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The Study Hall

Educause 2021: What We Learned and Key Takeaways

Last week we traveled to Philadelphia, PA to attend the premier convening of IT professionals and technology providers across the diverse higher education landscape; the annual Educause conference. 

At the conference, Instructure met with our #Canvasfam and incredible community. We also chatted with higher education professionals and universities to showcase how our Instructure Learning Platform can: 

  • Support all teaching and learning modalities
  • Provide professional development at scale 
  • Support equitable access and mobility for students and teachers
  • Provide flexible options for skills-based and video learning 

If you missed out on connecting with us at the show and want to learn more, click here.

Key Educause 2021 Takeaways: 

  • There is an increasing demand for data-informed decision making. With this focus on data comes a conversation on data ethics, ownership, and privacy. 
  • Hybrid learning models are being widely adopted as campuses look to the future post-pandemic world. Many faculty are now more open to exploring and experimenting with new learning models, and learners' expectations have become more flexible and adaptable to fully online or integrated online learning experiences.
  • The post-pandemic institution is compassionate, focused on the student experience, and provides accessible pathways for a diverse student body. 

What We Learned: 

1. Students have a consumer mindset when it comes to their degrees and data. 

This year there were 36 sessions on cyber security, data integrity, and privacy. The focus was on student expectations of who owns their data and the increase in student concern over personal data privacy, especially in an increasingly online higher education experience. Instructure’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, Melissa Loble, presented in the session, “Empower Innovation with Digital Learner Ethics.” She said, “Students have consumer perspectives. As a vendor, we are serving learning through the institution and empowering them to use data to accomplish their mission.” 

Additionally, students are looking for the value proposition of their degree in the way consumers make purchasing decisions. Institutions that are flexible and focus on upskilling, cross-skilling, and skills-based programming will augment their influence and be in a position to attract more student-consumers. 

2. Technology is now a driver and enabler of higher education strategic agendas. 

“Digital faculty are required for a digital future,” said Educause’s Susan Grajek as she unveiled the 2022 Top Higher Ed IT Issues. Many faculty are bringing their skills and increased digital sophistication from the past 1.5 years of online learning back into the classroom or hybrid model. This blended delivery of the academic curriculum is the new normal and student expectation. In order to be competitive, institutions must support the idea that we can teach and learn from anywhere. To this end, flexibility and digital literacy will become part of an institution's value propositions as we move into the future. 

Susan said, “Creating not the higher ed we have, but the higher ed we deserve, cannot be completed without tech.” 

3. Institutions are recognizing students as whole persons rather than just “learners.” 

Susan Grajek highlighted this point in her general session, that institutions are for the first time “looking at students as people,” and recognizing the whole self. Prioritizing accessibility for diverse learners, looking at student engagement from alternative angles, offering office hours virtually for non-traditional students who are not able to travel to campus, and considering the mental and emotional health of all students were all topics of conversation throughout the conference sessions. 

This trend directly correlates to our findings in our State of Student Success and Engagement global report. To learn more, download the report here

Thank you to those who stopped by our booth in Philadelphia. We look forward to seeing you next year at Educause!