Last week the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released their 12th annual Horizon Report on technology integration in higher education. Each year these groups coordinate the work of a diverse panel of more than 50 experts to identify key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in educational technology. The final report includes predictions for future adoption of various tools and approaches in the short term, as well as over the next five years and beyond.
This year’s Horizon Report identifies two key trends influencing tech adoption over the next two years on a global scale.
Evolution of Online Learning
The nature of technology in general is that it is constantly changing. As new capabilities are realized and access becomes more ubiquitous, the use of technology allows us to work and live more effectively and efficiently. Online education is just one context in which ever-changing technology is making a difference in both teaching and learning.
Online education is steadily gaining a reputation for not only offering convenience and flexibility but also high-quality academic experience for learners. The work of educators and researchers to develop new strategies and establish leading practices has led to more research and innovation in the following areas:
Blended Learning: Students enrolled in blended or hybrid courses can expect a mix of requirements to meet and interact via online resources and face-to-face. As the integration of technology into educational settings evolves, traditional courses are incorporating more blended components with which students can prepare for class, review course materials and textbooks, and continue in-person discussions online.
Communication Options: A combination of asynchronous and synchronous (i.e., real-time) tools allows students to connect with each other and the course materials, as well as with their instructors in a variety of ways. The selection of specific media resources to meet specific needs, such as class discussions, social community building, and demonstrations can mean the adoption of multiple tools and techniques.
Rethinking Learning Spaces
The Horizon Report recognizes that “a student-centered approach to education has taken root,” resulting in the need for redesign of traditional learning spaces, both physical and virtual in nature. No longer confined to a physical location, or even a single course website, learners can benefit from new tools and strategies used to organize and structure the environments in which they connect and learn.
Personalized Learning: Students bring a variety of learning needs to the learning space, which can be met through environments that not only allow for some degree of choice (i.e., activity options based on learning preferences), but also present materials and assessments based on each learner’s skill level and previous work.
Active Learning: While traditional learning spaces provided more passive learning activities, such as reading a textbook or listening to a lecture, active strategies allow students to interact with course content and each other. Online environments increasingly provide opportunities for active learning through virtual laboratory exercises, collaborative projects, and simulations, and game-based activities.
Are you involved in technology conversations, planning, and decisions at your institution? Find out more about these and other trends presented in the 2015 Horizon Report for Higher Education and how Acrobatiq’s adaptive courseware offers institutions an innovative approach to designing effective online learning environments.