2014 Horizon Report Looks at Trends and Challenges in Higher Ed

As we move farther into 2014, are you wondering what will be the big ed tech trends for the year? The authors of the 2014 Horizon Report provide some answers.

Although the the K-12 version of the New Media Consortium’s annual report is not due out till June, a look at the newly released (January 28, 2014) higher education edition gives us a strong sneak peek. The Horizon report, Higher Education Edition, is a collaborative effort by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and Educause, designed to highlight emerging technologies that impact teaching, learning and creative inquiry in higher education.

International leaders across many sectors come together with technologists, business leaders and others in the creation of the annual report. With its compelling timeline, delineation of trends and challenges and related examples, it is a valuable resource for educational leaders. Here’s a summary of the higher education findings:

Key Trends:

One to Two Years

  • Integration of Online, Hybrid and Collaborative Learning - Internet access to a wide range of materials makes new types of collaborative and online learning possible. This learning is available at any hour and is benefited by an ever growing set of digital skills students are acquiring.
  • Growing Ubiquity of Social Media - Social media has become an established means of communication across many sectors. Education is seeing this trend, also, with the ever-growing capability for sharing information, discussing ideas and collaboration.

Three to Five Years:

  • Shift of Students as Consumers to Students as Creators - As people's technology habits become more mobile and technology easier to access, people are creating more and more content as time goes by. Self published books, videos and more are evidence of this creator society. This creativity is expected to continue and it’s impact on student creativity and learning is expected.
  • Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment - More emphasis will be placed on the use of data to enhance individual learning. The capabilities and uses for data is expected to grow in both capability and application thereby benefiting student outcome.

Five Years and Beyond:

  • Agile Approaches to Change - Organizational structures such as schools may benefit from the startup models currently in evidence in business. As leaders have the option to view and incorporate models based on this, schools may find additional avenues for new learning and evaluation.
  • Evolution of Online Learning - Voice and video tools are now asynchronous and many teachers are expected to expand their use of these models and take the opportunity to interact with students in this way. Growing uses of audio and visual tools will help the learning experience be more akin to face to face interaction.

Significant Challenges:

Six significant challenges have been singled out. These challenges are ones that schools and organizations need to carefully consider as they look to incorporate key trends into learning and inquiry. Challenges are categorized by the study as being solvable, difficult or wicked. Solvable challenges are those that ‘we understand and know how to solve’. Difficult challenges are those that ‘we understand but for which solutions are elusive’. Wicked challenges are those that are ‘complex to even define, let alone address’.

  • Low Digital Fluency of Faculty - Expanding teacher digital fluency translates to better learning experiences for students. Fluency for teachers must incorporate not only tools but about shifts in how learning occurs in the digital age.
  • Relative Lack of Rewards for Teaching - Efforts to implement effective pedagogies may be lacking due to lesser position for teachers in universities. Research can be held in higher esteem than teaching and teaching positions may be given more frequently to adjunct professors in the past.
  • Competition from New Models of Education - New models of education exist such as Moocs and other free and open platforms. Schools need to take these models into account and evaluate best ways to engage students and create effective models of learning, assessment and collaboration.
  • Scaling Teaching Innovations - Taking new ideas and innovations and applying them widely in organizations and schools can be challenging. There is a need to find ways to take successful ideas and have them adapted broadly taking in account adversity to change and existing organizational structures such as promotion.
  • Keeping Education Relevant - With online learning and free content being widely available schools must work to keep education relevant from a student’s perspective or risk that other models may replace some of their offerings
  • Expanding Access - expanding reach to all students of all backgrounds and capabilities is a challenge. Diverse opportunities can lead to equity issues.

Important Developments in Educational Technology:

One Year or Less

  • Flipped Classroom - This model allows for more collaborative and one on one in class time. Students benefit from customized time to explore content on their own at home and to problem solve with teachers and students when in class.
  • Learning Analytics - ‘Big Data’ increasingly will be used to track student performance and enhance learning experience.

Two to Three Years

  • 3D Printing - Capabilities are expanding on an ongoing basis. This is a creative tool for students and schools.
  • Games and Gamification - Effective game design enhances productivity and creativity in learners. Gaming is seen as not merely recreational but rather a motivational and instructional tool for learners of all ages.

Four to Five Years

  • Quantified Self - Data relevant to daily activities can more easily be tracked due to devices such as smart watches and other newly developed wearable technology. As this capability expands, data is becoming more entwined with our lives.
  • Virtual Assistants - Technology is growing in its use of smart devices, voice recognition and gesture technology. As technology expands students may more easily get learning assistance via virtual and online supports.

To Learn More:

* View the Higher Ed Report Here: http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed

* Watch (he Help) the K-12 Report Unfold: The K-12 edition of the report typically mirrors the higher ed version in many ways, although with some significant differences. It’s possible to get a preview of the K-12 report, due out in June 2014, by following the work of the Advisory Board at their wiki at http://k12.wiki.nmc.org/home. Although only advisory board members can add content to the wiki, any visitor can enter comments using the discussion tab or share input, via Twitter, using the hashtag #NMChz

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