10 Important Technology Trends In Higher Education

Technology and all its innovations has long been a hallmark of academic research. Today technological innovations are actually changing the very manner in which universities teach and even the way in which their students learn. New technology trends in the 21st century are creating exciting opportunities for institutions of higher learning as their impact continues to grow. These trends are also creating many challenges as, for all its benefits, new technology can be a disruptive innovation. Colleges and universities are responding to the challenge by incorporating technology into their education programs in many ways.

 Today in higher education institutions around the world there are ten important technology trends that are altering instructional paradigms and challenging tradition lecture hall class formats. These are the use of Internet connectivity, the integration of the
use of mobile devices in the classroom, the use of video games, the increased appeal of online learning programs, the availability of various apps, social media, digital textbooks, instructor-developed videos for use in the classroom, the advent of MOOCs, and the development of Flipped Classrooms.

The Use of Internet Connectivity
 The popularity of online courses and programs continues to grow. Students are increasing demanding more online access and universities and colleges are working to meet the demands. In fact, the 9.7 percent growth rate for online enrollment far surpasses
the 1.5 percent growth of the overall student population entering higher education. Some of the challenges yet to be met include the perceived lack of community some online courses may cause, time management issues, and difficulty understanding objectives without extra assistance.

Mobile Device Integration
 Smart phones, tablets, and e-book readers are increasing available to college students and connect them instantly to their peers and the world around them. The applications that can be run on these devices not only allow the users to look up information but
to also produce content. Not only do they transform how students learn, but they also influence students’ learning preferences in new ways. A study conducted at the University of Central Florida indicates that students use tablets and smart phones the most of any devices for academic purposes. This encouraged the university to implement more student-centered services and support to assist them in understanding how to use these devices effectively for coursework purposes.

Use of Video Games
 Welcome to the world of serious gaming, the next big thing in learning and development, also known as immersive learning. It is built on the idea that the formats, approaches and techniques of the gaming media the Generation Y (ages 16-25) students
grew up with could be the most effective in terms of impact when delivering educational ontent for learning new concepts.

Increased Appeal for Online Learning
 Many students consider online college courses as an affordable and convenient solution for obtaining their degree. Many of these are non-traditional adult learners such as those who are working full-time and obtaining their degree in the evening or single
parents planning classes around their family responsibilities. A May 2013 study indicated that 53 percent of students polled believed that this is a reputable form of education and that 43 percent thought online classrooms can match or even exceed the quality of a traditional college program.

Video Use for Class work
 Instructors develop their own videos of new material and/or key concepts. These usually last between five to ten minutes and are viewed at home or outside of class. Then in class the instructor follows up with interactive activities that apply the learning or illustrate the concepts. Individual help and extra instruction is provided when needed and all questions are answered.

 The 2013 Horizon Report® by New Media Consortium predicted that the time-to-adoption of mobile applications and tablet computing innovations will be one year or less in higher education. That is a quick turn-around time. Many colleges and universities now create their own mobile-optimized website versions with stand-alone mobile applications that students can download.

Social Media
 Students believe that education will become more virtual in the future, effecting how they engage with other students in the classroom. They believe this change will come about because of the rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

 MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. These online courses are aimed at unlimited participation through open access via a website. For millions of people globally, the higher education choice is not between attending a traditional brick and
mortar university or taking online courses. It is between online education or none at all. MOOCs open access to a higher education for people who otherwise would not be able to get one. In North America, the providers are Udacity, Coursera and edX. There are
MOOCs throughout the world. By March 2013, 2.8 million learners had registered for courses through Coursera. By October 2013, registrations had topped 5 million. MOOCs are bringing college to the students.

Digital Textbooks
 Textbooks are extremely expensive, but some students still prefer them to digital textbooks because you can sell them back to recover some of your investment and you can highlight and underline text and write notes in the margins. Textbook companies do
not like students selling their used textbooks because they receive no royalties on such sales. The senior vice president of new ventures at McGraw-Hill Education makes it very clear. “We’d prefer that all of it to go digital. There’s no secondary market in e-books.” When they sell e-books, the royalties would be all theirs.

 This is a complicated issue but e-books are being developed and soon will be here to stay. Follet, a major textbook company which runs 930 university bookstores recently launched Follet CafeScribe. This is their digital textbook platform that is cloud-based. A group of competing publishers (McGraw-Hill, Cengage, Wiley, MacMillan, Pearson) joined together in 2007 to found CourseSmart. Through CourseSmart they distribute their digital learning materials and e-textbooks. Most e-textbooks on the market right now are available only in PDF format, which is eye-straining and hard to read. All agree that the quality of digital textbooks needs to improve for them to be universally accepted, but as the tablet computer is the main catalyst for this change, it is inevitable.

Flipped Classrooms
 Incorporating the use of videos for instructional assistance, the flipped classroom is about a major paradigm shift in the delivery of instruction. Rather than the traditional model of lecture and content delivery in the classroom and homework and project
development at home, this instructional model flips the sequence of these instructional components. The students watch a video at home at their own pace, recording any questions they have about material or concepts they do not understand or need clarified.

The instructor used class time for concept engagement through activity learning and projects. Learning through activity and the use of educational technology are the two key components that influence the students’ learning environment.

Technological innovations have created important trends in higher education that are already having a significant impact on not only the programs that colleges and universities offer their students, but also the way these programs are structured and operated. The immediate future should bring many more.

Ryan Ayers is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education and technology. In this article, he talks about several trends in relation to modern day higher education. He aims to encourage higher education with an masters in coaching.

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