How will education technology reshape higher education in the new year? Campus Technology asked four university CIOs to weigh in on the top issues in ed tech.
From artificial intelligence to real-time analytics, here are the trends worth paying attention to.
Trend 1: Colleges invest in real-time analytics
Real-time analytics give colleges an opportunity to intervene with at-risk students immediately, says Theresa Rowe, the CIO at Oakland University. Colleges are accustomed to using analytics to see what has happened over time, "but that approach does not offer much for a student in the course right now," says Rowe. "Changing our thinking to real-time learning analytics... is essential to making a difference for a currently enrolled student."
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Trend 2: Campuses innovate in (and out of) incubators
California State University, Fresno organizes hackathons and an incubation program to encourage and support students, faculty, and staff to pursue innovative tech ideas, says CIO Orlando Leon. The university is pursuing several tech projects around machine learning, augmented reality, and cloud computing, he adds.
But innovation happens outside of formal incubators, too, says Kathleen Lueckeman, the CIO at Maryville University. For many campus leaders, innovation is embedded in everyday projects and new types of academic and employer partnerships, she says.
Trend 3: STEM stretches budgets
Funding issues and societal attitudes about science can make it difficult to recruit and retain students and faculty with scientific talent, says Rowe. Institutions also face financial obstacles to creating and maintaining labs or tools needed for effective academic programs, she adds.
Trend 4: Certificates help employers understand coursework
Certificates and credentials can help students connect their degree coursework with work skills, says Andy Jett, the CIO at Baker University. Students who graduate with a degree and documented professional competencies may have an edge in the job market, he adds.
Blockchain may make it easier for students to collect credits from different universities and for universities to verify and share that data with each other, says Lueckeman. She points to Arizona State University's early work with blockchain as an initiative to watch this year.
Trend 5: AI and machine learning bring automation to higher ed
AI will give campuses the opportunity to focus less on repetitive tasks in favor of more important work, says Lueckeman. Beyond student success, AI can help colleges automate manual administrative tasks, answer common questions with bots, and help prioritize prospective donors, she adds.
For these technologies to really reshape higher ed, campus leaders will need to fundamentally rethink every step of the educational process, from recruiting to graduation, says Rowe. "It really is about thinking differently, and releasing the need to do all the thinking by individual or committee."
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Trend 6: Colleges commit to accessibility
Accessibility touches on every service and tool used by students and employees, says Leon. Over the past decade, Fresno State and the California State University System have worked to make technology procurements and instructional materials more accessible, he explains.
Trend 7: Colleges reimagine digital course material
Baker fully integrated the delivery of course materials, online tutoring, career services, online labs, at one price point, says Jett. "The effort was designed to make sure every student had their course materials, as well as allow us to more affordably provide tutoring and career services to our online student population."
But while the open educational resources movement is picking up steam, campus leaders need to understand the "full cost to the university and whether it has been more of a cost shifting rather than a true cost savings," says Leon.
Trend 8: Colleges create more hybrid online and in-person classes
Some students want more interaction than what most online courses provide, says Jett. To find a middle ground, Baker provided every student and faculty member a videoconference account.
Now, faculty can extend the reach of their in-person classes by using a video conference to synchronously pull in students who may be out with a sick child or traveling for work, explains Jett. And online instructors can hold classes at a specific date and time for remote students, he adds (Kelly, Campus Technology, 1/24).
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