Academic Transformation: Preparing Students for a Digital World

March 11, 2019 John Gorup

Transformation in higher education is a hot topic. The above here is from the Educause Learning Initiative’s 7 Things You Should Know paper on leading academic transformation. While learning is the core of higher ed functions, every aspect of the modern institution is facing raised expectations and new pressures.

Many institutions want transformation, but getting there is easier said than done. When organizations, not just those in higher education, talk about “transformation” or “reimagining, ” what they actually mean is they’re building a new website, creating a mobile app, or maybe redesigning their logo. The temptation is to put futuristic window dressing on an otherwise traditional model. For example, if a pizza shop creates a phone app to order pizza, it’s a pizza shop with a phone app. That isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t fundamentally reimagine pizza (as if that’s even possible!).

Preparing students for the 21st century

Tecnológico de Monterrey is a true example, however, of a university reinventing itself. Tecnológico de Monterrey (or Tec Monterrey, or just “Tec”)  is a university that looks like many others. Its campus has modern, glass-encased buildings, a beautiful library, and even a winning football team. Not only is Tec nationally ranked in Mexico, it holds a solid global reputation for innovation. 

For a lot of reasons, Tec doesn’t need to change — the institution could ride on its reputation for decades to come. But Tec is choosing to reimagine what it means to be an educational institution. The new educational model is called Tec21

The focus of Tec21 is to build 21st century students for a 21st century world. And no, this doesn’t mean Tec is creating an Intro to JavaScript online course. Rather, it’s a full transformation of how students are taught — from the curriculum to the physical spaces to the digital spaces. Tec21 strives to provide experiential learning for the whole student: their health and wellness, engagement in campus life, talent development, life fulfillment, and their feeling of inclusion. 

iWeek, for example, is a week in which undergraduate students perform activities through experiential learning. Silos between departments have been broken down to focus on a “challenge-based” curriculum. In line with that, physical spaces have been altered for Tec21 to encourage collaboration and innovation.

Getting to the actionable data and efficient processes to serve these kinds of students begins with strategy. Appirio’s digital strategy team focuses on getting the most out of technology investments. A 360-degree view of constituents doesn’t just happen on its own. Appirio is proud of the work it has done with institutions like Georgetown University to help them give better experiences to their students, alumni, staff, and faculty. 

Small steps to reimagine education in big ways

If you work at a college or university, you might not be able to reimagine your institution like Tec is doing. But there are always areas to improve: 

  • Be more efficient at recruiting
  • Find new ways to ensure students succeed
  • Deepen relationships with alumni
  • Broaden corporate relations
  • Enhance the experiences of faculty and staff

These efforts require courage and vision, but also better technology and data. How do you begin? A good place to start is Salesforce’s Higher Ed Summit, a two-and-half-day event co-hosted this year by and the University of San Diego. 

The Higher Ed Summit, taking place at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, is where  institutions share ideas and gain inspiration. If you want to learn more about the new Tec21 educational model, don’t miss Tec’s session.

Appirio is proud to participate in this year’s Summit as an Emerald sponsor. We’d love to share with you some exciting ways we help higher ed institutions to reimagine education for a changing world. Stop by and see us in the entrance to the Quad, at the Hilton Bayfront hotel.



About the Author

John Gorup

John Gorup is the Global Director for Higher Education at Appirio. He has been in the Salesforce ecosystem as a consultant, marketer, and solution architect for over 10 years. John has a degree in communication from Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) and has an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of business. When not working John enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, drinking coffee and playing tennis poorly.

Follow on Linkedin More Content by John Gorup
Previous Article
Supercharge Your Salesforce Lightning Migration
Supercharge Your Salesforce Lightning Migration

Next Article
How to Best Support Salesforce: In-House or Partner?
How to Best Support Salesforce: In-House or Partner?