future higher ed themes

6 influential technologies on the higher ed horizon

Annual Horizon Report details short-and long-term technologies, trends that will impact higher education in the next 5 years.

The rise of robots is no longer science fiction; and any institution interested in remaining relevant in the next five years should start advancing “cultures of innovation.” These are just two of the revelations part of the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s (ELI) 2016 Higher Education Edition of the annual Horizon Report.

The report, which decides which trends and technologies will have a dramatic influence on higher ed in the next 5 years thanks to a panel of 58 education and technology experts from 16 countries on 5 continents, aims to help inform the choices that institutions are making about technology to improve, support, or extend teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher ed across the world.

With more than 14 years of research and publications, NMC says that the report can be regarded as “the world’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake in education.”

Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption

According to the report, the trends that will affect technology use and adoption in higher ed are:

(Short-Term, 1-2 years):

  • Growing focus on measuring learning: a renewed interest in assessment and the wide variety of methods and tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, and other educational needs of students. “The proliferation of data mining software and developments in online education, mobile learning, and learning management systems are coalescing toward learning environments that leverage analytics and visualization software to portray learning data in a multidimensional and portable manner. In online and blended courses, data can reveal how student actions contribute to their progress and specific learning gains,” states the report.
  • Increasing use of blended learning designs: According to the report, higher ed institutions are upping the ante of innovation in these digital environments, which are widely considered to be ripe for new ideas, services, and products. “Progress in learning analytics, adaptive learning, and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of blended learning and keep it compelling, though many of these methods are still the subjects of research by online learning providers and institutions.”

(Mid-Term, 3-5 years):

  • Redesigning learning spaces: “More universities are helping to facilitate emerging pedagogies and strategies, such as the flipped classroom, by rearranging learning environments to accommodate more active learning. Educational settings are increasingly designed to support project-based interactions with attention to greater mobility, flexibility, and multiple device usage. Institutions are upgrading wireless bandwidth to create ‘smart rooms’ that support web conferencing and other methods of remote, collaborative communication. Large displays and screens are being installed to enable collaboration on digital projects and informal presentations.”
  • Shift to deeper learning approaches: To encourage student motivation, instructors need to be able to make clear connections between the curriculum and the real world, and how the new knowledge and skills will impact their students. “Project-based learning, challenge-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and similar methods are fostering more active learning experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.”

(Long-Term, 5 or more years):

  • Advancing cultures of innovation: “There is a growing consensus among many higher education thought leaders that institutional leadership and curricula could benefit from adopting agile startup models,” notes the report. “Educators are working to develop new approaches and programs based on these models that stimulate top-down change and can be implemented across a broad range of institutional settings.
  • Rethinking how institutions work: With an emphasis on making students more work-savvy, institutions are looking to new policy initiatives, programs, and curriculum that encourage students to work with peers from different disciplinary backgrounds on innovative solutions to complex problems. There is also an emphasis on exploring alternate methods of delivery and credentialing “in order to accommodate a rapidly increasing student population and the diversity of their needs.”

(Next page: The 6 influential technologies on the horizon)