Online education and digital learning tools—whether as a supplement to an on-campus experience, or as a full distance-learning program—have transformed the practice of education in recent years. Even more significantly, it’s become clear that this trend is accelerating. What’s in store for this year? Here are 5 trends in Education Technology to watch in 2019.
1) Digital Transformation will kick into high gear for more than just academics.
Digital Transformation of many campus functions outside of Teaching and Learning will accelerate. This will be driven by demand for better digital services on the part of Gen Z students entering college, as well as the increasing number of off-campus students who interact primarily online. This transformation may be managed in-house or by engaging third-party service providers with expertise in specific domains. We've already seen that many schools are adopting the latest cloud-based technologies for marketing and recruiting, as the competition for students is increasing. Multi-channel admissions experiences, where prospective students can interact not only with phone and email but also via social networks, video chat, and other similar technologies, will soon be the norm. Alumni relations will quickly be adopting modern marketing and outreach tools to improve alumni engagement. Finally, as the number of on-campus students (or on-campus hours of resident students) decreases, other critical functions such as college counseling, career services, and tech support will all be moving to a primarily digital delivery system.
2) Open Educational Resources will become more common—and more interactive.
In the world of educational content, more and more OER content (including multimedia OER content) will be available to use. The emphasis will shift away from content types that are largely a passive or “lean-back” experience to ones that require the students to engage with the material using interactive components. These latter, since they are more expensive to develop and deliver, have been less available as OERs, but this looks to be changing soon. Moreover, more and more educational content will also come in bite-sized chunks, so that it can be searched for and viewed granularly, in contrast to large chapter- or lecture-sized presentations. The usefulness of content sources like Khan Academy has proven the value of this sort of segmentation of content.
3) Students will spend more time interacting with simulations.
The next generation of simulations and virtual labs tools will be maturing. These digital experiences will be powered by a number of different technologies—certainly including VR/AR, but also ordinary HTML-based services and mobile apps for both displaying and capturing information in the field. These new simulations technologies will be highly instrumented, in order to collect a great deal of useful data about student engagement and understanding of the material.
4) Personalized experiences will make education more engaging.
While “personalization” has been a buzzword for a long time (with a number of different potential meanings), the most interesting developments in personalization will be the development of tools that will allow ordinary teachers to create not just personalized but more engaging learning experiences. Drag-and-drop elements and simple authoring tools will be increasingly available to enable faculty to create adaptive multimedia learning modules. Inside these environments, students will be asked to self-direct their own learning through a project or through a problem-solving narrative. These will help move students from a passive to a more active mode inside an experience that adapts to them.
5) Student work will move into e-portfolios.
We will see more and more student work being created and distributed outside the LMS. Many students are already using a variety of content creation and collaboration platforms, such as Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive. In addition to these relatively generic tools, more specialized platforms will be increasingly used, especially for project-based learning. Examples include technical design and VR tools, which create document formats proper to within those systems. This will also mean that the e-portfolio will become increasingly important as a place for students to store their work products, as well as displaying them to potential employers. Especially as the concern grows about improving the transition from higher education to employment, increasingly students will be using examples of their own work (often created in the same tools that they will use in their future employment) as evidence of mastery.
As we head into 2019, we’re finally seeing some of the emerging trends of the last few years bear fruit. It’s a great time for schools to start working with technologies that are no longer just for early adopters but are starting to make meaningful progress in engaging learners across their educational experience.