#10: 6 big-impact technologies on the higher-ed horizon

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

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on May 16th of this year, was our #10 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2018 countdown!]

Analytics technologies, makerspaces, and redesigning learning spaces are just a few of the numerous technology developments and trends outlined in a preview of the forthcoming annual Horizon Report.

The Horizon Report was on shaky ground after the New Media Consortium unexpectedly shut its doors in early 2018, but EDUCAUSE acquired the rights to the report and continued the research.

The annual report outlines issues, technologies, and trends that higher-ed leaders should follow and keep in mind as they outline institutional priorities.

It includes three parts: key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education, significant challenges impeding technology adoption in higher education, and important developments in educational technology.

Ed-tech trends

Higher-ed trends are organized in terms of time of impact. Advancing cultures of innovation and cross-institution and cross-sector collaboration are long-term trends expected to drive ed-tech adoption for five or more years.

The proliferation of OER and the rise of new forms of interdisciplinary studies are predicted to drive higher-ed technology adoption for the next 3-5 years, and a growing focus on measuring learning and redesigning learning spaces will drive ed-tech adoption for the next 1-2 years.

Significant challenges to higher-ed technology adoption

Solvable challenges, or those that are easily understood and able to be solved, include authentic learning experiences and improving digital literacy.

Difficult challenges are understandable, but solutions have so far eluded experts. Adapting organizational designs to the future of work, and advancing digital equity, are two such challenges.

Wicked challenges are complex to even define, much less address, according to the report. Those challenges include economic and political pressures, along with rethinking the roles of educators.

Important ed-tech developments

The report organizes important developments based on their time to adoption.

Time to adoption of one year or less:

1. Analytics technologies: Understanding how to use new data tools and enabling analytic skills, including data literacy, computational thinking, and coding, are essential for both faculty and students to advance the understanding and use of big data.

2. Makerspaces: Proponents of makerspaces for education highlight the benefit of engaging learners in creative, higher-order problem-solving through hands-on design, construction, and iteration.

Time to adoption of 2-3 years:

3. Adaptive learning technologies: Adaptive learning technologies, according to EDUCAUSE, “dynamically adjust to the level or type of course content based on an individual’s abilities or skill attainment, in ways that accelerate a learner’s performance with both automated and instructor interventions.”

4. Artificial intelligence: AI has the potential to enhance online learning, adaptive learning software, and research processes in ways that more intuitively respond to and engage with students.

Time to adoption of 4-5 years:

5. Mixed reality: At the intersection of virtual and physical realities is an emerging environment known as mixed reality (MR), where digital and physical objects coexist. This hybrid space integrates virtual technologies into the real world so that viewers cannot distinguish where one world begins and the other ends.

6. Robotics: Robotics programs are focusing on outreach efforts that promote robotics and programming as multidisciplinary STEM learning that can make students better problem solvers for the 21st century. It is also clear that some students with spectrum disorders are more comfortable working with robots to develop better social, verbal, and nonverbal skills.

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Laura Ascione