Last month the New Media Consortium (NMC) released its annual Horizon Report which identifies six key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education and six challenges hindering its adoption. The NMC is a not-for-profit organization stemming from the confluence of higher education institutions, museums and companies that centers its research activity on emerging technologies.
The report divides the trends accelerating ed tech adoption into fast, mid-range and long-range trends. Fast trends are the growing perception of online learning as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning, and the gradual emergence of new learning environments. As for mid-range trends, the report identifies the credit increasingly gained by the open education resources and the growing use of data left by students on the internet, which helps improve the educational experience. The long-range trends are the ever more positive attitude of universities towards change (especially the one driven by technology) and the boost of cooperation among higher education institutions.
The six challenges impeding ed tech adoption in higher education are divided into solvable, difficult and wicked challenges. Solvable challenges are digital literacy, a skill addressed in school that encompasses the need to blend formal and informal learning. Difficult challenges are those concerning the emergence of the myriad ways of communication and interconnection and the difficulties when it comes to personalizing learning. Finally, the competition between new and traditional models of education and the lack of rewards for teaching are labeled as wicked challenges.
All in all, some trends repeat over the years, while others disappear or change to a greater or lesser extent. Technology and Education have become two inseparable realities that affect each other. Education is undergoing a seamless reshaping process, clearly influenced by technology, while the potential of technology cannot be detached from the traditional dynamics of bricks-and-mortar higher education institutions.