7 Investment Trends to Become a Student-Centered Learning Institution

By Abbey Smith

Educational institutions continuously work to achieve excellence while staying current and relevant. In a context of restricted resources and countless demands, they have to do more with less and make smart investment decisions. In this blog series introduction post, we’ll discuss the meaning of a student-centered learning institution and explore some of the trends higher education institutions should invest in to become student focused and ensure sustainability.

What is a student-centered learning institution?

Before we jump into these trends, it’s important to first understand the concept of a student-centered institution. Simply put, this is a type of learning institution that places students in the driver seat when it comes to their learning experiences. It also creates processes and services that directly respond to learning expectations, preferences, and needs in an emphatic way.

Focusing on students’ needs is critical for learning institutions long-term success—especially as student expectations continue to evolve. Students want to make the most out of their investments and have access to a broader offer in which they can be protagonists of their outcomes.

Remember, there's tremendous opportunity lost on not understanding your target audience. Increasing competition not only comes from abroad, it also comes from new, non-traditional players that are agile to respond to learners’ evolving demands and expectations.

And now we’ll take a look at those seven trends. (We’ll explore each trend in more detail later in this series.)

1) Student-Centered Marketing and Services

Ensuring communications and services are tailored to different student personas and profiles will help increase enrollments and improve retention. This can be done through specialized outsourcing, allowing institutions to better understand their students beyond demographics and in terms of their needs and preferences. When that load is taken off institutions, it’s easier for them to focus on their field of expertise: academics, teaching, and learning.

2) Learning Analytics and Cognitive Solutions

Using data to improve learning and the student experience is currently one of the strongest trends in education. Meeting student needs in a timely manner, however, can be challenging. And that’s where learning analytics and cognitive computing can help. Imagine if, based on the available information, you could predict students’ difficulties or anticipate answers to their questions. It’s a powerful resource meant to be an ally to those who support students.

3) Access to Mobile Technologies

Mobile device usage is rising, which means most people spend several hours a day looking at their phones and tablets. This is especially relevant as more people work and learn remotely, and accessing a computer isn’t always an option.

4) Smarter Investment Decisions

Making big investment decisions is challenging for any institution, and technology can be an important factor when evaluating those investment options. After all, the last thing you want is to invest in a technology trend only to realize students have quickly moved onto something new. Although it can be hard to tell how education and technological resources may shift in the future, technology should be chosen considering long-term availability and scalability.

5) Shorter Credentials

Affordability is a big deal for most students. In fact, it’s the number one concern for all student generations. Another important issue is time. Many students don’t want (or need) a bachelor’s or graduate degree. What do they want? Short-term credentials, workshops, and seminars. That is, education that takes less time and money and allows them to learn a competency or skill more quickly.

6) Experiential Learning

Learning through experience isn’t a new concept, but many institutions still fail to make experiential opportunities—such as travel, internships or immersions—accessible. Experiences like these are proven to accelerate learning, promote mindset changes, and increase engagement. They also deliver an extraordinary return on investment, which is something that students need to consider when choosing a program or credential.

7) Career Outcomes

If your institution isn’t thinking seriously about how to be more involved with employers, think again. Reducing the gap between university and employers is a big opportunity to offer your students the career outcomes they are hoping for.

Up Next: How Well Do You Know Your Learners?

In our next post, we’ll discuss why knowing and understanding your audience is key to not only student success, but also your institution’s success.

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