All eyes were on Higher Ed in 2012. MOOCs. Digital textbooks. Mobile applications. Flipped classrooms.
If you’re in the academy, frustration and skepticism sometimes surround the discussion of change within higher education.
But, regardless of your alignment, the incompatibility of the existing infrastructure with the incoming crop of students is blaring.
83% say that higher education must innovate in order for the United States to maintain its global leadership.
75% of adults said college is too expensive for most to afford. 57% said the US higher ed system fails to provide students with good value for their money.
The general public is beginning to doubt higher ed’s ability provide students with the skills needed to thrive in today’s environment. In areas where we have historically led the world, we are starting to lag behind.
In 2013, economic realities will drive innovation forward, and college will begin laying the infrastructure necessary for innovation and success. Here are a few changes to look out for in the new year – and beyond.
Tech watch list for 2013
Personal wireless smart devices (tablets) – If we had created a Tech Watch List for 2012, the tablet would have made the top. The traditional textbook is a low hanging fruit that is already getting chopped by many institutions. Paying $1000 a year for textbooks is ludicrous, especially when you can save up to 80% with an e-reader. In 2013, tablets will become a tool for increased engagement, collaboration and social networking within the classroom.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile – The incoming college student has never experienced an age without constant connectivity. They are arriving on campus with at least three internet-ready mobile devices. They are expecting to access course syllabi, check grades, purchase text books (or e-books), or access library resources on the tools they know and love. Look for mobile apps and responsive web design to become commonplace for top colleges and universities.
Cloud Computing – 2012 was the year for implementing cloud-based solutions for internal IT infrastructures – e-mail, calendaring, collaboration, file storage and more. Cloud solutions have addressed nearly all important aspects of communication. However, the heart of higher education remains unchanged. 2013 will be a year for cloud-based teaching and learning that will ease the pain of knowledge transfer in the traditional lecture, and this means more time and energy for what’s important – face-to-face guidance and collaborative communication.
Training Centers and Selective Services – With enrollment generally on a downturn, the availability of other credit and noncredit selective education will be on the rise, especially as both industry and academics embrace the relevance of online learning.
The Flipped Classroom – The design of the classroom is ripe for change. Online platforms enable professors to pre-record content for students to access beyond the classroom. This allows for time spent in lectures to be used as a supplement to the core learning experience. Instructors can offer deeper content, discussion, or small group activities which make the whole process more tailored to the needs of the student.
Distance Learning – While the skeptics believe distance learning makes for a shallow, passive learning experience, online education allows for students receive custom learning from faculty at elite institutions beyond the four walls of a classroom. Additionally, MOOCs provide a solution that addresses the 75% who believe college education is too expensive for most and the 57% who claim college fails at providing a good return on investment.
Hybrid Classrooms – MOOCs are a divisive issue. Many see distance learning as ineffective, and believe that students need face-to-face interaction with peers and professors. Most school won’t make such a drastic change in 2013, but hybrid classrooms will help settle the score between the innovators and the skeptics by combining distance learning with less frequent campus visits. Faculty will still have the ability to interact with and directly assess their students, while providing core content online. Hybrid classrooms bring new teaching technology down to smaller, more intimate groups of people.
84% of Americans aged 18 to 30 believe a hybrid learning approach benefits students more than online courses alone.
Regardless of what technology has staying, transformative power and what technology is a new shiny object that will fade by 2014, the environment is ripe for innovation. Mobile tech is laying the foundation for a new type of learning – more like an in-depth, highly personalized experience – where traditional lecture content meets one-on-one discussions between faculty and peers and practical learning from top industry experts.
Education is become a more individual, mobile, and highly-customized process. While institutional barriers will hold most institutions from immediate change, 2013 will be a year for reputation building for MOOCs and other mobile solutions that aim to tackle some of the problems existing with higher education.
With so much brought to the table in 2012, imagine where we’ll be in five years. Give us your predictions in the comment section below!
Author: Micah Whitehead is the Social Architect and Co-Creative at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.
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