9 Innovative Ideas That Colleges Are Adopting

Bashar Hanna
4 min readJan 16, 2024

There is no question that the post-secondary school landscape is evolving to remain relevant and take advantage of the latest research and technology. Some of these new ideas are really shaping how education is delivered and improving accessibility for more students at the same time.

This makes attending college all the more exciting and rewarding. Read on for a selection of the approaches in play and the impact of this ingenuity.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is just coming into its own in terms of the various applications where it can assist. In education, the technology is being used by colleges to efficiently deliver financial aid to students, send reminders when tuition is due, give prompts to register for classes, raise enrollment numbers, and improve student retention.

At the instructor level, AI is informing students about assignment deadlines and other important matters. Furthermore, it can function as a sort of virtual assistant that is able to answer questions students may have.

Augmented and virtual reality

The power of virtual reality to supplement the in-person instruction experience is being discovered on many campuses. The advantage of this approach is that it can be an effective way to encourage more interaction between professors and students. It has become a very popular learning method among participants, with one study finding that about 97% of students favor courses that use VR.

Blended learning

Essentially, blended learning involves a combination of in-person lessons and online teaching. This method was used extensively during the pandemic and, as a result, many universities saw that there was definite value in continuing. By offering blended learning, educational institutions are able to secure their place in the competition for potential students. This hybrid model continues to attract new learners and fosters improved collaboration between students and teachers.

Competency-based education

When education is based on developing an individual’s competencies, it can support them in many ways. By adopting this focus, students are encouraged to be more self-aware and view their strengths in regard to transferable skills that can be employed in different occupations. This is a more student-centered technique that will also help individuals to pinpoint where personal improvement is needed and give them a roadmap to enhance specific competencies.

Online learning

Taking instruction online is sometimes referred to as flipped learning or video streaming. In this scenario, teachers assign reading material and video lectures to students who are expected to complete this as homework before coming physically to class. By flipping lessons in this way, individuals have enough background to engage more with instructors and classmates in person and really have a good discussion about the subject matter. The result is more thoughtful discourse and a better grasp of the lesson.

Open curriculum

While this is not necessarily novel, it is still worthy of note. Open curriculum has been helpful in several ways. For instance, the opportunity to construct one’s own program with the guidance of a faculty advisor can assist students to tailor their education to the type of career that interests them. In addition, it inspires learners to explore other areas of study when they are not limited to particular offerings. Finally, having this flexibility encourages individuals to stay the course and complete their education.

3D printing

The beauty of 3D printing labs is that they provide students with a readily accessible hands-on learning experience. The ability to design a product and quickly manufacture a prototype is not to be underestimated. By using 3D labs, students are able to learn the design process, collaborating and trouble-shooting with their peers. This type of learning is beneficial in preparing students for future working environments.

Social media

You may not be surprised to hear that approximately 72 percent of people living in the U.S. who are under 30 years of age use social media. Recognizing that the vast majority of their students are regularly using various online social platforms, many colleges have taken it upon themselves to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is where they reach students with information about campus events and permit individuals to post about their experiences at school, raising the institution’s profile and attracting new applicants.

Virtual labs

Another innovative action that some universities are taking is setting up virtual labs. In these situations, students can participate in a gamified environment to follow a storyline, make choices, have mistakes, and study the outcome of their course of action. Even if students do not have much experience with virtual games, this can be an interesting and effective way to learn new information.

In closing

In a departure from traditional teaching methods, colleges and universities across America are upping their game. By employing AI, virtual reality, blended and online learning, competency-based education, 3D printing, open curriculum and other innovations, they are maintaining their relevance in an ever-changing world.



Bashar Hanna

Dr. Bashar Hanna has spent nearly four years as the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University.