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Cogeco Peer 1: The revolution will be digitised

OpinionSecondary Education
By Heather McLean | 12 July 2017
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Create DateJuly 12, 2017
Last UpdatedJuly 10, 2017

By Susan Bowen, VP and GM, EMEA at Cogeco Peer 1 and Chair of Tech UK’s Women in Tech Council.

There’s quite a revolution happening in education. In one word, it’s ‘digitisation’. And it’s absolutely essential. If today’s students aren’t equipped with good tech skills by the time they graduate, they are at a serious disadvantage.

Technology is changing the world we live in, reshaping the economy and reducing thousands of miles to the click of a mouse. To survive and thrive in this brave new world, students need to be equipped with digital skills. The onus is clearly on educational organisations to, not only meet students’ tech expectations, but also equip them with new tech knowledge and insight.

Need for change

Educational institutes recognise the need for change and even from an operational perspective today they are generally today focusing far more on cloud-based services rather than infrastructure, because of better economics and greater flexibility. In a sense, IT has moved from being a novelty, when rudimentary database skills were considered sufficient for students, to become an absolutely central component in teaching.

Of course, this places pressure on educators. They must have a sharper eye on budgets while looking to the realm of possibilities and ensuring that IT provides strategic advantage. It also means that they must consider things that were never previously on the radar. For the first time, educators will be thinking about the need for data storage to accommodate and support technologies like virtual reality entering the learning sphere.

At the same time, the way some subjects are taught is being transformed. Consider subjects as diverse as particle physics, social sciences and economics. The schools and colleges who have got a grip on technology are presenting their students in these areas with data mining opportunities, in which they drill down into huge databases to analyse, cross reference and explore huge data sets.

Look at the flip side

However, the flip side is that many educators are finding themselves in the roles of account managers, focused on sourcing and accessing the requisite technologies, which detracts from their primary role of delivering academic excellence. Within this context, it’s hardly surprising to see increasing numbers of schools and colleges actively seeking chief technology officers to not only manage day-to-day technology needs, but also drive strategic vision.

Of course, organisations such as the government’s digital marketplace G-Cloud, Jisc which advises on digital resources and network and technology services, and Edtech which provides classroom resources, smooth the path enormously. G-Cloud for instance isn’t static. It keeps refreshing which, in practical terms, means services can be delivered much faster to its members.

Overall, this process will become increasingly sophisticated as education evolves along digital lines and it will also change the way higher education organisations operate, with far greater focus on technology.

It’s difficult to predict how the actual ‘classroom’ will have changed in say 40 years because technology is such a fast moving industry. But it’s likely that extremely sophisticated virtual and augmented reality will be as central to learning as pen and paper has been over the last century.

Cogeco Peer 1 supplies its customers with the fast, reliable and secure ability to access, manage, move and store large amounts of data worldwide.


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