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What’s new for digital in education for 2018

Having worked in digital field for nearly 20 years you get used to seeing trends come and go. However, in the last couple of years it seems that the speed of advance in technology and how we use technology far outpaces previous years. Here’s some things that we’ve been looking at or dipping our toes into recently:

Mobile usage to the fore

We are now seeing on average that 56% of web usage is coming from mobile traffic and so now more than ever before our websites should not only be responsive but also tailored more specifically for this audience, therefore taking a mobile first approach. However having said this statistics also show that people still spend more time on sites via a desktop computer than a mobile device. As well as this, mobile bounce rates are also much higher. This could suggest a behavioural attitude or that mobile versions of websites are not yet up to scratch.

Big data

Massive amounts of data are collected everyday through our web usage. Organisations are using this data to analyse trends and create solutions based on the insights this data uncovers. Large data sets can be examined and cross referenced allowing us to understand more about our potential audience and offer tailored solutions based on data results.

As part of our ongoing work with FE colleges and new developments on Careerpilot, we've been spending time looking at Labour Market Information (LMI). We’ve cross referenced data sets from HESA, The Office of National Statistics, Unistats and LMI for All in order to create a tool to help students make choices for future education and careers. The first phase of this work resulted in our T-levels web app that maps the 15 subject areas covered by T-levels to occupations.

T-levels app

Chatbots & Virtual Assistants

A chatbot is a bit of software that simulates human conversation. These run on instant messaging platforms and have the ability to engage in conversation with humans and act as virtual personal assistants.

It’s been predicted that by 2019, 20% of all user interactions on phones will take place via virtual personal assistants. It’s also expected that this figure will rise dramatically over the next few years and chatbots will become a part of everyday internet usage.

One of the things we’ve been looking at is how these virtual assistants can be used for colleges and universities as a way to enhance and add to the their current digital offering. An obvious area where this type of technology could be put to good use is in answering everyday questions such as ‘when does the summer term start’ etc. By creating a database of frequently asked questions and answers, theoretically a chatbot could be trained to intelligently answer and respond to questions that are in the database.

What’s new for us

The speed of changes in the digital world have had major effects on small web agencies like ourselves. As the sector gets more complex and diverse, skills sets need to be extended and business objectives have to be realigned so as to keep up with new requirements and advances in all areas of technology.

A couple of years ago we made the decision to work solely in the education sector allowing us to concentrate our efforts in one area. By becoming more focussed it allows us to research this sector's political climate enabling us to understand issues from our clients perspectives, as well as keeping abreast of how new developments in edutech play out.

As our knowledge and understanding of the education sector grows we have started to spot opportunities where we can add value by creating our own solutions. Watch this space to see what we come up with!

Published 11th January 2018