7 tech predictions for higher education in 2014

“Predictions are challenging, especially when predicting the future.”

For teenagers, the option of anonymity online gives them the freedom to ask whatever they want.

Every year for the past decade, I have blogged about what I think the big ideas and trends around eLearning will be for the following year.  Some of those predictions have been spot on (MOOC-fever in 2009) while others have missed the mark (Confidence based testing in 2007 – I still think we missed the mark by not pushing this concept…).  But, with 2014 on its way, the time has come for some more predilections.

Differently than previous years, I have decided to go for quantity this time.  I’m going to briefly describe 7 trends that I believe will hit their stride, really get (meaningfully) started, or otherwise dot the education landscape.  In other words, here are 7 things I believe you will see blogged about regularly, formally written about in education publications, the subject of grants and other financial opportunities, and represented in numerous conference presentation titles.  Enjoy!

1. Tablets  – Already the dominant product today (most computer manufacturers have already limited creation of laptops, etc), schools will see more utilization of these devices. iOS will settle into a “premium” model due to market penetration. (Yes, the irony of Apple’s dominant position as the market adopted leader is not lost on someone who attended high school in the 1980’s.)Android will be used by the masses because of the “freemium” model. But more than that, the “groove” of curriculum, content, and assessment for education is starting to be felt with regard to these devices that are ubiquitous in many other businesses today. 

While this does not mean more teachers will employ use of social media – one look at the Babson survey finds that college professors are just now reaching the norms of the general population for personal use, while use of these tools in the classroom are still quite low – nor does it mean that K-12 organizations will open up the security gates for more web usage. The fear of life outside a walled garden is still real and still high.But tablets, which can now be seen in several commercials touting their educational relevance, will move into a place of appropriateness in the classroom. From simulations to assessment “packages” combining both software and hardware to better searching/citation aggregation, tablets will find a more relevant home in the walls of academia.

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Lessons from the CEO of the first ever MOOC

There has been much press for the massive open online courses or MOOCs, including in my series of interviews to date with Sebastian Thrun and Daphne Koller, CEOs of Udacity and Coursera respectively. If one is new to these companies, one might be under the impression that the MOOC phenomenon is less than two years old. That is not the case, reports Forbes. The company that many credit as being the first ever MOOC is Advance Learning Interactive Systems ONline, better known as ALISON. Irish-American entrepreneur, Mike Feerick founded that company in 2007, and whereas many other companies in this industry are still trying to determine the business models, Feerick has nearly seven years of testing, experimenting, and succeeding behind him. In this interview, Feerick talks about the genesis of the idea, his rationale for focusing on vocational training, and his vision for the future of the company.

Read the interview at Forbes

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Gates to 2-year colleges: Give MOOCs a try

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At a gathering of community college leaders, Bill Gates urges the educators to experiment with MOOCs. Many of those at the two-year institutions remain skeptical.

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 1: MOOC skepticism

“Flipped” and adaptive learning programs gained traction on campus. A high-profile internet hoax involving a college athlete propelled the term “catfishing” into the public consciousness. MOOCs hit some key stumbling blocks, while the notion of a college degree became more fluid.

Udacity's CEO Sebastian Thrun announces a partnership between the MOOC platform and San Jose State University in January 2013. The project was eventually put on hiatus.

Udacity’s CEO Sebastian Thrun announces a partnership between the MOOC platform and San Jose State University in January 2013. The project was eventually put on hiatus.

These were some of the key ed-tech developments affecting colleges and universities in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you right here.

In this special all-digital publication, the editors of eCampus News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant higher-education technology stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on colleges and universities this year—and how they’ll continue to shape higher education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

1. MOOCs grapple with low completion rates, faculty skepticism, and mixed results.

MOOCs so dominated the national conversation this year that they deserve two spots on our list. And while there have been some successes, such as a MOOC offered by the University of London that garnered a 91-percent student satisfaction rating, the grades have been largely mixed so far, despite all the hype.

In February, a University of California-Irvine professor stopped teaching midway through a MOOC in microeconomics offered through the Coursera platform, saying he had disagreements on how to conduct the free class for thousands of students around the world.

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‘Big data’ could create ‘dystopian future’ for students

Using “big data” to help match people to courses could cut freedom of choice and ultimately put students off higher education, an expert has warned. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute, said there was danger of creating a dystopian future comparable to science fiction films like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. In that film data is used by the state to sentence people for crimes they have yet to commit. The danger was that data could be used to tell students what subject they should specialise in before they started their degree, Professor Mayer-Schönberger said. “There has been much debate over last 30 years about streaming and tracking students from elementary school, and putting them on a particular track based on their successes and failures in particular standardised tests,” he told Times Higher Education, adding that this approach was particularly prevalent in the US.

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MOOCs: Inflated Expectations, Early Disappointments

Massive open online courses–online platforms offering courses and educational materials to very large numbers of people–captured our imagination in the Fall of 2011 when, unexpectedly, a free online course in artificial intelligence given by two Stanford University professors attracted 160,000 students, writes Irving Wladawsky-Berger for the Wall Street Journal‘s CIO Journal. The NY Times called 2012 The Year of the MOOC. Three major MOOC platforms were launched that year, the for-profit, VC-backed Udacity and Coursera, which were each started by Stanford faculty members; and the not-for-profit edX, a collaborative venture of MIT and Harvard University. They established partnerships with a number of universities which offer their own online courses on the platforms.  Other institutions around the world have also launched their own MOOCs.

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 2: MOOC business models

“Flipped” and adaptive learning programs gained traction on campus. A high-profile internet hoax involving a college athlete propelled the term “catfishing” into the public consciousness. MOOCs hit some key stumbling blocks, while the notion of a college degree became more fluid.

ed-tech These were some of the key ed-tech developments affecting colleges and universities in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you right here.

In this special all-digital publication, the editors of eCampus News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant higher-education technology stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on colleges and universities this year—and how they’ll continue to shape higher education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

2. Universities struggle to identify an appropriate business model for MOOCs.

Last year, the biggest higher-ed tech story was the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs), as they took higher education by storm. In 2013, however, some growing pains were evident as universities considered how to adopt MOOCs in a way that makes sense for their institution.

Should universities grant credit to students who complete MOOCs? If so, how can they ensure the integrity of students’ work? Do MOOCs represent a viable business investment? Can charging a nominal fee for participation offset the costs of MOOC production or even help turn a profit? These were some of the questions that campus leaders faced this year.

In January, a new business model for MOOCs emerged, as nine universities piloted a program called MOOC2Degree that offers students free access to MOOCs for credit in hopes of increasing college enrollment and accessibility.

Shortly after that, Coursera announced that five of its MOOCs were recommended for credit by the American Council on Education (ACE), opening the floodgates on offering MOOCs for credit.

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‘We are creating Walmarts of higher education’

Universities in South Dakota, Nebraska, and other states have cut the number of credits students need to graduate. A proposal in Florida would let online courses forgo the usual higher-education accreditation process. A California legislator introduced a measure that would have substituted online courses for some of the brick-and-mortar kind at public universities. Some campuses of the University of North Carolina system are mulling getting rid of history, political science, and various others of more than 20 “low productive” programs. The University of Southern Maine may drop physics. And governors in Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin have questioned whether taxpayers should continue subsidizing public universities for teaching the humanities. Under pressure to turn out more students, more quickly and for less money, and to tie graduates’ skills to workforce needs, higher-education institutions and policy makers have been busy reducing the number of required credits, giving credit for life experience, and cutting some courses, while putting others online. Now critics are raising the alarm that speeding up college and making it cheaper risks dumbing it down, the Atlantic reports.

 

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 3: Big Data

“Flipped” and adaptive learning programs gained traction on campus. A high-profile internet hoax involving a college athlete propelled the term “catfishing” into the public consciousness. MOOCs hit some key stumbling blocks, while the notion of a college degree became more fluid.

techThese were some of the key ed-tech developments affecting colleges and universities in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you right here.

In this special all-digital publication, the editors of eCampus News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant higher-education technology stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on colleges and universities this year—and how they’ll continue to shape higher education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

3. ‘Big Data’ is changing the way colleges operate.

Purdue University students have developed a software program that uses Big Data to help police target where campus crime could happen.

A private Australian university is using data analytics to better understand the massive amounts of student feedback collected by faculty members every semester.

And the Lone Star College System is using Big Data to understand where it is most at risk of losing students, helping administrators evaluate how its policies are supporting or hindering student success.

These are just a few of the uses of “Big Data,” or the collection and analysis of large data sets to improve operations, that have emerged on college campuses this year. And, just as the uses of Big Data have evolved, the tools available to help campus officials make sense of all this information have evolved as well.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s new George W. Donaghey Foundation Emerging Analytics Center is combining Big Data and 3D virtual reality in a $5 million project that it hopes can help researchers visualize massive amounts of data and attract more business to the state.

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