Engagement Is the Future of Tech in Higher Ed

The flood of technology at colleges and universities is starting to address the need to improve student engagement. This is vital because unfulfilled educational experiences hurt graduation rates. Administrators also need to better understand student retention because the issue has contributed to the trillion-dollar student loan crisis. 

One of the top issues identified by dissatisfied students is their lack of engagement with their school. This includes the campus, the faculty and other students. While technology has enabled remote and online courses, students can lose interest and motivation due to an absence of collaboration. For students who are infrequently on campus, the hurdle of just getting around can seem daunting. 

Fortunately, there are new technologies that can increase engagement and make student life more productive, both on campus and off: Location-based mapping can provide campus navigation – even inside buildings, including finding the best places to study and meet up with like-minded students. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can provide contextual notifications, such as helping with both finding parking and finding parked cars afterward. Learning-management systems such as Blackboard facilitate student and professor engagement regardless of location. Audio-video technologies such as Extron and Crestron facilitate the classroom experience. GoToTraining can also facilitate the local and remote lecture experience by connecting students and professors. Desktop virtualization technologies such as XenApp enable fast-paced lab environments as well as app delivery for training students in subjects such as AutoCAD or Photoshop. 

Collectively, these technologies provide a basis for an engaged student and faculty. However, challenges still exist, as most of the current technologies are not integrated and provide an obstacle for professors to learn and leverage. 

In South Florida, Chris Harrison, CTO of the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Office of Innovation and Information Technology, is driving a two-year initiative to redefine how technology can be leveraged in higher education. 

“This program includes an innovative environment and ecosystem for IT staff, students, faculty, think tanks and partners, such as Citrix, to research, collaborate and foster creativity,” Harrison says. “This will be accomplished by developing and producing leading-edge and sustainable solutions aimed at solving real-world problems centered on the academic community and incorporating those across NSU. It is funded internally and is a key enabler for students to design, develop and test the various technologies in a sand environment. Students can work hand-in-hand with engineers and scientists as well.”

Stay tuned for some homegrown innovation in education that raises the bar for student engagement and outcomes. ?

Chris Fleck is on the board of the South Florida Technology Alliance and vice president of emerging solutions for Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS), a Fort Lauderdale company that provides secure remote access to data and applications.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.