As higher education prepares for a new semester in the new year, it’s always helpful to look back on lessons learned, trends, and developments from 2023.
Increased flexibility and course delivery were top-of-mind for students and instructors alike in 2023, and this flexibility will continue to be a driving factor in students’ choices in 2024.
The new kid on the block, AI, skyrocketed in popularity and brought with it questions surrounding academic integrity and the need for workforce skills around developing technologies.
We asked edtech executives, stakeholders, and experts to share some of their thoughts and predictions about where they think edtech is headed in 2024.
Here’s what they had to say about equity, cybersecurity, diversity, analytics, and more:
Microcredential adoption will continue to accelerate. More colleges and universities will offer a wider range of microcredentials to provide alternatives for people to engage in meaningful learning without forcing them to enroll in a full degree program. This will also drive increased adoption of competency-based learning models.
Amrit Ahluwalia, Senior Director of Strategic Insights, Modern Campus
Colleges and universities will prioritize the student experience: To stem growing stop-out and drop-out numbers, higher ed institutions will begin to invest in mechanisms to improve student belonging and communication and will look for approaches to accelerate degree completion.
Amrit Ahluwalia, Senior Director of Strategic Insights, Modern Campus
In 2024, higher education will continue to be significantly influenced by the integration and maturation of AI technologies. AI in education, far from being a transient trend, has become a cornerstone in reshaping how we teach and learn. Tools like ChatGPT have transitioned from being futuristic concepts to practical realities in educational settings. This year will be marked by the shift from viewing AI merely as a tool for efficiency to recognizing it as a fundamental enhancer of human capabilities. In this context, skills like prompt engineering will become essential, as the way we interact with AI tools will be critical in achieving effective educational outcomes. AI’s role in education will evolve from automating tasks to offering personalized, real-time assistance to learners. It can enable educators to provide a more individualized learning experience, ensuring each student can learn in the most effective way for them. We will delve deeper into harnessing AI’s potential as a copilot that complements the human elements in learning and teaching – not just in terms of content delivery but also in reshaping the entire educational landscape to be more inclusive, responsive, and aligned with the evolving needs of learners and educators alike.
Anant Agarwal, Founder, edX & Chief Platform Officer, 2U
While the convergence of AV and IT is nothing new, it’s still in its early adoption stage when it comes to end points such as displays, which have increasingly become smart devices – often with embedded system-on-chip (SOC) technology and network connectivity. Like many enterprise organizations, today’s higher education institutions are subject to cyber terrorists that continue to find new ways to exploit network security holes. Leaders of these institutions will want to ensure their digital devices are specifically engineered to offer the most comprehensive display security. Threats to be aware of include unauthorized access via network to user information and information leaks to outside parties; network data that can be peeked at or tampered with; whether the display firmware can be tampered with by a malicious third party or program, resulting in tampering or loss of security features of display; data loss and information leakage due to infection by malicious viruses; and even unintentional power off, setting changes, caused by general user’s incorrect operation.
Gary Bailer, Director of Product Management, Pro AV Products, Sharp
As the enrollment cliff nears and more institutions move to a data-driven approach to attract and retain students as well as implement programs to support student success, visibility across global programs will be key. More institutions will integrate their often-siloed study abroad and international education departments in 2024. U.S. students are increasingly interested in schools that offer study abroad, and international students are increasingly interested in studying at U.S. institutions – both of which can have a positive impact on enrollment numbers. While the study abroad and international education tracks have unique processes, the professionals who manage the programs have intertwined skill sets and data management needs. Transparent and easy to access data on the “global” view of global engagement among students, faculty and staff will be helpful to institution leadership as they plan for the future. Also since the rise of online learning during the pandemic, there has been a strong and growing demand for quality virtual-based global experiences. We will see further improvements to virtual study abroad options in 2024. This not only increases the accessibility of global exposure for students without the financial support to travel – for both U.S. and international students, but it is also an opportunity for institutions to expand their global reach.
Ron Carson, Chief Marketing Officer, Terra Dotta
In 2024, AI and accessibility will continue to play a significant role in shaping higher education trends. Five AI-based systems and approaches will benefit students with disabilities: (1) AI-powered adaptive learning systems that tailor educational content to individual students’ needs, pace, and learning styles; (2) predictive analysis systems using AI that better identify students at risk of falling behind, allowing for timely intervention and support; (3) AI-driven virtual assistants and chatbots that assist students with administrative tasks, answering queries, and providing guidance on coursework; (4) improved accessibility features using AI that enhance the educational experience of students with disabilities; and (5) automated grading systems powered by AI that can help design assessments that are inclusive and accommodate different learning styles and abilities. However, for these systems and approaches to be truly beneficial to students with disabilities, AI-based decision-making systems must include inputs from people with disabilities and Generative AI-based interactive systems must keep accessibility top of mind while building the user interfaces. The successful integration of AI and accessibility measures will depend on collaboration between educational institutions, technology providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. Additionally, ethical considerations, such as ensuring fairness and transparency in AI algorithms, will be crucial to building trust in these technologies within the education sector heading into the new year.
Dr. Sam Chandrashekar, Global Accessibility Lead, D2L
AI career advising is going to hit the market hard in 2024! Employers will start seeing applicants show up to interviews much better prepared. Resumes will look much more refined. Candidates will step into interview rooms with more confidence because of pre-interview preparation enhanced by AI-facilitated mock sessions and skill-building activities. With growing demand, I also foresee more advising platforms hitting the market. One of the uncertainties is the extent to which inequality in AI accessibility could play a role – will those with the most access to today continue to have the most access to AI tomorrow? There are many in the nonprofit sector who are trying to make sure that access is equitably distributed to level the playing field.
Jared Chung, Founder & Executive Director, CareerVillage
In 2024, AI will begin to touch most aspects of university life – from the student experience and faculty research to physical infrastructure on campus, and even athletics. All of this has the potential to improve students’ access to resources and support, automate tasks so faculty has more time to spend on teaching, and enhance efficiencies and decision making at the administrative level. However, this is dependent on institutions leveraging AI in ways that matter. In the year ahead, universities must develop a comprehensive plan for how AI can help achieve their goals and ensure they have both the right people and technology in place to successfully implement it.
Delia DeCourcy, Worldwide Education Portfolio Manager, Lenovo
Higher ed institutions to revitalize diversity and equity through holistic admissions in 2024. In 2024, higher education underwent a significant transition, offering universities a unique opportunity to innovate and address long-standing challenges arising from the cancellation of diversity initiatives and Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. As institutions navigate these challenges they will focus on a re-evaluation and re-invigoration of the admissions process. This will require that institutions show their commitment to fostering equity by exploring evidence-based holistic strategies that widen the pathway to education, while remaining compliant within the new legal framework. As part of a holistic approach, programs will recognize that traditional academic measures don’t tell the whole story about an applicant, or their future success. These programs will think critically about the added value that the SAT, GPA, or other similar measures have on an applicant. Programs will also start to think about what they should measure, in order to ensure they’re assessing important skills, like critical thinking, collaboration, empathy, professionalism, and more. These developments will empower higher education institutions to better assess life experiences that extend beyond conventional academic measures.
Dr. Kelly Dore, Co-Founder & VP of Science & Innovation, Acuity Insights
Looking ahead, I anticipate that in 2024 the generative AI training wheels will come off and propel adoption of this technology. It is increasingly clear that AI will become a ubiquitous part of life. Therefore, it is in the educators’ best interest to prepare students effectively, ensuring they are well-equipped to coexist with generative AI in the workplace in the future. Educators can take the lead by incorporating opportunities to work with generative AI-powered tools. For instance, traditionally static presentations can be infused with dynamic generative AI elements, fostering a more efficient and engaging experience. This not only aligns with the evolving technological landscape but also prepares students for a future where collaboration with AI will be integral to various professional domains.
Jose Florido, Education Lead & Chief Market Development, U.S., Freepik
In 2024, the focus will be on reimagining education with AI at its core. It’s not about merely repackaging traditional learning methods with AI; it’s about innovatively leveraging AI to transform the educational experience. Virtual learning assistants, or mentors, will, with human overseers, autonomously support personalized development: Imagine personalized learning journeys powered by AI agents that bring relevant topics to your students’ attention, based on your interests.
Graham Glass, CEO & Founder, CYPHER Learning
With high impact spaces becoming a priority, higher ed will put more cameras in each space. We’ll see multi-camera experiences where AI handles switching between camera feeds during a back-and-forth conversation, uses audio to recall specific PTZ camera settings for panel discussions, and zooms into a shot of only a few students while a question is being asked rather than showing a wide shot of the whole audience. All of this will create a richer experience for remote learners and attendees. In a parallel trend to using more cameras, comes the continued need to reliably handle USB transmission, distribution, and switching. From laptops to tablets, phones, and cameras, the ability to share content, add sources to video calls, or charge portable devices will require greater capabilities from your normal audio and video transceivers. Handling the transmission of USB signals to/from host devices and endpoints will become common in classroom designs. Sometimes moving AV signals over the network is more costly than HD BaseT solutions, but there are advantages: accommodating tricky topologies, overcoming distance challenges, lowering costs of transmitting signals between buildings on campus, and offering more flexibility if the teaching methods in the room change. Using cloud-based technology management software will continue to simplify provisioning equipment before it is installed, help push updates or programs configured for standard room designs, and provide usage and ROI metrics which are imperative to obtaining and growing technology budgets.
John Hulen, Director of Channel Marketing, Education, Crestron Electronics
Educational institutions will transition students from school to career. Educational institutions are facing increased pressure on budgets and enrollment. To meet these challenges, educational institutions must undergo a transformative shift, more clearly demonstrating the economic value of a bachelor’s degree and helping students secure full-time employment. This is most important for first-generation and low-income college students, who have the most at stake in this transition. In the upcoming year, colleges and universities will increasingly tailor their programs to meet the workforce by adapting to the dynamic demands of the job market. These institutions will offer flexible learning options, implement experiential learning programs, and emphasize the development of soft skills, especially network building. Flexible learning options, such as online and hybrid programs, will allow students to balance education with other commitments. To create a more dependable college-to-career bridge, institutions will need to form partnerships with employers and leverage the knowledge and connections of their alumni. Indeed, alumni social capital may be higher education’s greatest untapped asset. These programs should be focused on in-demand skills, like data analysis and visualization. Recognizing the importance of communication, critical thinking, and teamwork in the workplace, colleges will prioritize preparing students for the soft skills that are essential to success in the workforce.
Kalani Leifer, CEO, COOP Careers
This year, there was a push for more regulatory oversight of the partnerships between higher education institutions and OPMs resulting in confusion and a turbulent market for learning providers. While the Department of Education has delayed issuing updated guidance about regulations, institutions are likely to continue seeking partnerships with OPMs by exploring more options than ever before by opting for fee-for-service models and hybrid arrangements. In the new year, more OPMs are expected to unbundle their services, allowing institutions to choose and pay only for what services they need and push contract terms including term length and performance metrics. At the same time, in 2024, more students will likely expect institutions to provide online learning modality options, with the majority of students preferring distance learning options. As more institutions offer online options, it will be crucial for institutions and learning providers to create an emphasis on marketing and recruitment activities, and leverage new tools like AI to create innovative strategies to support the student journey. Adopting AI in marketing and recruitment will lead to cost savings within OPM models, allowing more competitive pricing and creating more sustainable partnerships. Enrollment woes are expected to grow, coupled with revenue shortfalls that lead to budget issues resulting in a growing demand for OPM services, simply under different terms and conditions.
Jim Lummus, SVP of Partnership Development, AllCampus
Post-pandemic, students continue to grapple with vulnerability and uncertainty: inflation, economic uncertainty, geopolitical conflict and instability, and climate anxiety contribute to charged campus environments and increasing pressure on student emotional and mental health. The World Health Organization estimates that close to one billion people suffer from a mental health condition. This includes college students: in a recent Wiley survey, around half of undergraduate students cited declining mental and emotional health as challenges they are facing. Our new report shows mental health practitioners are seeing growing caseloads and more cases of depression and anxiety. Colleges will be increasingly called upon to support student and faculty mental health in the year ahead.
Amanda Miller, Group Vice President, Academic Publishing Group, Wiley
In 2024, I firmly believe the growing synergies between real-time engagement (RTE) and artificial intelligence (AI) will profoundly revolutionize education. Drawing from a vast set of curriculum and inputs, including students’ interests, pace and learning style, AI has the potential to offer teachers with meaningful insights into their students and classroom that can be used to shape the learning experience and provide hyper-individualized education. Meanwhile, RTE enables responsive, accessible, and inclusive learning in the classroom by facilitating seamless and scalable interactive communications between students and teachers. Together, these technologies will allow teachers to provide tailored instruction, continuously optimize their teaching strategies, and spend more one-on-one time guiding students based on their unique requirements, leading to enhanced comprehension and academic performance.
Wyatt Oren, Director of Sales for Education, Agora
It’s important for higher education institutions to find the right students and help them continue their educational journey. However, managing the voluminous number of student application documents can be overwhelming for admissions department staff. In 2024, I predict a rise in use of technology to improve efficiency within higher education admissions offices, with a focus on making processing applications faster and more secure. The conversation will focus on best practices to make admissions staff members’ jobs easier.
Misty Reinhardt, Director of Product Management, Scribbles Software
In 2024, we will continue to see immersive experiences pop up on higher education campuses around the globe. In fact, many of the installations are becoming even more sophisticated and demanding. The need for adaptable, higher resolution projection at a cost-effective price is on the rise as the experiential market continues to grow and end users look for the right technology to make installations more realistic; from small, intimate settings to large-scale immersive experiences. Brighter projectors that can deliver vibrant colors using 3 chip technology and 4K resolution are especially important in situations with larger display sizes where pixel density is important, or if the audience is very close to the display. Having the right technology will play a vital role in delivering the content the way the artists intend it to be seen.
Ramzi Shakra, Senior Product Manager for Large Venue Projectors, Epson America
In education as an industry, K-20 must continue to define EDU 2.0. The pandemic and other factors continue to call into question the role education plays in society, and the concern of disconnected and inequitable experiences. Deeper connection across public and private sectors, stronger collaboration between school districts and colleges/universities, and a personalized view of the student’s journey across segments must be the priority heading into 2024.
Joshua Sine, VP, Higher Education Strategy, Qualtrics
In higher education, space will see a new frontier. Colleges/universities will begin to understand what a return to campus means for their footprint regarding the amount of physical space available and underutilized. They will start to find creative and innovative ways to enhance the student experience by tapping into this resource. Additionally, ROI will stay front and center. Students and parents will continue to ask the tough questions about what they are getting from their investment in a 4-year degree. Colleges and universities that listen, understand the assignment, and put forth action in crafting job-ready graduates will find high levels of engagement and satisfaction.
Joshua Sine, VP, Higher Education Strategy, Qualtrics
We will see the rise of generative AI assistants that can help overwhelmed student advisors better manage caseloads and respond to student needs. These assistants will help resource-strapped advisors personalize learning paths for every student and even do things like reduce attrition rates by helping to identify students likely to drop out early based on data like badge-ins, class attendance, and grades–which can paint a clear picture of which students are at risk. Not only will AI be able to help identify high-risk students early, but universities can then use it to proactively engage them before it’s too late, helping to keep more students on the path to graduation.
Balakrishnan Subramanian, VP & GM of Education, Salesforce
In the next year, an “AI Bill of Rights” for schools will take shape and gain traction across the country. We will see higher ed institutions partner with technology leaders to develop a regulatory framework to govern how AI can and should be used by institutions. Ensuring ethical use and protection of student data will be central to the doctrine, as will be requiring strict parameters around oversight and use when it comes to any decision–such as college acceptances.
Balakrishnan Subramanian, VP & GM of Education, Salesforce
I think there are two or three cohorts of high school graduates who graduated during COVID and decided not to continue with their education. Those folks are now in the workforce, but may be under-employed. We’ll see them coming back to continue their education – primarily online. They’ll be looking for lots of flexibility in course offerings, which means organizations will need to develop engaging learning platforms.
Nick Swayne, President, North Idaho College
As the influence of edtech extends beyond online learning, the drivers behind the next growth phase in edtech will include a more receptive market and exciting new developments in technology-enabled capabilities. Following the adoption and usage boom during the pandemic, digital edtech solutions have become more broadly accepted and pervasive, even in traditionally resistant areas such as conventional education environments like classrooms. As more consumers, corporate managers, and regulators have become accustomed to digital products, these solutions will continue to extend their reach into the corporate and teaching environments. For example, the expansion of Caltech’s recent adjustment to its admission requirements is a promising trend in how traditional educational institutions leverage edtech beyond online course delivery. Caltech now allows applicants who do not have access to required STEM courses to take free, online classes provided by Khan Academy and Schoolhouse.world as an alternative, more equitable path for its admissions application process. Students who score 90 percent or higher on a certification test will meet the course requirements for application. This is how edtech is becoming an integral part of various aspects of education, from admission processes to enhancing job readiness and measuring mastery.
Sergey Toporov, Partner, LETA Capital
In 2024, we’ll begin to find a balance and use artificial intelligence to build authentic intelligence. AI will become a powerful tool for writers, especially those learning to write and facing writer’s block. However, the tool will need to be balanced so humans remain in control; we will see students and individuals needing to develop discernment skills.
David Weinstein, CEO, Write the World
In 2024, the landscape of higher education enrollment and admissions is poised to undergo a transformative shift, with the increasing prominence of third-party data as a pivotal means for engaging with possible student recruits. Facing challenges such as declining enrollment, retention concerns, and financial instability, we expect to see enrollment marketers tap into advanced data analytics to identify and attract the right kind of students that will thrive at their institutions. Amidst a competitive environment, where demographic shifts and economic factors impact traditional recruitment strategies, third-party data will emerge as a crucial ally. By leveraging comprehensive data sets, institutions can gain nuanced insights into groups of prospective students’ academic performance, extracurricular activities, and personal demographics. This granular understanding enables targeted and relevant outreach, tailoring admissions efforts to align with student profile types via an omnichannel strategy. As enrollment marketers increasingly rely on third-party data, ethical considerations regarding data privacy and security will become paramount. Institutions must navigate this terrain carefully, ensuring compliance with regulations and maintaining transparent communication with students.
Bryan Whitaker, CEO, Statara
AI is challenging and changing institutions on all sides – from teaching and learning to operations and infrastructure. Today and into 2024, generative AI will inspire instructors and administrators to think and solve problems creatively. Consider assessment, an area where too much emphasis has been placed on detecting AI plagiarism, a task that current technology isn’t up to without serious ethical and accuracy concerns. Instead, AI will power more authentic assessment, shifting from an evaluation based solely on accrued knowledge to one that assesses practical application of skills such as personal perspectives, critical thinking, and self-reflection. Generative AI will also supercharge administrators’ ability to positively impact learners at scale. Take for instance an advisor who now can see student engagement data flowing from the LMS and builds an intervention program for a learner to get them back on track faster. AI will power the ability to automate, monitor, and – most importantly – scale processes like this intervention that are time-intensive and manual today. If anything, we’re not thinking big enough. Yes, AI will push higher education to move faster and adapt more rapidly to change. It will transform administrative processes, easing the burden on staff and freeing them up for tasks that require higher-level thinking. It is one of the most exciting times to be in technology and higher education. The challenge will be to see where the true opportunities lie and identifying the priorities of how to apply AI to meet them.
JD White, Chief Product Officer, Anthology
AI has the potential to transform institutions, as it can help create better, more informed, data-driven decision-making. In 2024, I expect institutions to lean towards AI solutions that are supported by a reliable, secure data infrastructure that enables them to utilize a smaller infrastructure footprint to reduce the burden of storage management and accelerate ransomware and rapid disaster recovery. As AI becomes more mainstream in higher education operations over the next year, we’ll see institutions better understand, invest, and apply AI-specific solutions to their agency needs. While investing in AI and the technology to support it, institutions can improve operations, offering faster innovation and a better student and faculty experience.
Mike Wiseman, Vice President, Public Sector, Pure Storage
With the pace of digital transformation, institutions must streamline and accelerate technologies to deploy integrated cloud, hybrid, and multicloud architectures and upgrade the legacy applications that they rely on. In the coming year, as technologies continue to evolve, I expect that institutions will implement the most advanced IT systems, including container-based applications, as they provide institutions with a complete data storage infrastructure solution capable of delivering premier student services. Container applications give IT development teams the tools to modernize their applications, as they can gain speed, agility, and scale, while offering easy backup and restore and enhanced disaster recovery.
Mike Wiseman, Vice President, Public Sector, Pure Storage
In 2024, I believe we will see higher education institutions increase their focus on student employability and the higher order skills future employers are seeking – critical thinking, problem solving and written communication. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 flags critical thinking as a top skill for tomorrow’s careers. Institutions are already having conversations about the importance of these skills, but 2024 will be the year they start to integrate critical thinking instruction into their curricula. More broadly, higher education institutions will increase their adoption of performance-based learning and performance-based assessment to give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios. They will view assessment as an important aspect of improving students’ academic and career outcomes – while also addressing issues of accessibility, equity, and inclusion.
Bob Yayac, President & CEO, CAE