The Tools, the Science, How we Credential Students … all are Evolving, at a Quickening Pace
I gave this talk at the ICIET 2016 conference in Los Angeles, CA, early this year, and have been meaning to “memorialize” it in video format. This weekend I finally got around to it.
Many industries have been forever changed through the advent and impact of modern digital technologies. Surprisingly, there are still many in the world of academics that think we are somehow immune to these changes. Yet the fact is, the digitization of instruction and delivery of educational services is happening at a quickening pace.
I do believe, as many good educators do, that technology is ultimately just one of the tools at our disposal as teachers and administrators. However, many underestimate the impact of what is being wrought as technology enables changes to the instructional process and all that surrounds it. It has been said that the impact of technology is overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term. Having passed through the ‘PC revolution’ in the 90’s, the ‘Internet revolution’ in the 00’s and now living through the ‘mobile revolution’, we are increasingly in the midst of “the long term”.
It’s not too hard to miss the sea-change happening around you when you are too busy just trying to keep your head above water. But we must not continue to underestimate the impact technology is having on the education industry and the speed at which the changes are coming.
Here are a handful of digital technology-enabled changes that are altering what it means to teach and learn:
- Delivery: This is the longest standing and most widely accepted technology-driven change. Most higher education institutions have dipped their toes in the waters of online Programs. As of 2012, the US DOE reported that 1 in 4 students has taken some or all of their courses online, and that figure is predicted to grow steadily.
- The Flipped Classroom: This grassroots movement just keeps gaining steam at all levels of education. Few educators are unaware of the movement, and research regarding its effectiveness continues to expand. The annual Horizons Report has cited the construct as ready for widespread adoption immediately in 2014 and 2015.
- The Tools Available: The number and variety of tools continues to explode, and various technologies are beginning to move from “infancy” to “adolescence”. Adaptive Learning tools, augmented reality, 3D printing, virtual reality, and much more, all sliding further along the maturity index, tipping the scales of possibility even further.
- The move to make micro-credentialing more mainstream: Two recent developments bought to light how fast this is gathering momentum. The Lumina Foundation recently published their proposed framework for “connecting diverse credentials”. This is the first serious effort at establishing a common framework for traditional institutions of higher education to accept and award credit for small scale credentials from MOOCs, professional development training, and other non-traditional sources. Another important development is the move to consider how Federal Aid could be provided for these types of offerings.
- Competency Based Education: The pace at which the Department of Education is moving to embrace CBE is nothing short of shocking. All seven regional accrediting bodies in the US now have paths to accredit Competency Based programs. Only a few years ago, few would have predicted this growing acceptance of the idea of displacing Clock Hours with Competencies as the measure of learning in higher education. While CBE does not inherently require technology, many successful programs leverage it well to help meet the needs of students, assess competencies, and more.
- The Learning Science: Our understanding of how we learn, and the relationship between different tools, techniques, and students' ability to comprehend and retain, also keep evolving.
These are just a few of the many changes that are coming together to significantly alter the landscape of an institution that has barely changed for centuries. The pace of change is quickening – academic leaders need to get on board and get ahead of the curve, or they may be left behind.