Girls Studying

As the use of technology in higher education continues to grow and transform, there are certain tools and concepts driving this change. NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition, conducted by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, points out six key trends that will accelerate change and the adoption of technology in higher education.

1.Social Media
Social media continues to gain users, with the top 25 social media platforms worldwide sharing 6.3 billion accounts. According a PEW Research Center Study, 67% of all adults and 86% of adults ages 18-26 use social media, so it comes as no surprise that students and educators alike continue to embrace all forms of social media. These media enable institutions to communicate with students in a less formal way, allowing for dialogue between prospective students as well as educators and administrators. Faculty members have begun to use these tools more frequently, with a survey from the Babson Research Group revealing that 70.3% of faculty use social media in their personal lives, and 55% use them professionally. Educators are using social media in the classroom in the form of blogs and videos, to connect with students, and to communicate with one another to learn and share ideas.

2.Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning
The classic college lecture as we know it is undergoing changes as technology begins to play a larger role. An increasing number of universities have begun to include online learning, blended and hybrid learning, and collaborative models as part of their pedagogical standards. As online content is incorporated, classrooms become more dynamic flexible, and accessible, and allow for more freedom in interactions between students when working on assessments and projects.

3.Data-driven Learning and Assessment
Students and educators are exponentially generating more and more data that can be used to modify learning strategies and processes. Although higher education has yet to fully embrace learning analytics, recent developments showthat data, especially the wealth available from online learning, could improve learning outcomes. Many universities are already using Dashboards, a feature on many Learning Management Systems, that provide students and instructors an overview of their course and learning data.

4.Students as Creators
There has been a change on many campuses where students are now creating content in many more of their courses, across a wide range of disciplines. Creativity and hands-on learning have become an integral part of many curriculums. Makerspaces, and other dedicated communal areas where students are supplied with crafting tools and digital equipment such as microcontrollers and 3D printers, have popped up  all across university campuses including in libraries. By giving students access to this expensive equipment, students can collaborate and be creative, with all the necessary tools and technology at hand.

5.Bold Approaches to Change
Many institutions are trying new, progressive approaches to teaching and learning, which mimic technology-startups. There is a growing emphasis on programs that grow students’ interests in solving social and global problems, inventing products, and contributing content. Some colleges already offer mentorship programs and work with local business professionals to ensure students receive insight into the workforce. Policies that support innovative faculty and student work and nurture entrepreneurship are paramount to ensuring students have support to research and develop new products and ideas.

6.Online Learning
Online learning continues to evolve, with many schools allowing these courses to supplement or replace traditional, on-campus courses. With video and voice tools, online courses have become much more interactive, and students participate more with their instructors and classmates. Online courses have the ability to cater to different types of learning and kinds of students. With enrollment in online courses increasing, this is certainly an area of higher education that is ripe for innovation.