improvement trends

14 hot higher ed trends for 2017

Educators and tech leaders look back on 2016; predict where higher ed trends in teaching and learning will head this new year.

thumbnail_jamiEnterprise Apps like will be Infused with AI Capabilities

By Jami Morshed, Unit4

We’re starting to see the emergence of Intelligent apps where enterprise applications are infused with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. New virtual personal assistants have the potential to transform the higher education workspace. From applying to college, to arriving on campus, declaring a major, signing up courses and eventually graduation, there are a multitude of ways bots can help to streamline the process. Through a Natural Language Interface (NLI), or a more streamlined approach where a bot works behind the scenes delivering information through the students preferred NLI, such as Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, these personal assistants will begin to simplify university administration for students. The applications of this technology do not stop at the student either. Imagine staff at Universities having the ability to leverage personal digital assistants to automate much of their manual tasks so they can free up time for more high value tasks such as helping students success and helping their institution achieve their strategic goals.

Jami Morshed is the vice president of global higher education at Unit4. His responsibilities include the Unit4 Global Center of Excellence, which helps institutions prepare for the future through scalable and comprehensive software solutions that streamline and modernize core business processes while eliminating the burden of managing ever-changing technology.

mmoschetto_highresheadshotUsing Technology for Energy Savings

By Marc Moschetto, Chief marketing officer of Dude Solutions

In 2016, mobile device adoption continued to increase in colleges and universities and with it the growing need for effective mobile device management. Laptops, tablets and smartphones have the benefit of allowing both faculty and students to have a host of useful information at their fingertips, but this accessibility can also come with some challenges–namely the bandwidth and infrastructure needed to keep up with those devices. This trend impacts IT and facilities departments, as buildings must have the proper infrastructure to support increased technology.

Looking ahead, a renewed focus on energy will take place in 2017. Energy usage and costs are rising substantially in higher education (it’s the 2nd largest operations budget line-item after labor). Utility costs are also climbing, especially HVAC and cooling usage in facilities. However, institutions are beginning to use technology to achieve energy efficiencies and savings. Additionally, one of the most prominent trends we’re seeing is the need to provide increasingly granular analysis and reporting. By leveraging data, public institutions can demonstrate they’re being good stewards of taxpayer funds and both public and private colleges and universities can justify staffing and capital planning levels. Individuals from operations and maintenance management are using data in a more insightful and actionable way, which includes benchmarking their own performance against that of their peers.

A proven, technology marketing executive with 20+ years of experience and deep Cloud/software-as-a-service domain expertise, Marc Moschetto serves as Dude Solutions Chief Marketing Officer. Marc is responsible for increasing Dude Solutions’ brand visibility and driving demand generation via a strategic and comprehensive integrated marketing program. Previously, Marc served as vice president of global marketing for WorkForce Software where his strategic and tactical leadership helped to significantly increase the company’s revenue and valuation. 

liz_dietz_workday_headshotBridging the Gap from Education to Occupation

By Liz Dietz, Workday

As business needs shift, so do the requirements for workforce skills. This shift, in turn, is impacting higher education learning models and how institutions equip graduates with the skills they need—beyond the traditional classroom—to succeed in the workplace. In 2017, we’ll continue to see colleges and universities adapt to new learning models–such as competency-based education–and adopt modern administrative systems that not only support competencies, credentials, and extended transcripts, but systems that provide comprehensive data and insights around student progress and success.

Liz Dietz is vice president, Student Strategy and Product Management at Workday.

geoffirvineheadshotMicro-Credentials and Badging–More Wet Feet, More Innovation and Proof of Concept

By Geoff Irvine, CEO, Chalk & Wire

2017 will be the year that more institutions dip their toes in the alternative credentialing and badging lake. IMS Global’s involvement in open badges adds obvious heft to the acceleration and the adoption of the Open Badges Standard. This will in turn drive developers in the field to standardize, enhance, and automate highly portable, integrated, micro-credentialing solutions as 2017 unfolds.

Some schools, pressed by low enrollments and/or poor retention, and a desire to leap frog their competition will pick up the tools to motivate millennial students, hungry for more frequent, slickly packaged, success-hits than the macro-credential degree is offering.

Others will be working to re-package their courses into clusters and to offer them up to a large number of non-traditional, older students as professional development solutions. Aside from the obvious time and financial saving to the learners, this approach maintains the status quo at the faculty and course level. This is the more likely trend than the tear-downs and reconstructions required by those who are very serious about competency-based education.

Others will have different, less curricular motives, and will center their efforts at both ends of their institutional lifecycle: admissions, working to get a better holistic picture of applicants. At the other end, student services/life departments may see value for the technology and its underlying concept of tracking skills in context. They may hand the badging power tool over to their career services people who have been striving hard with little budget.

These early-adopter institutions will be wagering on differentiation points by innovating to attract and keep students, while their more conservative peers look on with interest.

Geoff Irvine is the CEO of Chalk & Wire, an assessment platform and ePortfolio provider.

anewman%5b1%5dGreater Innovation at Scale

By Adam Newman, Tyton Partners

In 2016 there was a good deal of buzz concerning the reimagining of higher education. We saw keen interest in alternative programs and models —nano-degrees, bootcamps, workforce-oriented education models, competency-based education that sought to substitute for traditional programs. However, predictions that these alternatives would provide viable alternatives with traditional degree pathways proved premature, particularly across the diversity of the student landscape. All these models willI continue to see growth and expansion in 2017, but scale and level of access will remain moderate at best. But the real value of these new models shouldn’t necessarily be measured by market penetration, anyway; rather how can they serve to catalyze and spur institutions to rethink their own roles and opportunities, and adapt and innovate more quickly to meet the needs of today’s student.

In 2017, we are likely to see this same incubation model—where small, pilot programs provide the data and insight that allow for greater innovation at scale—in the arena of accreditation reform. The EQUIP program signaled that the federal government sees value in this approach, and they are staking money currently on eight pilot programs that will begin to test new accreditation and evaluation options for the higher education community. Several of the pilots are highly focused on workforce alignment and outcomes, which will also continue to be hot topic this coming year.  Those institutions who can define their target market and target student along defined industries, geographies or career pathways will have the greatest success moving forward.

Adam is a founding partner of Tyton Partners, a strategy consulting and investment banking platform serving the global knowledge sector. Adam guides companies, non-profits, and investors through critical organizational inflection points to enable them to achieve their objectives. He has extensive experience working across all segments of the PreK-12, postsecondary, and enterprise and professional education markets. Prior to founding Tyton Partners, Adam was a director at Berkery Noyes, where he originated the firm’s strategic advisory practice in education and launched the Venture Capital in Education Summit, an annual event convening the most dynamic and innovative early-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Previously, Adam served as managing vice president at Eduventures, leading the firm’s Industry Solutions division. Adam launched his career as a 6-12th grade English teacher and coach.

(Next page: Higher ed trends on data, learner choice, and transparency)