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SXSWedu: Reducing Inefficiencies In Higher Ed

October 15, 2020

The place to look for cost savings isn’t with the faculty or the teaching itself,” Noodle Partners CEO John Katzman said Tuesday on the SXSWedu stage. “It’s everything around the teaching that adds up to noise and inefficiency.”

‍Katzman joined the highly anticipated panel “The Digital Transformation of Higher Education” with ACE president Ted Mitchell, UT Austin administrator Mary Knight and UNC Chapel Hill strategy professor Paul Friga.

‍Lowering the cost of higher ed through the strategic use of technology was the central theme of the discussion– a goal that Katzman believes can be achieved by thinking carefully about how to lower the administrative costs associated with online programs.

‍Attendees had the opportunity to submit questions to the panelists. “Does digital transformation always increase quality?” an audience member asked. The answer, the panelists said, is complex– but if we understand that students are approaching learning differently than they were even ten years ago, we’re on the right track.

‍“Students today are digital natives. In some ways, they are less reluctant to communicate with a faculty member by text or email than they are to sit in office hours,” Mitchell said. “The student experience is already being enhanced.”

‍But when it comes to lowering costs, Katzman noted that it’s not instructional costs that are skyrocketing in recent years, but the support associated with fostering student success and retention.

‍“This is where tech can be the most effective,” Katzman said. “Once we really figure that out, then we can deliver it as scale and ultimately make institutions more effective. That’s how we improve teaching and learning.”

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