Trajectories for Digital Technology in Higher Education

Last week, EDUCAUSE Review Online published an article on 6 Trajectories for Digital Technology in Higher Education. The goal of these trajectories is to enable responsive and personalised digital learning environments in higher education. They make use of “trajectories” instead of predictions as working with trajectories means “we know where something is headed, but we refrain from guessing where it will end”.

There are 3 contextual characteristics provided before discussing the trajectories:

  • Personalisation – use of digital resources to create custom pathways for learning and degree success
  • Adoption of hybrid learning models – greater online dimensions
  • Analysis of ever-increasing amounts of data – more nuanced and timely insights into all kinds of learning processes

The 6 trajectories:

  1. Device Ownership and Mobile-First: More and more students are owning multiple personal devices. The increasing use of mobile devices for learning is leading universities to consider a mobile-first approach by integrating mobile technologies into courses. Students are no longer  constrained by campus IT networks and make use of non-university apps and services.
  2. The Textbook and Open Educational Resources (OER): The format of the textbook is changing, and the purchasing of commercial textbooks is declining (in part because of increased costs). The textbook is no longer the course requirement, but an option. There is an increasing abundance of open content and OERs.
  3. Adaptive Learning Technology: Adaptive learning technology is a kind of e-tutor to anticipate the types of resources and contents learners need to progress.
  4. Learning spaces: Learning spaces is an umbrella term referring to the physical spaces specifically designed to accommodate learning activities. The focus is not on places of presentation, but being places of discovery, invention, and knowledge construction. Students do not sit in rows but in groups around tables. Technology involved includes wireless projection.
  5. Next generation Learning Management System (LMS): A single system will not be able to meet all the future needs but will likely consist of a number of integrated applications.
  6. Learning Analytics and Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS): Analytics for teaching and learning seeks to promote learner success by providing near real-time information to instructors and advisors, helping them build and sustain positive learner momentum.

As always with this type of list, it remains to be seen what will happen in each of these areas. From this list, I am happy to see the increasing awareness of OER. For some of the others, like Learning Analytics, there seems to be a great deal of discussion of potential, but little practical impact at the moment. I am still not convinced about the need for a next generation LMS, when so many academics still do not make use of many current LMS features. But my own research will definitely tie into trajectory 1 where I will be looking at how distance students use multiple devices for supporting their learning.

 

 

 

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