The pandemic has been a disruptor for higher education, exposing areas that can be improved for students and higher education institutions.
Nearly 20 percent of respondents in a study of U.S. college students reported having difficulty maintaining access to technology, including broken hardware, data limits, and connectivity problems. The same study showed that students of lower socioeconomic status and students of color disproportionately experienced hardships, resulting in lower grade point averages.
Now wireless “un-carrier” T-Mobile is partnering with institutions so they can better serve their students, on campus and off.
“The focus in higher ed is on strategic partnerships with universities and to solve not only the technical challenges that the universities face, but those challenges of access right and equity that students are facing,” says Michael Kubit, former Penn State CIO, who’s currently a T-Mobile higher education industry segment advisor.
Preparing students for the future starts by giving them access to the best tools and technology today.
As part of their T-Mobile for Higher Education program, the wireless company is helping higher education institutions solve connectivity challenges and provides access to technology and equity for students.
For example, the company, which is America’s largest 5G network, is providing wireless connectivity to up to 2,000 students at Western Governors University (WGU), the nation’s largest nonprofit online university. This is helping close the digital divide and creating more equitable access to online higher education opportunities for students of color, and those from lower income households, as well as students in rural areas, who otherwise wouldn’t have reliable broadband access.
“Coming out of the pandemic and into the next chapter of things, we now realize that it’s almost never going to be good enough to rely only on in-person, in-room education,” says
Tim Johnson, director of IoT sales in the public sector at T-Mobile.
The goals are to level the playing field for all students, and for learning experiences to be seamless and safe, whether students are distance learning or in-person. When everyone has equitable access and connectivity, students and educators benefit from a better overall learning experience.
“They can literally have a hybrid classroom where it feels like everybody’s in the room, even if everybody’s not in the room,” he says.
This is another way T-Mobile is connecting students. Last year, they launched Project 10Million, a $10.7B initiative offering free internet connectivity — including wireless hotspots, free high-speed data, and access to low-cost laptops and tablets — to millions of underserved K-12 student households. Through this and other initiatives, they’ve connected over 2.5 million students across the country with free or highly subsidized service.
Universities are focused on the pillars of safety, fiscal optimization, health and wellness, sustainability, and environment and life experience.
“How do you help a university focus on its core business, which is teaching and learning, research, and outreach?” asks Kubit. “As a CIO, my thinking was always to drive down the operational and capital costs of commodity technologies and redirect those savings to invest in innovation and those things that differentiate the university or contribute to the core mission.”
The company has built an infrastructure that can transform campuses with fully integrated plans, such as panic buttons, leak detection, smart refrigeration, noise control, air quality, digital signage, and more.
Johnson says IoT can make campuses “healthier, safer, and smarter.” It can also help improve a university’s efficiency and overall costs. The infrastructure can empower new ways of learning at colleges and universities, large and small, and provide greater access and equity for students.
Now is the time to implement these tools. To find out more, including how your institution can get started, visit t-mobile.com/highered.