5 technology trends poised to rock higher education

Trend: Degrees in Big Data analytics

Universities are hoping to capitalize on new technology that makes processing huge amounts of data possible.

Big data centers continue to spring up at research universities, and more graduate degrees focusing on big data analytics are being offered at schools including Rutgers, University of Maryland and Stanford.

The key to big data analysis is not having the technology to gather it, according to Robinson, but, rather, having the right tools to make the data meaningful.

Last February, Ohio State University announced it would be offering the first undergraduate degree in data analytics starting in the fall 2014 semester. Ohio State invested $30 million in one-time equipment and infrastructure and $55 million to renovate existing buildings for data analytics to start the program.

Ohio State’s approach to big data is not the only way schools have sought to tackle the challenges the new field brings. At the University of Maryland the focus has shifted from data analysis to “enabling the hardware storage and processing of research,” according to Robinson.

“It’s dependent on the institution, some of the barriers have been just the technology and the diversity of the systems that we use, and some of it is being able to put processes in place so we can continue to put together useful data,” Robinson said.

Trend: Moving beyond MOOCs

MOOCs are not the only tool available to educators who are seeking to teach students through non-traditional means. Flipped classrooms allow students to view lectures and other course content at home, which frees up time in class for professors to help students understand the concepts they learned outside of the classroom.

At the University of Maryland, professors are taking advantage of the university’s platform for posting video content online, according to Robinson. She said flipped classrooms are using more media content than traditional classrooms, and are driving much of the video demand at the university.

“The larger issue with MOOCs is that the university class room thrives because it is a social environment,” said Farman, who advocates flipped classrooms, and uses video and social media content as learning tools for his courses. “MOOCs have the potential to remove that.”

(Next page: This trend is for everyone)

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