Recently the New Media Consortium published its annual higher education report. Much of the report focused on emerging trends in technology, their uses in both online and classroom settings, and the positive impact that is being derived from this higher science.
Promoting the momentum in adopting a variety of technological platforms is seen as a group effort. Social media is finding a place in higher education as a way for professors and administrators to interact with students outside the traditional classroom. For example, Vanderbilt University has a dedicated YouTube channel allowing viewers to see the inter-workings of certain areas of the campus, while at Texas State University, Facebook and Twitter have been incorporated as learning platforms.
Through social media, students and educators are generating large amounts of untapped data which has the potential to reveal algorithms that ultimately can assist in individualizing the learning experience. Universities hypothetically have the ability to use this information to increase the success and graduation rate for at-risk students.
While online learning has been seen as a realistic alternative to a traditional classroom setting for sometime now, there are still strides to be made in improving and integrating specific asynchronous and synchronous tools. Studies have shown that it is vital for professors and students to be able to interact while online through eye contact, body language and additional human gestures to build a strong unspoken connection.
It’s important for colleges and universities to stay abreast of current trends in higher education to ensure graduates emerge prepared to fill positions in the modern workplace. In the global marketplace, that means being in touch with trends both in America and abroad.
Focus on the community. Corporations are beginning to place more attention on how business models impact the earth as well as the community at large. As such, many corporations, non-profits and other organizations have coined the term corporate social responsibility (CSR). We expect to see institutions of higher education paying attention to their CSR as well.
A de-emphasis of ranking. Many academics have grown weary and distrustful of the myriad of “ranking” that takes place across the university spectrum. Rushed research and hyper-pressure to publish is detrimental to the academic process, resulting in shoddy and potentially corrupt work.
Fine tuning technology in the classroom. With MOOCs at one end of the spectrum and PowerPoint presentations at the other, higher education will continue to fine-tune the implementation of technology to enhance learning. 2012 saw a major emphasis placed on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), but high-dropout rates indicate that higher learning is most successful when learning incorporates a blend of technology, online/distance learning opportunities and engaged classroom learning, depending on the subject matter.