Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Key Trends & Technologies Impacting Higher Ed: The 2016 Horizon Report

Micka, Tracy.
INFO266, Fall 2016

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2016-higher-education-edition/

The highly respected Horizon Report (Higher Education edition) for 2016 has been released, highlighting the trends, challenges, and technology that will impact higher education over the next five years. The key trends accelerating technology adoption can be summarized as:

  1. Advancing cultures of innovation:  Using technology as a catalyst, universities aim to foster a Silicon Valley startup / entrepreneurial culture in order to drive innovation that will have practical / commercial outcomes for the local community and even the global workplace.
  2. Rethinking how institutions work: Research shows a gap between the needs of the 21st century economy and how students are currently being prepared for the workplace. Cross-disciplinary approaches and new competency-based credentialing programs are made possible by technology and work to expand educational opportunities while also enhancing the employability of graduates.
  3. Redesigning Learning Spaces: Physical spaces on campus must accommodate the new pedagogies of student-centered, active learning which is project-based and hands-on, calling for multiple devices, mobility, collaboration, lots of bandwidth, and remote access. These new spaces mimic real-world work environments, not lecture halls.
  4. Shift to deeper learning approaches: Critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and self-directed learning are the new buzzwords articulating the cornerstones of modern education. All of this works to help students make connections between their education and the real world. Technology- namely the internet, but also web 2.0 tools, virtual reality, robotics and even 3D printers- enables deeper learning by giving students unprecedented access to information, otherwise remote experts/practitioners, and to each other to collaborate, create, and share to an authentic audience.
  5. Growing focus on measured learning: Data mining software, and the prevalence of online programs and learning management systems provide the basis for massive data gathering that feeds a growing industry in analytics and changes in student assessment. With the trend toward better matching student skills with workplace needs, assessment is morphing from measuring rote learning to tracking competency-based learning goals. Protecting student privacy in the midst of this data mining is a key factor for policy leaders.
  6. Increasing use of blended learning designs: Online learning is gaining traction in colleges and universities as technology and multimedia make high quality, low-cost, and even free learning objects/content available. By integrating face-to-face classes with online offerings, universities can offer greater affordability, accessibility, and more personalization.  

The following six technologies have been selected as ones likely to have real impact in higher education over the short, medium, and long term:

  1. BYOD (Short Term; 1 yr or less)
  2. Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning (Short Term; 1 yr or less)
  3. Augmented and Virtual Reality (Medium Term; 2-3 yrs)
  4. Makerspaces (Medium Term; 2-3 yrs)
  5. Affective Computing (Long Term; 4-5 yrs)
  6. Robotics (Long Term; 4-5 yrs)

My comments:
Understandably, I see a lot of overlap between the K-12 and the higher ed reports. Namely, the trends of attention to deeper learning and redesigning learning spaces, since everyone is rethinking how these institutions (schools and universities) work. As far as technology developments, both institutions will be impacted by makerspaces, robotics & virtual reality, and online learning which provides useful analytics to boost learning outcomes, but which needs to be balanced by privacy concerns. All in all, education is changing dramatically, fueled by disruptive technologies and the new pedagogies that spring from them.

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