It’s here, and it’s sweeping campuses nationwide: Digital Transformation (Dx) in higher education. While other industries have already made giant leaps in Dx (just look at the retail industry with tech titan Amazon and the transportation industry with innovator Uber), Digital Transformation in higher ed is now starting to take shape.

The topic of Dx in higher ed is being addressed at widely attended events like the Educause Annual Conference, where higher education institutions of all sizes come together to discuss the topic of technology. Still in the relatively early stages of Dx, higher ed IT professionals are wondering if their IT departments are set up to support the evolving digital ecosystems at their institutions – and working to ensure that they are.

I’ve spoken to many IT professionals about the unique challenges they face in higher education. Here are a few of the most pressing challenges, and how some technologies known to work in other industries are being considered and used in higher ed.

  • Distance Learners & How to Support Them

On the surface, campuses may look the same as they have for ages, but what you can’t see is the growing population of remote, or “distant learning,” students. Online degrees are now more common, and many students are opting to take at least a class or two online. In fact, nearly a third of all students are taking at least one distance course. That number rose nearly four percent over the previous year.

Because distance learners can’t be supported by a traditional on-campus help desk, IT departments are working to ensure they have the right tools to support them remotely. This isn’t just a nice-to-have. Efficient and effective remote support is critical to these students’ success since they rely on technology for their coursework. IT departments must find ways to support students in the moment, like when they have an assignment deadline to meet, and at scale, like during campus-wide events that cause a spike in support requests, such as course registration.

Compounding the issue is the growing list of devices that IT needs to support, like Chromebooks, mobile devices, and more. IT departments must strategize how to scale their help desk services to support more devices than ever and quickly resolve simple or complex issues, wherever users happen to be.

  • Artificial Intelligence Goes to School

Chatbots and virtual assistants have become integrated into the fabric of our daily routines, and they’re coming to campuses as well. As consumers of tech, students are accustomed to brands providing highly personalized and convenient experiences made possible by AI and machine learning, and they expect the same level of service at school.

Increasingly, IT professionals are exploring ways to use intelligent technology like chatbots to assist students and replace outdated practices. For instance, why have static forms in portals when schools can digitize the process into a chatbot experience, pulling in data that’s already available in school systems?

Many departments are also looking into adopting an omni-channel support strategy, including AI-powered self-service to handle routine requests. These types of interactions can used for tech support and broader customer service issues.

  • Bringing Faculty and Staff into the Dx Fold

Students aren’t the only ones embracing the advancement of technology in higher ed. Faculty and staff are increasingly relying on technology and/or being expected to do so. IT departments must consider ways to bring employees up to speed with Digital Transformation, ensure they’re comfortable leveraging new technologies, train them on technologies they’ll use every day, and serve their professional development needs. This puts IT front and center in facilitating conversations about such initiatives across the institution.

It’s exciting to see how the promise of technology is revolutionizing the higher ed experience. With a renewed focus on proactive and prepared help desk services, IT departments must find ways to support their institutions through Digital Transformation. The right remote support solution can improve your campus help desk by taking your capabilities to the next level. For many higher ed IT departments, that solution is LogMeIn Rescue. You can try it out for yourself to see if it’s right for your institution.