How digital learning is remaking higher education

By Chris Nerney, on


Several technologies have converged in recent years to transform higher education by enabling digital learning. Digital technologies are making higher education more accessible and engaging through ubiquitous internet access on wireless campuses, digital courses that can be completed anywhere and mobile apps that make learning more interactive.

For colleges and universities, offering digital learning tools is both a service to their student populations and a matter of survival. After all, the customer base for the higher education industry is a generation that has been raised on mobile devices, digital games, texting, social media and connectivity anywhere. If you don’t offer digital learning options and accessibility to prospective students, they’ll join a more digital-savvy institution.

The following are some of the ways digital and mobile technologies are changing how colleges and universities offer educational resources and support to students:

Online courses

The number of students taking courses without stepping foot into a classroom or lecture hall continues to increase, particularly at public institutions. Nearly 6 million college and university students enrolled in at least one online course in 2014, according to a Babson Survey Research Group report.

Business courses remain the most popular choices among online students, with computer and IT courses quickly gaining ground in 2016. Half of the students who have taken courses online said they wouldn’t or were unsure whether they would take courses in a classroom, according to a new survey by Campus Technology.

Active learning

The marvels of digital learning aren’t restricted to remote students using notebooks and mobile devices. Active learning platforms liven up the classroom and lecture experience by leveraging the devices students bring into the classroom. This software allows shy students to ask questions anonymously and manage lecture content while providing analytics to instructors to track participation and determine whether an entire class or only specific students are grasping the lessons.

Mobile enrollment and more

At hundreds of colleges and universities around the world, students can register for their courses through mobile apps, sparing themselves the frustration and lost time of waiting in physical lines. Other features offered to students through mobile apps include access to grades and transcripts, course load management functions for adding and dropping classes, email services and access to financial assistance resources.

Team messaging apps

Technology is even making it easier for students to participate in the dreaded group project. According to The Red & Black, some professors at the University of Georgia are using group messaging and collaboration app Slack to help students communicate with team members working together on academic projects.

Digital libraries

The Daily Journal reported that colleges and universities are redesigning their libraries to emphasize IT. They are creating spaces for students using notebooks and mobile devices while ensuring high-speed wireless connectivity to digital library resources, including free textbooks and other class materials.

Community connections

Large colleges and universities can be intimidating and socially isolating for some students. Starting in mid-September, higher-education students will be able to download an augmented reality app called TeePeedU that is designed to get them “out of the dorm and into the scene, dropping digital graffiti all over campus with everyone you want to know and hang out with.”

Innovations in digital learning are changing the way students learn and preparing them for the modern and digital working world.

About The Author

Chris Nerney

Freelance Writer

Chris Nerney writes about enterprise technology, healthcare finance and IT, and science for a number of websites and enterprises. Chris has written extensively about big data and analytics, mobile technology, cloud computing, the healthcare revenue cycle, value-based care, data centers, converged systems, and space technology. His work has appeared in Computerworld,, Data-Informed, Revenue Cycle Insights, Network World, Fritterati, and numerous other sites.

Articles by Chris Nerney
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