Long-Term Impact Trends in Higher Education

September 8, 2016

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42_Barr_Banner.jpgEducause recently published the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, identifying the key trends, technologies, practices, and challenges in adopting technology in higher education. Here, we will go over the trends in higher education that could have a long term impact on the higher education sector. These trends support a shift towards student-centered learning. Read on to find out more!

Trend #1: Advancing Cultures of Innovation

Higher Education institutions have the power to be breeders of innovation - but to live up to this potential, they must first restructure the way they are set up. The trend is adopting a start-up model. Enter: The Lean Startup movement - a model that stimulates the promotion of a culture of innovation in a way that allows it to be widespread, cost-effective, and compelling.

The nature of startups foster change, evolution, and growth — mirroring the expanding possibilities of the global marketplace. This means a move away from a hierarchal approach to making decisions, and gravitation towards collaboration between students and teachers — Allowing student input is essential here.

The Lean Startup movement was founded in Silicon Valley, the modern hub of technology rooted in higher education (Silicon Valley houses Stanford University). It makes sense that the career path graduates take will be based on the skills they were taught in school, and therefore will depend on the curriculum and program offerings available at their school. This makes it essential for higher education institutes to offer and exemplify the characteristics, skills, and principles they want their students to possess, and be able to utilize in their careers. 

The modern workplace requires employees who are mentally nimble, adaptable, and creative, so higher education institutes are restructuring their curriculum to foster these skills in their students.

To prove the effectiveness of this trend, studies have shown that Stanford students experience success in their work life because of the practical, hands-on learning material they were taught in school.

What steps can higher ed institutes take? Action items:

  • Invest in entrepreneurial programs
  • Encourage faculty to develop and polish their own skills
  • Bring in guest speakers and lecturers from the industry students will likely fall into after graduation. This will help students learn how they can and will apply their learned skills on the job

Trend #2: Rethinking How Institutions Work

Changes in education (elearning, blended learning, flipped classrooms) are disrupting the traditional idea of how university and post-secondary learning works. There is a gap in what students are learning in school, and what they need to be prepared to do once they graduate. To prepare them better, policy and program developments are taking place to foster interaction and collaboration between students from different faculties and areas of study, on problem solving and innovation.

Another consideration is how to accommodate the increasing population of students - finding a method of delivering knowledge that can accommodate such a rapidly growing group of diverse learners with different learning needs. Online learning has allowed institutions to reach a wider range of students, and accommodate their varying learning needs.

Using online learning as a supplement to traditional classroom learning is proving to be the effective solution.  As written in the Educause report, “Emerging models, such as hybrid learning and competency-based education, are revealing the inefficiencies of the traditional system for nontraditional students.”

An interesting by-product of this need is a new business model - Education as a Service (EaaS). In this model, the components of a higher education are unpacked, and students can choose the courses that they want or need. EaaS proves the ROI of money spent on education, by teaching and highlighting skills that make students desirable to potential employees.  

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