Trends in Higher Education?

I’ve been asked to contribute to a series of short briefing papers for use by administration, in identifying and planning for trends in higher education. There are some obvious trends (social software – go to them, instead of making them come to us; open content; remix culture; personal publishing and the PLE; etc…) but I’m wondering about any non-obvious trends that people might be seeing. Anything surprising happening on other campuses? Are things like mobile access really starting to take off (esp. in Canada, where mobile internet charges are so unbelievably expensive)?

15 thoughts on “Trends in Higher Education?”

  1. D’Arcy,

    I think we’re going to see a change in WHO the learners are. I work with people in the trades and others already in the workplace who are doing continuing education. While they are the ones who need flexibility the most, they haven’t been among the first to adopt e-learning technologies and methods. Look for this to change.

    One thing that I’m worried about is backlash. I think that there will continue to be resistance from administrators and faculty/teachers over a loss of their control of the learning process. I’m waiting to see whether we push right past them and sail onto something better or they reseize control and put us back into rows in classrooms.

  2. @Heather: demographics are definitely changing (age, background, culture, etc…). Backlash is a definite possibility, especially if these trends aren’t accounted for by administration – if you’re not doing chalk-and-talk, you’re not teaching…

    @Jason: that’s a pretty good trend. Lots of universities putting content out there. I’d put that particular example into both “go to them” (their iPods) and Open Content (sharing content outside the walls of the university)

  3. Hi D’Arcy-
    Here is the biggest trend (at least in the States) higher and higher tuition- less return.
    Note: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs- neither made it through with a degree.
    The main thing higher education has to fight is the value proposition. Face it- why should a kid go to college to get a degree when he has mad AJAX skills- or can make C- sound like a symphony?
    It’s not technology, or education- it’s about what are you doing for me- the student.
    Answer that question- and you will have all the students you can handle.
    One of the biggest problems has, and will continue to be- is the ability for those teaching to be in tune with the changing markets.
    my .02 cents.

  4. D’Arcy – wi-fi access is becoming more prevelent across Canada. There is still a barrier of the cost, but some governments are starting to see that it is a long term strategy and biting the bullet.

  5. Relevancy akin to what David says above, but more about trying to make teaching/learning relevant to contexts students are familiar with. Dynamic assessment, giving feedback in multiple ways (and from multiple sources–peers, experts, etc.). Informal learning more generally–students going to “non-academic” sources to learn from–Wikipedia, search, blogs, etc.

    Google, or google-like apps supplanting desktop apps.

    Just off the top of my (with a little help from the hubby) head.

  6. Hopefully the democratization and omnipotence of the digital media will infuse universities with greater accountability and a refocus on track records and responsibility rather than ego, reputation, and disdain for everything off campus.

  7. One of the biggest trends that I’m seeing in post-secondary is accountability and standards compliance in curriculum. As we move to a more personalized learning environments, this is going to be a challenge. On the one side we see students who want personal freedom in how they are learning. On the other side, governments are making institutions become more accountable through standards-based curriculum – and tying their funding to their ability to meet these standards. Bridging the needs of administration and learners is going to be difficult, as they seem to be going in two different directions.

  8. so, relevance, access, informal learning, and outside-the-institution resources…

    @bryan: we’ll definitely be taking advantage of the Horizon Report – we’ve got a few hard copies. I need to ground it more in what’s actually happening around here, but will be nudging toward much of the stuff in that report.

  9. @jim: WordPress isn’t so much a trend, as it is a force of nature… I’ll be mentioning WP (and other tools like it) in the “personal publishing” and “personal learning environment” briefs.

  10. Sorry I missed this conversation D’Arcy – I would suggest that a blurring between the private and the public space of learning – which is really an integration of the formal and the nonformal/informal under the control and direction of the student. I see my progressive implementation of Elgg asan institutional tool that steps into and out of public/private “spaces” at the behest of the student/ work groups. With the implementation of Explode and OpenId the distinctions between seperate learning/social spaces becomes blurred – and then the introduction of a desktop environment like pageflakes moves us into the dashboard control of those spaces. is the institution going to become the true provider/facilitator of lifelong learning, and allow students to step in and out of learning within their own learning spaces that are housed on the institutional server? Will the institutions become hoiarders or sharers, blockers or enablers, status quo or status free?

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