Role Of Technology In Higher Education – As a reader of this newsletter, you may have experienced the reality of higher education today: staring at a shared screen for hours, trying to monologue a professor to follow, again and again. A few students were willing to turn on their webcams. Fortunately, there is an entire industry dedicated to developing new technologies to improve education: EdTech. In this article, we will examine how new learning technologies can improve or disrupt higher education as it currently exists.
Before we dive into higher education, let’s take a general look at the EdTech market and its dynamics. You can take the complete deep dive on Notation here.
Role Of Technology In Higher Education
“EdTech – education technology – covers not only online learning, but also the full suite of software, hardware and digital tools and services that help deliver education.”
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EdTech for higher education captured 16% of the total amount invested by VCs worldwide in 2020 ( source ). Its main market, higher education, is expected to grow to nearly a quarter of the $10 trillion spent on education and training by 2030 ( source ).
An attempt to map the market shows that EdTech is a segmented market for higher education itself, with 4 dimensions, 16 areas and 70+ capabilities.
As Eric Torenberg pointed out on the Village Global Podcast, common complaints about higher education include:
In recent years, EdTech companies have started to take advantage of the weaknesses of the current education system by developing online platforms to deliver MOOCs (Online Courses Mòr Open) to spread.
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EdTech unicorns like Udemy ($3.3bn) or Coursera ($2.5bn) solve a big problem in higher education: they provide skills rather than knowledge, at a low cost. For example, Udemy’s best-selling courses offer the opportunity to learn Python, web development, advanced Excel or financial analysis from scratch for less than $30 per course. Compared to classic higher education courses, MOOCs are scalable and easy to access. For example, Google has started offering professional vocational qualifications to learn ‘work-ready skills’. What they offer is simple: you can learn to be a data scientist, UX designer, or project manager in three to six months for free. In terms of quality, they take advantage of large databases of usage data to continuously improve classes and increase engagement.
However, although some MOOCs platforms have become EdTech unicorns, they have not replaced the classical higher education system. As expected, they also have their limitations. Some of the main limitations include:
As a solution to these problems, MOOC platforms and higher education institutions have started offering joint full-credit online degrees. When comparing the individual steps, they look like a good choice as they are:
Today, there are approximately 55 MOOC-based degrees available worldwide. However, I find it difficult to imagine that MOOC-based degrees are the future of higher education.
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In theory, MOOC-based degrees seem like the perfect alternative to old-school in-person degrees. In practice, they are missing an important element: the knowledge of the campus. The campus experience facilitates social interaction with other students, fosters a sense of community, helps develop lifelong friendships, emotional intelligence and networking skills.
For that reason, it is hard to believe that EdTech MOOCs will replace the unicorn higher education institutions as we know them when students return to campus. In-person education has a clear added value compared to online learning. However, without universities introducing new technologies to improve the learning experience, the incredible price difference is no longer justified.
Learning from MOOCs, I believe that higher education can address some of its critics with the help of EdTech in the coming years.
Improve distance learning and reduce costs – First, to reduce costs and improve distance learning, higher education institutions can rely on next-generation learning management systems (LMSs) and testing tools.
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In addition, EdTech solutions can help combat low student participation in remote classes and improve campus life (an added value compared to MOOCs).
Overall, EdTech seems to be a growing and growing market, given a positive boost by the pandemic. The emergence of the MOOC unicorn has certainly challenged the current higher education system and addressed some of its weaknesses. The battle may not be lost yet, however, as MOOCs are not perfect substitutes: they cannot replace knowledge in the classroom. On the other hand, many solutions have been developed to support higher education institutions to bring their teaching into the 21st century and to protect tuition fees.
However, universities will need more than flexible tools to meet expectations. Some initiatives, such as Stanford 2025, show that a major change in the classical system obtained from the Bologna process is necessary to achieve this.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of opportunities for the next EdTech unicorn to boost the university experience.
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A bi-weekly newsletter on recent developments in the venture capital industry, our take on key trends, and an in-depth look at how VC works. The disruptive power of technology in higher education is strongly felt. Students have high expectations of the technical capabilities offered by their chosen institution. Faculty must lead as they adapt to new technologies and learning methods, and IT staff must be prepared to support the technologies we use today and those we will implement tomorrow.
However, the future of technology in higher education is promising. The same technologies that have disrupted learning have the potential to provide solutions to these and other higher education issues.
Technology has improved our ability to connect and collaborate with each other. It also raised our expectations for connections everywhere. As more and more students bring their own devices to campus, high-speed wireless access is essential.
In addition to wireless access, schools can offer different types of connections to help students get information and feel part of the larger campus community through tools like digital signage. A network of connected digital signage displays allows colleges and universities to push campus-wide messages, department- and location-specific information and critical updates. They also allow integration with social media to engage all students in a shared message.
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Students now expect a more technologically rich learning experience than many higher education providers are used to providing.
Like K-12 students, college students easily engage with video-based lessons and other interactive tools. Faculty will need support to find and integrate high-quality college-level content into their courses. They may want to replace their classrooms, which require infrastructure to collect and deliver cloud education.
Additionally, tools that collect data and personalize learning for each student will improve the ability of higher education institutions to prepare students for employment. Faculty will need support to implement these tools, and students (and their parents) will want to be sure that their data is secure in these administrative tools and technologies.
To reflect these changes IT staff must be well trained in new learning technologies. They also need to feel supported and respected by the faculty and administration. The move to cloud education can scare supporters that they will no longer be needed. But cloud technologies do not replace the need for on-premises support; They just change the type of support needed.
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Make sure your administration is willing to provide ongoing education to your IT staff so you can keep the best people on your team – and ensure they stay engaged and effective. Vendor support is also important when implementing new technologies. When working with vendors, make sure you negotiate sufficient support in your contracts.
New technologies and learning methods are coming to higher education. As these changes occur, they raise many issues in higher education. As students work their way through a digitally enhanced K-12 system, they’ll expect the same kind of personalized learning and multimodal learning they’re used to. They also reinforce their independence as young adults and bring many different tools to campus.
As technology becomes more powerful, it will continue to improve learning and provide new ways to access education. IT staff, faculty, administrators and vendors all need to work together to ensure we reach our full potential in the future.
Jennifer Rowland is an experienced technology writer, having worked for various ISTE publications for 12 years before striking out on her own. His work has been featured in Ed Tech: Focus on K-12, KQED’s NPR affiliate MindShift and the education blog edCetera. ISTE published Jennifer’s first book, “The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology,” in 2009. Follow her posts about ed tech and marketing at edtechcopywriter.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jenroland In our rapidly changing world, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, changing many areas, including education. In classrooms and at home, Internet-connected devices are becoming ubiquitous, changing the educational landscape.
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