The New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2014 Higher Education Edition was recently released. This is always a good read and I appreciate the depth from which their research reaches. There are several pages of information on the process for conducting the study and how the panel of experts is set up. This report should be read by administrators and those who make policy decisions.
As I read through the trends, challenges, and developments outlined by the report, I thought about the training eCampus has been providing and what faculty who have been working with us have been able to accomplish and how it fits into the schema of things.
Key Trends Accelerating Higher Education Technology Adoption
Fast Trends: Driving changes in higher education over the next one to two years
> Growing Ubiquity of Social Media
Incorporating social media is your class is one way to keep student’s engaged with you, their peers, and with the practitioners. eCampus has been encouraging the use of social media for years. If teachers aren’t yet ready to use social media with their students, we have encouraged using social media with peers and colleagues to keep up with the trends in one’s industry. eCampus classes are using twitter, google+ communitities, blogs, YouTube, Voicethread and more.
Integrating social media that tie into the currently used LMS would be a great feature that would benefit students who rely on social media for notifications. Along with encouraging the use of social media, some kind of instruction on privacy, social media etiquette, and the impact of your web presence should be discussed. This conversation should be integrated into all of our general education classes or into a digital preparedness class like what LS 101 does for researching.
> Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning
Since eCampus specializes in online learning pedagogy and technology, we’ve been working most often with teachers who want to integrate more online elements into their face-to-face classes. A big element of creating a great online course includes methods for incorporating Instructor presence, this is similar to preparing “lecture material” for flipped or hybrid classes. eCampus classes use screencasting tools such as Screencast-O-Matic or explain anything on the ipad, video recording through YouTube with a web cam or with use of our video recording room, or audio recording through Soundcloud or Audacity.
Making sure our instructors have up-to-date computer equipment, access to rather inexpensive equipment (microphone or web cam), along with the training and time to create is something that administrators can help with.
Strategies used for engaging students is another element of an online class that can easier be transferred to a hybrid class or even a class in which teachers what to engage their students outside of class time. eCampus courses use discussion boards, commenting on blog posts, or group projects using Google Drive.
Supporting students with technical issues can play a big role in how successful engagement can be. Student help and training is crucial.
Mid-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education within three to five years
> Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment
Finding patterns in students learning could be very helpful in producing more successful students who are able to spend more time on learning things they don’t understand rather then requiring “busywork” to reach and end goal. As with any data, however, the results can be read in many different ways so a good strategy for implementing the results of analysis should be encouraged. We can already tell when and how often a student clickson a page in an online learning course but we don’t know what else is going on. Maybe the hour that they spent there also included watching a tv show, a walk around the block with the dog, or reading multiple other window tabs in their browser.
> Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators
eCampus has long been encouraging teachers to have students being the creators and contributors of knowledge in online classes, instead of sitting passively reading or watching content being delivered. When learners are distributed, the level of creation is limited to the resources that are in one’s own community. The report talks about Makerspaces which are becoming very popular in some of the larger communities and taking various forms offering hardware and electronic tools like metal-working tools, as well as access to artistic equipment like kilns, and digital equipment like laser cutters or 3-D printers. There are currently many activities on campus that offer opportunities for students to create and build objects for various purposes. Encouraging this practice can only increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Offering the benefits of makerspaces to online students is a bit more difficult as we don’t know who may or may not have access to the equipment they need to produce their ideas.
Long-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education in five or more years
> Agile Approaches to Change
In many eCampus courses, students are asked to seek out experts or practitioners in their community to be interviewed, act as mentors, or be a resource for practical knowledge about a concept being taught. One of the advantages that online courses have is that they often bring together people from several geographical areas and thus provide the opportunity for different perspectives, different strategies for finding success, and different opportunities.
> Evolution of Online Learning
eCampus on one top of the world! or at least close to the top of the world! With a team of 12 Instructional Designers and a talented and well informed student and program service team ready to support your efforts in moving online…you too could be a part of the evolution! This trends seems to go along with Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning and the developments of Flipped Classrooms.
Significant Challenges Impeding Higher Education Technology Adoption
Solvable Challenges: Those that we understand and know how to solve
> Low Digital Fluency of Faculty
eCampus is entering its 10th year in offering iTeach workshops for faculty development. We’ve worked with over 290 teachers who have attended our 4- or 5-day intensive training. This doesn’t count the number of teacher’s we’ve worked directly with on course development, the consultations available to any teacher on campus, or the short training sessions we’ve offered.
> Relative Lack of Rewards for Teaching
Receiving financial rewards for developing and integrating new technology or strategies into a class often goes unnoticed and is non-existent in many colleges and schools. Sometimes a workload exchange can be arranged. eCampus does offer some reward for innovation and development – watch for announcements at idesign.uaf.edu. It is also time for academics to reward tenture-track faculty who see teaching as a priority as opposed to research alone. Administrators need to come up with some alternatives to provide financial and time support for being innovative or trying new things.
Difficult Challenges: Those we understand but for which solutions are elusive
> Competition from New Models of Education
eCampus has long been a proponent of making course resources open to the public with assignment feedback being given only to enrolled students. Being able to offer experience, expertise, feedback, and support are advantages that localized online courses offer.Why not take advantage of the content experts at other institutions who are creating content for the masses and incorporating the resource into your own class. UAF should take advantage of its unique expertise and relevance of the Arctic and Indigenous populations. eCampus is currently working on a couple of small-scale MOOCs for the Justice program to see how they are received and to see how they integrate into the curriculum already being offered.
> Scaling Teaching Innovations
eCampus relies on departments and schools and colleges to provide the leadership for organization changes.
Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address
> Expanding Access
Access to computers and broadband is an on-going issue throughout Alaska. Even in urban areas, connectivity to households is a challenge as internet services aren’t available and aren’t expected to become available in the near future. One should be mindful of these considerations when developing an online course, but shouldn’t totally hold back innovation. Low bandwidth alternatives may be available.
> Keeping Education Relevant
One of the strategies we like to include in online courses is to create a relationship between the student the the community in which they seek a career. Helping students to make that connect can make the learning more meaningful and relevant. Asking students to bring the knowledge that they might have already gained, their life experiences, can be value to the class as to help students make connections to the content.
Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
> Flipped Classroom
eCampus has helped many instructors create presentations and recorded lectures and lessons to flip their classroom so that precious in-class time can be spent on interaction, group work, discussion, and projects. Often students come to class without having done their pre-reading and aren’t prepared for class time. Flipping your classroom makes the student responsible for being prepared for class activities.
> Learning Analytics
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
> 3D Printing
Just think of the possibilities if you could print out hard-to-find or replacements parts for equipment or experimental projects. Having access to just equipment at a higher education institution goes along with students are creators, makerspaces, and making education relevant.
> Games and Gamification
Incorporating game theory into your class or program can be very engaging for both your students and for you! eCampus has been working with several instructors who have added gaming elements to their courses including JRN 101.
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
> Quantified Self
eCampus was the first Alaskan institution to be a Google Glass Explorer and we’re currently implementing the glass into several learning projects. Other faculty participating in the CITE Fellows project received wearable wristbands to monitor activities to learn more about one’s habits. Incorporating such technology into classwork isn’t too far away.
> Virtual Assistant
For now, you’ll have to accept the assistance of real assistants from eCampus!