These 3 trends are shaping the future of ed tech – Higher Ed Dive

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DENVER — College leaders are ready to try something new, and they’re looking to technology to do it. That much was clear at Educause’s annual conference, held in Denver in the last week of October.    

Many college officials have felt like they’ve been treading water for the past couple of years as they’ve battled a health crisis, encountered enrollment challenges and pushed back against doubts about higher education’s value. But they’re using new tools and modalities to improve student experiences plus how their institutions operate.  

“Things are different these days — they’re various from the way they were before the pandemic, ” said Susan Grajek, vice president for partnerships, communities and research in Educause, during a speech at the conference. “We’re seeing that institutional and technologies leaders are ready for a new approach. ”

Here are three major ed tech trends colleges can expect.  

Hybrid learning models are still shaking out

The outbreak forced hundreds of schools to further adopt virtual learning practices, including universities that already had large online footprints. At Arizona State University, for instance, officials had to convert around 900 classrooms with regard to virtual learning in a matter of weeks when the health crisis started.  

Students are now expecting colleges to offer both online plus in-person options, according to several speakers and panelists.  

“Our students are demanding different ways in order to learn, ” said Jess Evans, who will soon start as chief information officer at Vanderbilt University. “It is now commonplace to be like, ‘Wait, why do I have to physically walk in when I know we’re having a lecture, and We can attend the lecture remotely? ’”

But not all higher education experts believe that hybrid classrooms are usually the best model.  

John Baker, CEO of D2L, a learning management system company, says that college officials are burning out from implementing hyflex — a hybrid education model that allows students to attend classes either virtually or within person.  

Instead, Baker envisions colleges offering in-person options plus asynchronous online classes separately.  

“It’s going to be this pivot in order to investing now to build high-quality online programs to be able to support each on campus and college students that are wanting to perform pure online experience, ” Baker said.

Technology could be one tool to address equity issues

Equity gaps are pervasive in advanced schooling. For instance, only 46% associated with Black learners who entered a public four-year university in 2011 completed the credential within six years, compared to 64. 7% of students overall, based on a 2019 report from the American Council on Education. Hispanic students also had a lower-than-average six-year completion rate, from 55. 7%.

The pandemic further entrenched some of those divides.  

These types of types associated with gaps can have serious economic consequences, said Arne Duncan, who served while education secretary during the particular Obama administration, throughout a panel.  

“We all find out that if you drop out of high school, there’s basically no chance to get the good job, ” Duncan said. “If you possess a high school diploma with nothing else, it’s almost impossible. ” 

Indeed, a recent statement from Georgetown University researchers found that will young adults are facing lengthier and more complicated pathways to good quality jobs — and that someone’s race can mean they face higher hurdles than others while on those pathways.  

“Too often , education actually exacerbates the divide between the haves and the have-nots, ” Duncan stated. “When that happens, we start to move from a class system to a caste program. ”

Technology can help tackle some of the splits. Duncan pointed to internet access as one way in order to provide opportunity. He furthermore said that on the internet education could help meet nontraditional students, typically thought of as those who are 25 and older, where they are usually.  

Colleges are prioritizing microcredentials

The Education Design Lab, the nonprofit aiming to streamline the particular school-to-work pipeline, has been championing microcredentials for years. The particular organization has developed several microcredentials to signal to employers that students have mastered certain soft skills, including critical thinking, oral communication and creative problem-solving.  

Don Fraser Jr., the Education Design Lab’s chief program officer, argued that higher education often needs to be spurred to quickly transform, such as through a pandemic, tragedy or public embarrassment.  

“Higher ed can’t keep doing what they’re doing plus expecting the world associated with work in order to be OK with it, ” Fraser mentioned.  

He pointed to the trend of many employers dropping bachelor’s degree requirements regarding jobs, arguing that they are looking intended for clearer signals of applicants’ skills.    

“They’re starting to look at other forms of credentialing, ” Fraser said. “This puts institutions in a good position to be able to deliver on that will. ”

Other ed technology companies have got recently already been promoting microcredentials , which includes Coursera, an online course platform, and 2U, a company that helps colleges run and manage online applications.  

Fraser argued that institutions may have other incentives to offer microcredentials. Colleges facing enrollment challenges may see them as a way to strengthen their own bottom lines. And microcredentials could help make the work market more equitable for students who don’t go to top-ranked schools.  

“With this trend where employers are maybe less interested in where a person went — but whether or not you have the particular skills or not — then there’s an opportunity for people who aren’t going to those types of organizations to become able in order to demonstrate their particular capability in a different way, ” Fraser said.