Technology has changed the way we think about education. It has not only altered the way we teach and learn but also shifted the way our brains receive, process, and store information.
Recently a group of fifty-six technology experts from around the world were convened by the New Media Consortium and Educause Learning Initiative to discuss the technologies that will be the most important to “teaching, learning, or creative inquiry” in the next five years. (You can read about it here on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog.)
The experts identified six technologies that they believe will change colleges in the near future. The top two are the “integration of social media into every aspect of college life,” and the “blending of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning with face-to-face instruction.”
We are already seeing the effect of these technologies at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, both in the way we communicate with educators across the country and how we offer courses to students on- and off-campus.
Like our colleagues in other higher education institutions, we are using social networks within professional communities, such as Forma, and as a platform to share topics of interest. The next step is to integrate social media as part of the classroom experience at Virginia Seminary. Experts note that leveraging social media for social learning is a key skill for teachers of all ages.
The blending of different instructional methods through hybrid courses (part in person, part online) is particularly helpful for students who bring their own understanding and experience to the learning table. They also bridge learning environments for students who work full-time and attend courses during our summer or January terms.
Two other mid-term changes result in personalizing instruction to meet individual needs. Data-driven learning and assessment will be changing how we teach on campus in the next few years and improve performance measurement, according to the experts. At the same time, “learning by making and creating” will have a significant impact on how students receive and process content.
The final two changes are probably at least five years away. They include the continuing evolution of online learning and the ways institutions begin to mimic technology start-up companies in the way they approach teaching and learning.
The six technologies are described in “NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition,” a 52-page document that is available as a free download from the panel conveners.
For each of the trends, the report offers examples and a further-reading list, as well as a discussion of whether the changes affect leadership, policy, practice, or a combination of the three.
Dorothy Linthicum (@dslinthicum) is instructor and program coordinator at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching.