As per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, universities officially opened their doors to students from the 17th of May. However, keeping campuses safe and complying with new regulations is a logistical nightmare.
With a plethora of safety considerations, universities and education providers will need to rethink the way students and faculty return. Enabling social distancing in lectures, shared working spaces, and events, along with successful rapid COVID-19 testing are just a few of the daunting tasks facing education leaders.
The need for fast, adaptive, and automated processes is key if universities are to create the applications needed for a safe working environment. However, traditional technologies are simply not built to adapt to these new variables.
The time needed to manually code applications that can create staggered schedules, monitor attendance, and provide instantaneous updates to students poses a monumental challenge for under pressure developers.
With already stretched IT departments lacking resources and having to deal with threats such as increased cybercrime, a skills shortage will make any potential attempt at a safe return to campus that much harder to achieve.
As a result, demand is higher than ever for innovative solutions that can streamline the development process and help universities return to ‘business as usual.’
One technology that offers education institutes a path towards a sustainable post-COVID future is low-code. Low-code is a software development approach that requires little to no coding in order to build applications and processes.
Low-code platforms are agile, easily scalable, and able to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment. These platforms use visual interfaces with simple logic and drag-and-drop features instead of extensive coding languages.
Importantly, this doesn’t only apply to universities, but also college and apprenticeship education. The beauty of low-code platforms is that regardless of the situation, a thin-on-the-ground IT team could speedily build out the applications they need to adapt to the pos-t world and beyond.
So, how can low-code help the education sector get back on its feet?
Easing the burden
The rapidly changing demands for education providers mean flexibility and agility are essential to developing applications that allow students to return. For instance, universities and colleges will need systems that can monitor the vaccination status of students, levels of attendance at any given time, and maintain department-wide schedule synchronisation. However, the skills shortage in IT is making this all but an impossibility.
Overstretched IT teams simply cannot keep up with the workload required to provide a safe and enjoyable learning experience while hand-coding with legacy systems. Low code can ease this burden dramatically. By expediting the life cycle of an application from inception through to delivery, under-siege developers can create effective applications in a fraction of the time it had taken before.
Rather than spend time coding an app from scratch, low-code platforms let developers work from existing templates and drag prebuilt elements, forms, and objects together to create the app they need with far less hassle
Adapting to uncertainty
The physical changes required to get students learning again are numerous and will vary according to the needs of an institution. The beauty of low code is that regardless of the specifics, it can help universities and colleges adapt as quickly as possible.
Whether it’s complying with social distancing measures by creating staggered schedules for buildings, classrooms and labs, or creating apps to scan vaccine passports and update students on the latest news – the education sector is in uncharted territory.
Therefore, it’s crucial to have a system where developers can arrange everything quickly and remotely using applications that work across multiple devices and departments. With low-code, developers can consistently change their areas of focus depending on the external demands of the pandemic without squandering months of development time.
One of the things that has suffered most throughout the pandemic is communication. Reports of students only hearing about cancelled programs through the news illustrates this point starkly.
Through low code, universities and colleges can begin to change this and engage students more directly. For instance, the University of Miami recently created a bot with low-code platforms that was able to answer student questions and concerns instantly. Low code platforms can also simplify data collection and analysis to create apps that monitor student’s happiness ratings and provide an easy method for them to offer feedback.
Low code springboards growth
Ultimately, like the rest of the marketplace, universities are customer service companies. This is a reality that is slowly being recognised across the whole public sector. The pandemic has exposed this fact more than ever, and education providers need to do better. Students are free to take their tuition fees elsewhere, and universities need to use this pressure to inform and guide them to offer unique services.
While getting students back after the pandemic offers an opportunity to spark technological change, in order to stay competitive long-term, embracing digital technology is the only viable way to keep up.
Going forward, successful education providers, whether that be university, college, or apprenticeship level, will offer top-tier digital experiences from start to finish. With low code, they can start to create this experience as soon as possible.
Ann Maya, VP and General Manager of Boomi Flow and Boomi DCP at Boomi