2023 Students and Technology Report: Flexibility, Choice, and Equity in the Student Experience

Reflections and Next Steps

Taken together, this report highlights several key recurring ideas about students' preferences and experiences with technology and teaching and learning:

  • Students' experiences of and ideas about the IT and technology supports and services at their institution are infused with values and ethical considerations. Students see beyond themselves to larger interests in equity and student choice and appear to wish to see their instructors and their institutions reinforce those interests, both in policy and in practice.
  • Flexible learning modalities are going to help institutions continue to serve the younger, on-campus student populations that many colleges and universities have typically served in years past while also allowing them to explore alternative degree and course models that will appeal to lifelong and off-campus student populations that will increasingly constitute the higher education of the future.
  • Students who are empowered to "choose their own adventure" with their course modality engagements are far more satisfied with their course experiences than those who don't get to choose. Perhaps yet to be seen is how choice translates into learning outcomes and student success, but student well-being and accessibility needs alone should be reason enough for institutions to explore options for placing course engagement decisions in the hands of students.

While institutions might take any number of steps to explore and respond to the above reflections, several possible next steps may be more feasible and immediately actionable than others:

  • Listen to your students. Of course, we at EDUCAUSE would love if you participated in our annual student survey to measure and better understand the experiences of these key stakeholders at your institution. But a host of other approaches to listening to your students can be just as meaningful and impactful, and you might consider something as simple as beginning with a conversation. Gather your students, ask questions, listen, discuss, and respond. Elevate in particular those student voices that may not typically be heard or acknowledged.
  • Explore options for developing a "hybrid learning policy" if your institution doesn't already have one. Involve students, faculty, and staff as direct contributors to your policy. Establish institution-wide consensus and excitement for shared values that will guide all of your decisions and practices related to hybrid courses. And consider approaches to evaluation and accountability to help ensure faculty and students alike are adhering to your values and policies and effectively implementing hybrid course models and practices.
  • In reflecting on where the future of higher education may be headed, don't just take our word for it. Build your institution's capabilities and culture around foresight thinking and planning, and engage in your own thought exercises around the trends you see emerging around your institution. Create an action plan for your institution that can help you identify short-, mid-, and long-term actions that you can take to be better prepared to adapt and thrive in whatever the future of higher education ends up being.