Written by Tony Nguyen, Emerging Technologies/Communications Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A). Contact Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Media Consortium recently released the Horizon Report, 2016 Higher Education that identifies trends, challenges, and emerging technologies. The report is designed to examine new technologies and determine their potential impact in colleges and universities worldwide. In review of the new report and comparing it to the 2016 Report, the following new points were discovered:
Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education
- Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning – In order to build better pedagogies, empower active learning, target at-risk students, and assess factors of completion and success, institutions will utilize adaptive learning technologies to online platforms that will adjust to individual learners’ needs.
- Augmented and Virtual Reality – Virtual reality constructs provide contextual learning experiences that can foster exploration of real world data in virtual surroundings. Students will be able to construct broader understandings based on interactions with virtual objects.
- Affective Computing – Affective computing is a concept in which computers attain humanlike understanding through activities and understanding. This concept can influence and support online learning in which a computerized tutor could adjust and react to students to help motivate and boost confidence.
- Robotics – New outreach programs are promoting robotics and programming as multi-disciplinary STEM skills to make students better problem solvers. New students show that interaction with robots can help learners of varying needs develop and improve their communication skills.
While the technologies listed aren’t necessarily new, innovative approaches have either made them new again or have brought them into the realm of higher education. There are a number of reasons these technologies could support or impede adoption within colleges and universities. The following new points were identified to drive planning and decision-making or impede adoption of new technologies if left unresolved.
Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education
- Rethinking How Institutions Work – In order to make 21st century students work savvy upon graduation, institutions will consider policy initiatives, programs, and changes in curriculum in support of hybrid learning and competency-based education centered on online education.
- Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches – Students need to be able to make clear connections between the curriculum and the real world. Project-based learning, challenge based learning, inquiry based learning, and similar methods are fostering more active learning experiences. Instructors will need to leverage technology to relate material taught to real life applications.
Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Higher Education
- Balancing Our Connected and Unconnected Lives – As education aligns with technological trends, educators will have a responsibility to promote a balance of technological tools so students do not get lost with the abundance of digital tools and become aware of their digital footprint, and its implications.
- Keeping Education Relevant – Today, a college degree does not equate gainful employment. Addressing this challenge will require institutions to explore new opportunities to earn a college degree that will prepare students with industry-specific skills and maintain the ethical training and credibility of traditional academia.
This review highlighted topics not covered in the 2015 report. There are a number of additional trends and challenges to consider should your organization consider adopting a new technology within your college or university. I encourage you to download the Horizon Report, 2016 Higher Education Edition and explore these topics and more in greater detail.