The education sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced higher education institutions to make unprecedented changes in the use of technology, especially when it comes to publishing content and distributing it to students, faculties, and staff.
For most higher education institutions, a content management system (CMS) has been the neural center that enabled this transformation, centralizing information, and enabling them to publish content faster. According to research by NYC Design, 83.8% of the 4,000 higher education institutions surveyed are currently using a CMS.
Overall, three CMSs dominate the market across all institutions: WordPress (40.8%), Drupal (19.5%) and OU Campus (9.5%), while the rest of the CMS achieved less than 7% acceptance. In order to uncover the status of CMS use and the expectations of decision-makers in the university sector of a CMS, we asked the experts.
The impact of the pandemic on higher education information management
The main goal of educational institutions is to ensure that the quality of education remains the same even under such circumstances. To achieve this, most universities have adapted to new methods of delivering content to students and teachers. An example of this is the integration of CMS in Alexa for the provision of voice content.
The lack of personal interactions has also increased the value of data. The more data you have about students, the better experiences you can have, especially with better grades and better results.
According to Rebecca Scanlan, director of digital marketing for enrollment at Claremont Lincoln University in Claremont, “pre-pandemic universities were heavily dependent on the status quo and students were demanding reforms that would increase equity.” and now we understand that we cannot rely on the status quo to innovate. Content management systems need to incorporate as much data into the student experience as possible in order to create a bespoke experience that caters to different types of learners. ”
Similarly, as a result of the pandemic, the digital transformation has reached more higher education institutions and increased agility. Rick Merrick, CIO of Chicago, IL-based TCS Education System: “Higher education institutions can be overly bureaucratic. A CMS that is lightweight, flexible, future-proof, and secure is required to make them more agile.”
Related article: Learning to Adapt to the Pandemic-Induced Education Crisis
CMS and the future of universities
The needs of higher education institutions differ significantly from those of an e-commerce or B2B corporate website. This means that higher education has become a market in its own right in the eyes of CMS providers. Recent research by UX Collective has shown that CMS is addressing post-secondary institutions with bespoke solutions designed specifically for them.
Hence, it is likely that CMS and DXP will understand the needs of students and faculty even better in the near future. To do this, however, content management systems also have to disrupt themselves. Merrick believes that “CMS must evolve from pure content delivery technologies to DXP. CMS must be easy to integrate with other cloud technologies to ensure that the students’ digital experience can be replicated throughout their lifecycle.”
Merrick also believes that higher education C-suite executives also need a break. He says, “It’s not just about choosing a system that is easy to manage, manage, and create, but that makes the student experience meaningful and convenient.”
Similarly, Annie Koh, professor emeritus at Singapore Management University in Singapore, believes the future for higher education institutions is to “create a learning system from anywhere”. She explains that the pandemic has only accelerated the trend towards more digital, collaborative learning, and that is a benefit that needs to be considered.
CMS and DXP have the tools that higher education institutions can use to provide students with more personalized learning experiences. Headless CMS, in particular, have the potential to provide AI-based personalization and omnichannel experiences for students so they can have access to teaching materials and announcements, and maintain communication with faculty members.
Possible road blocks
Still, this future is not free from roadblocks, Scanlan believes. For example, “universities haven’t really started using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve their student journey.”
“The CMS of the future will understand student behavior at the micro level and use very sophisticated algorithms to understand student enrollment trends and data. Even helping get students into classes based on what’s best for their trip, “she says.
Against this background, what must higher education institutions expect from their CMS?
- Granular personalization
- Provision of omnichannel content
- Headless or hybrid architecture
- Support for NoCode or LowCode
- Integration with third party software
In addition to technical capabilities and support, higher education institutions need a provider with sufficient product vision to demonstrate why the CMS enables them to dig through the specifics of the post-secondary education market. After all, it has to be a constantly evolving product with regular releases and a roadmap that will benefit your institution.