A Look Ahead

What’s happening with education technology in 2014?

GUEST COLUMN | by Laurie Burruss

Access to information in combination with knowledge and critical thinking skills that come from education are key to future success whether you live in Kazakhstan or Kansas. Innovation in technology has allowed for a better understanding of the diverse, global student population and their learning needs.

This raises important questions about the future of education, specifically higher ed: Have colleges and universities lost sight of the end goal? Is higher ed too focused on the diploma, instead of education that leads to employment? What is the role of online education in schools? Is it a supplement or a life-long learning path? What innovations will revolutionize the way we look at higher education? Education technology will be big in 2014; what are key disruptions and innovations on the horizon?

Education technology will be big in 2014; what are key disruptions and innovations on the horizon? 

Here are a few technology trends and issues to expect from higher education in 2014:

  • Software. As more and more software companies move to cloud-based SaaS offerings, creating secure networks and integration to infrastructure for cloud applications will become a major headache for IT managers. Also at issue will be “subscription fatigue”—as a growing number of education tech services transition to a subscription-model based on per capita expenditures.
  • Security. Providing secure cloud storage for research and knowledge capital will be important in 2014. Many of the most popular services are not nearly as secure as people perceive—especially when they’re sync’d to multiple devices.
  • Identity management. Setting up “big data” services for staff and students will be paramount. Institutions will be looking for ways to organize, interpret, and act on massive amounts of data. Building, maintaining, and protecting individual profiles is key.
  • Integrated online education. Institutions will need to provide a range of services from face-to-face to online opportunities in education that lead to a variety of growing form factors that include degrees, certificates, badges, MOOCs and continued life-long learning. The challenge is determining the right blend and type of educational offerings that match the brand, culture, and business model of the individual organization.
  • On-the-job training. Expect businesses to begin providing professional development to employees upon graduation from colleges and universities by way of online education. Expect schools to provide “real life” work-based experiences before students complete their education at a university or college.
  • Education for all. A priority will be closing the digital divide between low- and high-income families through online learning with representation in the school’s demographics. Digital literacy will be requisite to successful achievement in education. 

What’s changing the industry? You can also expect some disruptions in “the way we’ve always done it” next year:

  • Textbooks are dead. In case you haven’t noticed, the sale of textbooks has drastically declined in recent years—due in part to a growing realization that appropriate aggregated learning resources in a variety of forms and sources will replace the single-textbook curriculum of past generations. The challenge will be creating new systems for the delivery, cost, annotation, and attribution of these “textbook replacement” services (both paid and unpaid).
  • Affordable, successful education. Students and families will have the opportunity to reshape their ideas of what constitutes a quality affordable education. Students will move from “on-paper” resumes to evidence-based professional online portfolios in preparation for entering a highly competitive economic situation. Compare it to the transition from printed newspapers to online news subscription agencies. A variety of in-school and out-of-school learning experiences and practices will show evidence of key skills in technology and subject matter expertise. The diploma will be only one piece of learning evidence as students “design” their own educational pathways.
  • Mobility. Look for continued development and adoption of seamless mobile applications and hardware in higher ed. Adoption over the last three years has increased annually by 30 percent—it’s just the tip of the iceberg!
  • Focus on innovation. More than ever before, there is an increased need and demand for creativity and innovation skills or what is termed “design thinking” across all sectors of business upon graduation from college/university.
  • Free for all! Global access to higher education pedagogy and practices will continue to increase, and so will the variety of education offerings ranging from free to $ to $$$$.
  • Closing the gap. Online education provides a new and improved opportunity for closing the digital divide that economics has created between poverty and the top one percent. Possible solutions will include day care, parent education, and the like (yes, this relates to higher education applicant pools in the next 20 years).

With technology costs lower than ever and with professors and technology companies partnered to solve the “wicked problems” of education, an evolution is in the works for traditional education in higher education. This year is just the beginning of a seismic shift that will be felt for many years to come.

Education Consultant at lynda.com, Laurie Burruss serves as the director of digital media at Pasadena City College, where she has also been design professor for the past 15 years. Laurie is a professional digital storyteller, and she has developed a rich curriculum in digital and new media, which includes Flash, ActionScripting, web design and development, motion graphics, digital video editing, 3D modeling and animation, and environmental graphics design. As director of the Digital Media Programs at PCC, she has established many partnerships and collaborations in interactive multimedia, with companies such as Warner Bros., Disney Imagineering, Industrial Light and Magic, and Apple. Laurie has served as project director for grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor, and more. Laurie received a BFA and an MFA in fine arts from the University of Southern California.

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