Smart Campuses: The Future of Higher Education
WiFi networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other advanced technologies have enabled colleges and universities across the country to transform into digitally connected campuses that are benefiting students, faculty, and their surrounding communities. As a result, these modern-day campuses boast enhanced student learning and quality of life, lower operating costs, greater security and safety, improved environmental sustainability, and more.
Smart campuses, like smart cities, are defined as places where devices and applications create new experiences or services and facilitate operational efficiency.
The integration of digital technology into the learning process has given students more options than ever before to decide where, when, and how they pursue their studies. For example, students can use their smartphones and other mobile devices to gain access to homework assignments and grades through online portals, or they can attend classroom lectures remotely using video technology. IoT devices are being used to send alerts about students skipping classes, allowing college officials to help those who may be struggling academically.
Network computing technology has made campus life much easier for today’s students, such as location-based systems to find lost textbooks and other personal items; using a digital device to pay for meals at a self-service cafeteria; or finding the time, location, and cost of various student activities.
The use of WiFi and IoT technologies has made great strides in providing greater campus security and safety in recent years. Networked video cameras, digitalized LED lighting systems, digital identification card readers, geofencing, and other technologies are being employed on many academic campuses.
Colleges and universities are jumping on the autonomous vehicle bandwagon to reduce traffic congestion, increase road safety for drivers and pedestrians, and lower carbon emissions from gas-powered vehicles.
As more colleges and universities adopt the smart campus concept, geofencing has become one of the more popular technologies used among institutions.
Geofencing is the practice of using global positioning systems and radio frequency identification technology to create a specific virtual geographical area, allowing software to set off a response on mobile devices when entering or exiting an area.
REBUILDING AND REBRANDING A SMART CAMPUS
College instructors pacing back and forth while speaking to students seated in big lecture halls—the “sage on a stage”—is becoming a thing of the past. Virtual labs, digital ports, remote learning, and other technological advances are making it easier for students to learn beyond the traditional classroom environment while giving their instructors new and better teaching tools and methods, as well as greater reach outside a single classroom.
The rebuilt campus will also promote a greater sense of safety and security among students, their parents, and the city’s residents. The redesign of the Tec campus not only facilitates the necessity for flexibility and technology that their new pedagogy requires, it also promotes resiliency and branding.
USING INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY
Universities and colleges resemble small cities; each has its own infrastructure that must be regularly maintained for operations to run as smoothly as possible. But that comes with an ever-increasing price tag, making it very difficult for colleges and institutions to avoid initiating tuition hikes and cost-cutting measures on academics, sports, student life, and other programs.
Smart technologies, however, enable colleges/ institutions to operate more efficiently. This, in turn, allows them to continue to meet rigorous academic standards and, at the same time, to keep tuition and other costs as low as possible.
Higher education institutions must adopt smart campus technologies in order to continue to offer top-notch, cost-efficient educational programs in this competitive market. This approach will allow today’s students to meet the demanding challenges that lie ahead in the increasingly digitalized society of the 21st century.