I had a quick look at The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Higher Education Edition, the 11th edition in the annual higher education series of NMC Horizon Reports. It’s a very timely and informative report. It

identified 18 topics very likely to impact technology planning and decision making: six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology. (p.3)

The 6 key trends:

  • Growing Ubiquity of Social Media (Fast Trend: 2-3 years). Yes, human beings are social animals. It’s difficult to avoid social media and its impact in Higher Education settings. We just have to accept it as a carrier for connection and communication.
  • Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning (Fast Trend: 2-3 years).
  • Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment (Mid-Range Trend: 3-5 years).
  • Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators (Mid-Range Trend: 3-5 years).
  • Agile Approaches to Change (Long-Range Trend: 5 or more years). Yes, “if higher education institutions adopt startup models, it could lead to the more efficient implementation of new practices and pedagogies” (p.16), however, top-down change is normally not implemented quickly enough.
  • Evolution of Online Learning (Long-Range Trend: 5 or more years). Yes, learning is a personal experience. Online learning is no exception.

The 6 significant challenges:

  • Low Digital Fluency of Faculty (Solvable Challenge). “This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that  digital literacy is less about tools and more about  thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools  and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.” (p.22). Yes, the awareness and organisational approaches for developing digital literacy for all staff and students are urgently required.
  • Relative Lack of Rewards for Teaching (Solvable Challenge).
  • Competition from New Models of Education (Difficult Challenge). True, it’s hard to evaluate a new model across a broad range of institutional settings, especially to measure student’s engagement on a deeper level.
  • Scaling Teaching Innovations (Difficult Challenge).
  • Expanding Access (Wicked Challenge).
  • Keeping Education Relevant (Wicked Challenge). Indeed, we should ask this question “what universities can provide that other approaches  cannot, and rethink the value of higher education from  a student’s perspective.” (p.32)

The 6 important developments in educational technology for Higher Education:

  • Flipped Classroom (1 year or less). “The goal  is for students to learn more authentically by doing.” (p.36)
  • Learning Analytics (1 year or less).
  • 3D Printing (2-3 years).
  • Games and Gamifiction (2-3 years).
  • Quantified Self (4-5 years). “Quantified self describes the phenomenon of  consumers being able to closely track data that  is relevant to their daily activities through the  use of technology… Today’s apps not only  track where a person goes, what they do, and how much  time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations  are and when those can be accomplished” (p.44). I assume tools like iMeasure has already collected self-tracked data though it’s not particularly in Higher Education settings.
  • Virtual Assistants (4-5 years). Yes, there are many examples of this category. I noticed ToneCheck yesterday and installed it on Windows 7 linked Firefox and Gmail. It did not work. May try it again when I have time.

It will be interesting to look at the following tools/services closer:

  • The Capella University Competency map shows students how is their learning, such as completed assignments and where they need to concentrate their efforts.
  • CMU Sphinx open source toolkit for speech recognition project by Carnegie Mellon University.
  • GradeCraft is a learning management system being developed at the University of Michigan, with the support of the Learning Analytics Taskforce.
  • HapYak – Users can add interactive content such as links, quizzes, drawings into a video. It provides a FREE plan that includes 20 public videos and 1 author.
  • M*Modal is a leading provider of clinical documentation and Speech Understanding solutions. The University of Virginia Health System is using it for medical staff and informatics professionals to quickly and accurately capture clinical narratives for improved billing, productivity and patient care.
  • Penn State University’s One Button Studio is a low-cost model. It is a video recording set-up that enables users with no previous experience to create high quality videos.
  • The Standford University School of Medicine’s SICKO is a web-based simulation game that students practise critical decisions in the operation room.
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