Role of Tech in Higher Learning: How EdTech Will Change Colleges and Universities
Is technology finally revolutionizing the education sector? Are we entering a new era in higher education, primarily driven by EdTech? Take an example of China. Recently, an autonomous robot named Keeko was introduced in several Chinese kindergartens, where it tells stories and helps kids solve a few logic puzzles. Round and white, with a tubby body, Keeko zips around on tiny wheels, with inbuilt cameras serving as its navigational sensors. It might have been in kindergarten, but Keeko is a timely reminder of what the future of education might look like. While replacing the human teacher altogether may not happen in the near future, it appears that tech will make sweeping changes in the classroom.
4 Ways EdTech Could Change Institutions of Higher Learning
It’s difficult to predict exactly how things will unfold. We already have a few universities using AI and Machine Learning (ML) to seek new enrollments. Other schools, meanwhile, are working on AR and VR content with the hope of delivering better remote learning experiences. The possibilities are endless.
Nevertheless, let’s look at a few top trends predicted by experts.
Collaborative learning is based on Gerlach’s concept that learning is naturally societal. Gerlach says that “learners must talk among themselves. It is through talking that learning occurs.”
Many universities have been changing their teaching approaches to create a collaborative learning environment. For instance, you can see changes to the interior design of learning spaces as well as building architectures in many new universities.
For example, a growing number of universities are migrating from classroom settings with a fixed focal point at the front and fixed seats facing the podium. Instead, learning spaces are now left open with movable furniture.
Technology will significantly aid this transition, as evidenced by the changes happening at Boise State University. At Boise, traditional computer rooms have been converted into collaborative learning spaces using Solstice technology.
For those who don’t know, Solstice technology allows faculty and students to stream content conveniently and easily share files. Unlike in traditional classroom settings, there is no focal point. Instead, lecture halls are fitted with several monitors and whiteboards spread throughout the room
Similar to how you could measure the performance of a marketing campaign for a company, learning analytics is about collecting, measuring, and analyzing vital learning data to optimize learning and the environment in which it occurs.
For a long time, people have been researching learning and teaching, analyzing schools and university data, tracking the progress of students, and even designing assessments to improve teaching and learning. Learning analytics is a term that brings together all these efforts.
One of the universities using learning analytics particularly well is the Nottingham Trent University (NTU). At NTU, teachers have access to a software dashboard where they can compare a student’s performance to their peers. The student’s areas of weakness are displayed so that both the student and their teacher knows where they need to work harder.
Aside from making comparisons, analytics data also helps teachers adapt course delivery and concepts. The result is usually a tremendous improvement in student performance.
A culture of innovation
Universities have, for a long time, been recognized as the drivers of innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrenching technology in these institutions will likely result in a flurry of innovations and technological breakthroughs.
There are several trends to back this hypothesis. For example, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity of America (TIAA) recently published a report in which they encourage strategic support for innovation in universities. The report recommends having a diverse body of people in universities “who bring along a variety of opinions and proficiencies.”
It’s also worth noting that universities are pouring millions of dollars in tech-based innovations. The University of West Scotland, for instance, is heavily investing in green technology. The university recently built a $140 million campus in Lanarkshire, with green laboratories, gyms, and health centers. Needless to say, wind farms and solar panels largely power these facilities.
The university also employs smart LED lights that turn ON or OFF depending on daylight and occupancy and has a rainwater harvesting system that collects, filters, and pumps water to buildings. That’s before you mention charging points for electric cars and bicycles as well as CO2 monitors.
These technologies are likely to end up in homes and offices throughout the world eventually. But, you can clearly see that universities are leading from the front – and technology is playing a big part in the innovations.
Finally, the smart campus is the future of higher education. At least, that’s what many experts believe. According to a recent survey, 43% of education officials agreed that smart campus technology could boost retention with 50% saying that a properly designed smart campus concept would significantly reduce operation costs.
If you’re still wondering what a smart campus looks like, Richard Van Hooijdonk, in his blog, gives a detailed explanation plus a few real-life examples. A few universities are already replacing IDs with facial recognition. Then, you have immersive technologies such as AR and VR offering new learning platforms and digital assistants helping students with things like time management and organization.
In a nutshell, the smart campus is tech-driven. Every little activity is powered by technology to a degree. At the Penn State University’s Department of Geography, for instance, an augmented reality (AR) app provides students with information about the Obelisk. In Australia, meanwhile, the School of Medicine at Deakin University uses an AR app to explore the human heart in 3D.
There are many other examples across the globe including a UK-based Bolton College, where an AR app called Ada answers thousands of student questions. From attendance to which courses they’re enrolled in, and when the next class starts, Ada has all the answers. Frankly, smart campus will definitely gain momentum in 2020 and beyond.
Ready for the Next Step?
There are many other ways technology will impact education in higher learning institutions in the coming years. United Perfectum is here to help. Contact us today to discover how you can utilize these emerging technologies at your university to stay ahead of the pack.