it wants to be. However, too often, we let technology dictate our decisions, and become a roadblock, rather than an aid.
Often, individuals on a campus ask questions regarding how to obtain specific data, how to streamline certain processes, or inquire about making a change to enhance their job and/or the campus. Too often, the response is “that can’t be done” or “this system does not allow us to do that” or a simple, “no”. A solution never gets discovered because the current technology doesn’t allow for something, or more often, because nobody knows how to actually come up with a solution with their current knowledge of the already-existing technology. Instead of finding a way, we use an excuse and blame technology.
When an educational institution decides where it is heading, and makes a plan on how to get there, it allows them to decide what technology can assist them in achieving their goals. When it appears that the functionality of a specific technology becomes a roadblock, it is up to campus leaders to find a solution. When technology is managing you, you are allowing it to make decisions for you. When you manage technology, you are deciding what you want, and allowing technology to be one component to help get you there.
I don’t believe technology should ever take over the decision making or role of humans. Rather, technology should guide and assist human beings. However, without realizing it, it is easy to let technology be the reason campuses don’t meet a goal, finish a task, or improve processes.
One reason institutions rely too heavily on technology is that most campuses have multiple systems, multiple departments each relying on a different system to provide them adequate information, and sometimes, information is pulled from several systems to aid in decision making. Too often, these systems operate as disparate systems, providing inconsistent data. When this happens, a few problems occur:
Users have to pull multiple reports, out of multiple systems and either have contradictory data, or manual work is needed in order to get the data needed.
Redundancy may be occurring, meaning multiple systems are being used for similar tasks, rather than combining everything into fewer systems.
Lack of use. With disparate systems, it's more common for users to not fully understand all the potential uses of a system. Each system is being used a little, but probably not to its full potential.
Technology is a wonderful thing, and with enhancements and new technologies emerging, the possibilities are endless. However, no technology will ever be beneficial if users allow the technology to restrict them. Technology should be an aid. It should assist humans, and become a tool that enhances human capability.