(L-R) Robert Yanckello, Senior Director Analyst and Saher Mahmood, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner

With lockdowns forcing schools, colleges and universities to close their doors and shift to remote learning, education institutions have had to respond quickly to continue operating smoothly. As a result, the industry changed dramatically.

In a short turnaround time, the sector was able to innovate rapidly and shift to digital solutions. 

Although the acceleration of investments in digital tools and initiatives – coupled with the distinctive rise of e-learning – has proven effective, the acceleration of digitisation has also created new challenges around security and insights into student experience, faculty engagement, and IT budgets.

For education CIOs who want to leverage the benefits of digital innovation, addressing these significant challenges and prioritising and optimising digitisation in their organisation will be critical.

Overcoming Security Issues and Enhancing Student Experience

In response to the pandemic, education institutions were forced to hastily reconfigure and adopt digital modes as the primary model of deployment. However, this shift has also exposed the vulnerability of virtual delivery and its potential for compromising businesses and student experience. 

According to the 2021 Gartner Innovation in Crisis Survey, education industry respondents recognised security and student experience as the top business priorities for the year.

As technologies advance and remote learning (including hybrid) becomes the new normal, education CIOs should leverage the increased volume of digitisation to make strategic IT investments that address challenges of security and improve student experience.

To address security concerns, partnering up with the security office will be critical to ensure organisations have a strong backup and incident response plans against attacks that can’t be prevented or detected.

To help enhance student experience and maximise engagement, schools, colleges and higher education institutions can leverage technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) to track engagement, analytics to support adaptive learning, personalisation for students learning at a different pace, and smart campus technology to address equity and access issues.

Faculty Engagement and The New Classroom

The COVID-19 disruption exposed students and faculty alike to new learning technologies, designs, and experiences – with many faculty and staff members adopting new digital working tools for teaching.

Given that educational institutions may adopt a hybrid education model as we return to normal, consolidating a new digital working model will be important.

This will help optimise faculty engagement with the hybrid approach to classroom teaching. Fortunately, the Gartner survey shows that 95% of education industry respondents are already working on providing tools and training to boost employee productivity.

To preserve this momentum, educational institutions will need to build operational equity for their workforce by increasing the percentage of automated business processes, thereby relieving the staff from manual intervention, and increasing their capacity. 

Increased Investment in IT in Education

Some of the challenges triggered by the pandemic for education institutions included learning losses, academic progress, student engagement, and drained budgets. In part, this could be attributed to the rapid and urgent spending on remote capabilities. 

However, increased investment forecast in technology budgets for 2021 can support digital-first delivery models, whether education settings decide to offer in-person, remote, or hybrid teaching. And while some of these investments may be cost-intensive, they can free up resources for other more critical tasks, particularly for those students who need personalised support.

As a result, leveraging technologies that aid operational efficiency and cost savings, such as collaborative tools, cloud technologies, and security solutions, can help education CIOs realign their efforts to overcome these challenges. 

Stakeholder Collaboration Is Key to Success

Schools, colleges and higher education institutions must not lose the momentum gained around digitization. In the last year, education institutions were able to pivot to new systems of working in response to COVID-19 disruptions, with many of these new approaches projected to remain for the long term. A collaborative culture between academia, administration, and IT through adequate representation of stakeholders in the decision-making process will enable the long term and enterprise-wide adoption of new initiatives.

Undeniably, the pandemic has caused major disruption for the education sector. Those centres that can embrace the gains made from the digital innovation achieved in the last year, while also addressing the vulnerabilities that came with it, will benefit from a more efficient and effective working model.

Saher Mahmood, Associate Principal Research Analyst at Gartner & Robert Yanckello, Senior Director Analyst

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page