Despite Higher Ed’s reputation for being slow to adapt, it is undeniable how disruptive certain technologies have been in recent years. The Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, and advancements in online learning have changed the way universities reach prospective students, engage with their current student body, and provide them the resources they need.

As with any disruption, there are certain “growing pains” that forward-thinking universities must endure to stay on the leading edge of Higher Ed technology. It’s up to IT leaders within these institutions to explore the pros and cons of integrating new technologies, so that they may guide decision-making processes before external elements force their hands.

Here are some of the most disruptive technologies that are either impacting higher education now or will become more relevant in the near future.

off-campus students

1. Online Learning

Online learning technology has done a significant job of changing how higher education institutions operate, educate, and innovate over the past few years. While MOOCs may not have been all they were cracked up to be, other innovations in online learning have helped make Higher Ed more accessible, opened up new opportunities for students, and changed how many view the value of an online education.

Now that online learning is becoming ubiquitous in Higher Ed, colleges and universities are able to reach students that they were previously unable to. Non-traditional students, such as parents and those fully employed, had often been inaccessible due to scheduling issues, but now have access to a higher education thanks to advances in online learning.

Despite online learning’s successes, many still believe that it lacks the interaction of its in-person counterpart. However, innovations in pedagogical strategy and technology are helping make it much more engaging. For example, video communication technology now allows professors to teach from the comfort of their homes while still being able to speak directly to their students. Those students are also able to work more closely together, as they would in a traditional classroom.

Additionally, professors are able to have experts from their field join the discussion online to speak with students directly. Advancements in online learning technology are helping make higher education more impactful and accessible to more people than ever before.

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Competency-based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) recognizes that all students enter a program with different skills and proficiencies and that each moves at a different rate. We now possess the technology to better measure these differences and design adaptive learning programs accordingly. These programs aim to increase student engagement, as time is spent expanding on what the students already know rather than having them relearn familiar material.

With advancements in CBE, learning can be more self-paced and individual-focused, which makes it a more efficient and effective. If a student needs more time focusing in a certain area, CBE technologies allow this to be clearly measured. Technology has enabled pedagogy to meet the needs of students that don’t fit match the strict criteria of a “traditional” student. Expect this technology to continue to make waves in how people view formal education.

(Next page: 3 more of higher ed’s top disruptive technologies)


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