horizon report

#9: 6 essential 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.

Challenges to Technology Adoption

The report highlights significant challenges impeding technology adoption in higher ed, which include:

(Solvable; understand how to solve):

  • Improving Digital Literacy: Due to the multitude of elements comprising digital literacy, “higher education leaders are challenged to obtain institution-wide buy-in to support all stakeholders in developing these competencies. Frameworks are helping institutions assess current staff capabilities, identify growth areas, and develop strategies to implement digital literacy practices,” states the Horizon report.
  • Integrating Formal and Informal Learning: The report reveals that there is a lack of scalable methods of formally documenting and assessing skills mastered outside of the classroom, and adapting pricing structures and financial aid models to fit new degree options.

(Difficult; understand issue but solutions are elusive):

  • Achievement Gap: The challenge facing higher education is to cater to all learners’ needs, “aligning postsecondary programs with deeper learning outcomes and the acquisition of 21st century skills, enabled by personalized learning strategies and data-driven student support systems that foster goal achievement and gainful employment,” says the report.
  • Advancing Digital Equity: The report states that more than 30 million Americans lack access to high-speed internet. Technology plays an important role in advancing the availability of higher education for underrepresented student populations and ensuring accessibility of web materials for disabled students. Online learning is enabled by high-speed internet access, while use of open educational resources can provide cost savings to students.

(Wicked; complex even to define, much less address):

  • Managing Knowledge Obsolescence: “Staying organized and current presents a challenge to academics in a world where educational needs, software, and devices advance at a strenuous rate,” highlights the report. Just as faculty and staff are able to master one technology, it seems a new version launches. “Institutions must grapple with the longevity of technologies and devise back-up plans before making large investments.”
  • Rethinking the Roles of Educators: The shift to student-centered learning requires educators to act as guides and facilitators. As technology-enabled approaches gather steam, many institutions across the world are rethinking the primary responsibilities of educators. “Related to these growing expectations are the implications of societal changes and evolving faculty models where an increasing percentage of classes are being taught by non-tenure track instructors,” says the report.

For much more in-depth information on these trends, technologies and challenges, as well as information on methodology, resources, and technology planning guides for institutions, read the full report, “NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition.

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