The Future Of Higher Ed And Its Impact On Elearning

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I recently came across the 2012 Higher Education Edition of the NMC Horizon Report, and found it quite fascinating. It gave me a lot of insights about the state of higher education globally and also left me thinking about how these developments would impact the global elearning industry. I certainly believe that it is vital for all developers of elearning to understand these trends and adapt to the new paradigms of learning. Here are the key points from the Horizon report.

Trends Currently Affecting Teaching, Learning, and Creative Inquiry in Higher Education:

  1. People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  2. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  3. The world of work is increasingly collaborative, driving changes in the way student projects are structured.
  4. The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.
  5. Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models.
  6. There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning.

Important Constraints and Challenges:

  1. Economic pressures and new models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of higher education.
  2. Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
  3. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  4. Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies.
  5. New modes of scholarship are presenting significant challenges for libraries and university collections, how scholarship is documented, and the business models to support these activities.

Technologies to Watch:

  1. Near-term Horizon (Within the next 12 months)
    • Mobile Apps
    • Tablet Computing
  2. Mid-term Horizon (Within the next 3 years)
    • Game-Based Learning
    • Learning Analytics
  3. Far-term Horizon (Within the next 5 years)
    • Gesture-Based Computing
    • The Internet of Things

How do these developments affect the elearning industry?

There’s no doubt about the fact that the realm of higher education worldwide is going to undergo a vast transformation. With newer and better technology becoming increasingly affordable, classrooms the world over are evolving. What we need to keep in mind is this – These teens are going to be a part of the global workforce in another 4-5 years. They will enter the workplace expecting newer and better methods of training. The question is – Are organizations and elearning developers preparing to handle the coming shift in learning technologies, or will we be caught napping?

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