TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
The education technology forecast for 2017 could perhaps be described in a single word: change. "We're now on an exponential pace of technological change," said Daniel Christian, adjunct faculty member and senior instructional designer at Michigan's Calvin College. "Several technologies continue to converge, new forms of human-computer interaction are gaining visibility and traction, and more. The next few years will be interesting indeed!"
We asked a panel of five higher ed leaders from across the country, including Christian, to assess education's top tech-related trends for the coming year — from artificial intelligence to Generation Z. Here's what they told us.
The story of the creation of OpenScholar would be familiar to anybody who's ever tried to fix a specific problem by addressing the broader underlying need. Gary King, director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, would get requests from faculty and staff for help to build websites, which would end up costing thousands of dollars—"sort of ridiculous," he said.
So members of King's team began studying scholarly websites. What they learned was that the websites were "structurally identical," even if they did have unique looks. "They all have a CV; they all have a list of classes; they have a list of papers; they have a picture and a bio. They're all exactly the same," King explained. Yet every faculty member would want his or her own look and feel, graphic design and URL.
When the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign began running massive open online courses through Coursera, the institution quickly realized that the real power of those free courses was to introduce a world of prospective students to its campus programs — including the iMBA, its new online master's degree in business. The Digital Media team within the College of Business has played an important role in helping the college's production capabilities grow in quality and quantity. Now that team faces what may be its biggest challenge ever: accommodating up to 3,000 students in any particular online course.
Building up to that point has been an iterative process, said Digital Media Manager John Tubbs. The earliest video setup used for live sessions consisted of a webcam sitting on top of a 40-inch television monitor. "It was pretty crude," he recalled.
Like all district administrators, Dr. Ayindé Rudolph, superintendent at Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD), wants to see students improve, be challenged and get excited about learning. But that’s not always easy when students perform at different proficiency levels and speeds.
It was about this time last year, in January 2016, when Rudolph was working on a strategic plan that he hoped could address the needs of all MVWSD students. Among the tools the district found was Teach to One: Math (TTO), a digital personalized learning program by New Classrooms, a New York-based nonprofit, that adapts to a student’s individual skills and gaps.
But the program didn’t work out the way the district had hoped or planned. Just weeks into the pilot last fall, parents wanted to see it removed from their children’s classrooms. Now, only about halfway through the pilot, the district has decided to pull the plug.