4 Future Technologies Shaping Higher Ed

Cutting-edge tools that will create the campus of the future
By: | Issue: January/February, 2020
January 21, 2020

Four main technology trends—the internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data and augmented reality—are poised to shape the future of higher ed.

In this web seminar, leaders from Central Michigan University, North Carolina State University and University of California San Diego discussed how they are embracing these up-and-coming technologies to adapt to a changing higher ed landscape, and provided a glimpse of how these tools could change the future of college and university campuses.


Don Grauer
Regional Director, East Region
Nelnet Campus Commerce

Jared Church
Associate Director, University Billing Services
University of California San Diego

Caitlyn Kolhoff
Financial Analyst, Student Account Services and University Billing
Central Michigan University

Maria Brown
Director, University Cashier’s Office
North Carolina State University

Don Grauer: In today’s world, digital assistant Siri mentions your calendar, Facebook will suggest your friends, computers trade stocks, there’s air traffic control, cars park themselves—and the list goes on and on. A few years ago, The New York Times talked about how artificial intelligence had reached a frenzy at about $8 billion per year. What we’re seeing mostly in higher education is chatbots, which are great examples of artificial intelligence.

Jared Church: Our plan is to continue to innovate and to use things to fulfill the mission of adding value to the community through easier access to products and services. We have an autonomous living laboratory and are using the program for self-driving mail delivery carts. We have partnered with Spin to integrate technology on campus, so we now have 200 bikes and 200 scooters moving around campus.

Another partnership is with Lyft for effectively delivering all the services that support and benefit the campus community, as well as a program called Safe Ride. There’s also a Lyft FLEX Shared program, which eases parking congestion. Friends and family who are new to UC San Diego can use Lyft and share a $5 discount off of one ride. This was designed to encourage the use of the rideshare program for campus visits and events.

One of the reasons we partnered with Lyft is because their rides are carbon neutral. They use direct funding to support larger emission mitigation efforts, which are managed by a third-party organization.

“At the University of California San Diego, our plan is to continue to innovate and to use things to fulfill the mission of adding value to the community through easier access to products and services.

We have an autonomous living laboratory and are using the program for self-driving mail delivery carts.”

Caitlyn Kolhoff: We have several media production studios in our Park Library, offering a range of services to assist faculty and instructors in creating and using digital media. There are different types of recording studios. The first is the makerspace, where instructors can record their lectures, present with PowerPoint and use the recordings in their courses. There is also a whisper room, which is an audio recording booth. Then, there is a lightboard makerspace, which has a clear Plexiglas board that the instructor writes on to demonstrate concepts, and the viewer can see the concepts from the other side. We also have a full production studio complete with a green screen integrated with annotation tablets to highlight course content.

Another thing that we have is the MakerBot Innovation Center. That is basically a 3D-printing lab that’s available for use by students, faculty and staff. It allows our students to print for personal use, for their courses or for research.

Maria Brown: In 2013, NC State opened a new library, which won all kinds of awards, including for the bookBot, a robotic book delivery system that replaced conventional library bookshelves. Mostly throughout the library building, you won’t see bookshelves, but rather functional space, with collaborative spaces, quiet spaces, and all kinds of chairs and places to sit. Our bookBot can hold 200 different publications and requires one-ninth of the space of conventional shelving. There are spots where you can look for a book. You punch it in and then the bookBot goes to work. It will grab your book and put it in a delivery mobile, and you can pick it up within five minutes.

We also have a lending library with a 3D scanner and an Oculus stand-alone headset and a brain-sensing headband. You can just walk in and check out 100 different items.

Part of the goal for this library is to have spaces that can adapt as technology continues to advance. There’s a gaming lab that’s very popular. There’s a little idea alcove, a creative studio and a 3D printer.

Don Grauer: We had a gentleman from Navarro College in Texas as part of a web seminar in April. He said, “We are not competing against other colleges and universities; we are competing against the likes of Amazon because that’s what students are expecting when they’re applying and registering for courses.”
We know student expectations are sky high. They expect an Amazon-like frictionless experience when they get to campus or when they’re first interacting with your college or university.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws111319