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7 tech predictions for higher education in 2014

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6. Constructivism Will Flourish – Just like neuroscience (above), more and more “movements” have emerged out of and around constructivist teaching and learning that are finally getting both the press and the implementations they likely deserve. From the veteran PBL to up and comers like the Maker Movement, Flipped Learning, Challenge-Based Learning, Entrepreneurial Linked Education, etc., people are realizing that the old apprenticeship model is again possible, at scale, thanks to technology.

That connection between the learner and real products, services, or ideas is, to many, a fundamental “missing link” with most education today.2014 will see a surge of these models showcased in schools through grants won, research performed, and implementation ideas illustrated at conferences.Journal articles will see ties between these methods and everything from Common Core Standards to “high level” teaching and learning to assessment and beyond. At the same time more software and “app” solutions will make their way into the mix as OER and commercially driven solutions are needed to continue scaling the ways students and teachers create, consume, remix, and share. 

7. Competency Based Learning – This isn’t entirely fair actually.My “crystal ball” was more like a cheat sheet in this case.In fact, my prognostication was just ‘scooped’ as I read about in an Inside Higher Education article yesterday. 

In 2013 the DOE allowed financial aid to be given within the framework of a CBL program.At the same time, at a meeting I attended through Pearson, they suggested that Competency Based Learning will become the “norm” for colleges and universities within 5-10 years and as such, are seeking some “Experimental Design” programs to start delivering a CBL model today. This declaration will scare a lot of schools, but a few will step up to the challenge, trying to be first to market and also so as to learn what “not to do” early, as they strive to create meaningful competency assessment and reporting for their programs.Of course this also means that the rhetoric of CBL will begin to see a LOT more press as well.

After all, some opponents of CBL say that it will just bring the culture of heavy usage, high stakes testing to Higher Education like NCLB or Common Core produced in K-12. Some argue that competencies will dilute critical thinking and problem solving, instead giving priority to memorization and less meaningful, “lower level” education. On the other side of the debate is the notion that CBL will promote faster, cheaper, and more personalized education, giving students a realistic chance to graduate and get into the workforce both quickly AND highly qualified.2014 will see the start of an interesting decade (or more) of questions and answers around the future of higher education…

Here’s to a great New Year. May you and yours find the best possible education experiences at every turn.

Good luck and good teaching.

Dr. Jeff D. Borden is the vice president of Academic Strategy & Instruction at Pearson.

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