What edtech trends will take top billing on campuses in the new year, like this crystal ball with 2020 predictions.

20 edtech predictions for higher ed in 2020


What edtech trends will take top billing on campuses in the new year?

We asked educators, edtech executives and stakeholders to look to the future and share their thoughts and predictions about what trends will be most prominent in 2020.

In addition to the usual suspects–artificial intelligence (AI), active learning, and microcredentials–people predicted a larger focus on community partnerships, more dedication to underserved students, and a need for institutions to prove their return on investment to students.

Read on to see what’s in store for 2020…

Darren Catalano, CEO, HelioCampus; former VP of Analytics at the University of Maryland Global Campus:

• There will continue to be tensions and pushback over data being an accurate single measure of success and performance of higher ed. Many universities and colleges feel that purely quantitative measurements do not represent their progress, and rightly so. Over the next few years, higher education will come to a comprise that includes qualitative data for a fuller picture. Student success is highly complex and there will always be blind spots in the data. This is why data storytelling is so important, to provide context and commentary to the quantitative metrics.

• Higher education’s aversion to the cloud will finally be over. While the benefits of the cloud have previously been eclipsed by concerns about security, compliance, control and cost, advancement in the way these services are offered and greater clarity around how they are secured will help institutions become more comfortable with the cloud. There will be an acceleration away from on- premise systems toward hosted systems to relieve the pressure on IT and reduce maintenance and support costs.

• Data privacy and ethics will remain prominent issues that institutions, vendors and students will need to establish best practices around. As increasingly more data is available, those gathering and analyzing it must be good custodians of the data they collect even if there are challenges along the way. We need to have meaningful conversations about how to best apply the insights data can illuminate so we can serve students both effectively and sustainably.

Dana Corey, GM/VP of Sales, Avocor:

• In 2020 and the coming decade, we’ll continue to see growing expectations from students, administration, and faculty to support the need for collaborative, engaging, and interactive teaching and training. Technology that is advanced in capability but also easily and readily-accessible within campus buildings or departments is a big part of those expectations–and we’re seeing that collaboration technology, such as interactive video displays and software, can help meet these needs.

• Higher education institutions can take advantage of a variety of benefits of interactive AV to enhance classroom and faculty training engagement with students, guest professor presentations, real-time collaboration sessions, and more. What has become clear in the last couple of years is that while new features and technology are interesting for colleges and universities, the most important factor is that the technologies, such as digital whiteboards, are intuitive, easy-to-use, and work with the technology and platforms that students and faculty already use. Ease-of-use is critical for higher education installations where, even more than in an office with standardized hardware and software, the people using the system will have different exposure to technology, preferred platforms, and levels of tech savvy.

• And as faculty in these institutions face an increasing amount of required ongoing certifications and training, collaboration displays are the ideal way for them to receive training virtually, reducing the amount of time and budget spent on travel and other associated costs with having people attend a physical meeting offsite.

Adi Dar, CEO, Cyberbit:

• Based on the huge spikes we’re seeing in the demand for cyber range training, a consortium of universities or a cybersecurity accreditation organization such as SANS or the EC-Council will create a specialized industry certification for SOC analysts. As cyber “first responders” during a cyberattack, it’s both reasonable and practical to require SOC analysts to demonstrate their proficiency dealing with cyber emergencies, similar to how pilots, soldiers, trauma surgeons, paramedics, and firemen are. We envision any SOC certification to have a strong hands-on component. Just as people need to pass a driver’s test to get their driver’s license, there will be a growing push to have SOC staff validate their competency before getting “cleared” to work in the SOC.

Dr. Bret Fund, PhD, Head of Cybersecurity, Flatiron School:

• Curriculum will prioritize practical training in controlled lab settings. Gone are the days when cyber attacks were easily manageable threats, and with ransomware attacks up 500 percent, classrooms must keep pace with digital innovation and leveraging cutting-edge technology. Today’s cybersecurity graduates go through college but come out woefully unprepared for life on the job, having absorbed more theoretical knowledge than practical skills. Even experts agree that traditional “rules-based” security practices that use the typical lecture-based training is ineffective. In 2020, teachers will integrate more real-world puzzles and scenarios, providing safe lab environments to unleash worms and viruses and help students understand how and why they spread. Colleges will look to produce lab models on their campuses, or partner with external agencies that can teach students these critical skills in a controlled environment.

Gary Newgaard, Vice President, Public Sector, Pure Storage:

• In 2020 and beyond, artificial intelligence (AI) presents an opportunity to transform research capabilities and higher education operations – and colleges and universities are becoming more comfortable with AI acting as the decision maker. The technology can drive and deliver insights – and AI applications can scale and be applicable in more contexts. In higher education, a modern data experience built on a data-centric architecture enables AI to free up valuable resources that were originally consumed by routine tasks and refocus those resources on learning.”

Anthony Rotoli, CEO, Terra Dotta:

• The traditional notion of semester-long study abroad is changing as we’ve seen an expansion of non-classroom based education abroad opportunities. We see this trend continuing in 2020 with more internships, non-credit and service education abroad programs on the rise. These expanded options will enable more students to gain valuable experiences abroad that contribute to their post-graduate employability and overall global outlook.

• As supporting the mental health of college students is a growing issue on campuses here in the U.S., in 2020 we expect to see more proactive programs being deployed to address these issues while students are abroad. This includes mitigating challenges around facilitating disclosure of issues as well as managing geographic licensing regulations around counseling or medication disbursement.

• Also, in the world of education abroad, environmental consciousness is on the rise. Look for a stronger focus on “Do No Harm” criteria for study abroad programs, which takes into consideration the possibilities of impacts on a geographic region after a trip has been completed.

• Lastly, we expect to see campuses continuing to adapt to reduced international student enrollments by putting processes in place to proactively help international students feel welcome and to help them navigate the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) process and complete other new Optional Practical Training (OPT) paperwork seamlessly.

Jared Stein, Vice President of Higher Education Strategy, Canvas:

• As higher education continues to seek ways to reduce tuition impact on students, grow enrollments, and align program outcomes with careers, we will see a dramatic increase in corporate partnerships. While many companies have offered some kind of financial support for continuing education as a benefit to their employees, we may see an increase in corporate programs that cover 100 percent of tuition costs for many employees.

• Skills matter, especially to employers. In order to get the return on investment, companies would gravitate toward partnering with educational institutions based on a match between desired competencies and specialized program outcomes. These programs will bake-in outcomes assessment and collaborate with corporate partners to track the impact of the educational experience on relevant company metrics. As companies begin to measure the impact of education on employee engagement and retention, they will more readily cover the cost of tuition as an employee benefit.

• We may also see a pivot in HR departments from attracting talent with the greatest experience or pedigree toward attracting talent with high potential for development.

Dr. David Turk, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Nyack College:

• Partnerships with local communities will be imperative to help revitalize and build up communities (prison programs, local associations like NYC clergy and NYPD, etc.).

• Institutions will focus on developing degree programs that lead to licensure, especially in much-needed fields such as marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, nursing, etc.

• Campus leaders also will focus on serving an underserved student body, such as first-generation students from immigrant families.

• Mission will be more critical than ever, and colleges must ensure their mission is relevant to the populations they serve. Colleges were founded to serve specific populations of students, but there is no guarantee that those populations will continue to enroll if students don’t perceive that the Colleges mission meets their needs. After a period of major decline, art students once again see Pratt as the go-to school; however, black students continue to abandon HBCU’s except in a few cases.

Laura Ascione