Emerging Technologies in Learning

Whether you’re pursuing a B.A. or studying for the GMAT exam with the hopes of getting into business school, technology will be your constant companion in and out of the classroom.

So you should expect to see numerous technological developments in the months and years ahead as emerging technologies in learning transform the way you learn in significant ways.

According to The NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, there are definitely some critical developments in technology for higher education that could materialize – in some cases within months – even as you study towards achieving your academic objectives.

What follows, therefore, is a rundown of what the report says about the six key technological developments that will make an impact across the higher education landscape.

Technologies to Look For: Time-to-Adoption of One Year or Less
According to the report, there are two critical developments in education technology for higher education that have a time-to-adoption time frame of one year or less. Those are, one, bring your own device (BYOD) and, two, learning analytics and adaptive learning.

Bring Your Own Device
The report notes that the BYOD trend in higher education is a function of the popularity of technology among millennials. Millennials, as of last year, became the biggest generation represented in America’s workforce, and this group is accustomed to using mobile technology. In terms of the classroom, a lot of students are coming to school with their own mobile technology, and they typically connect to the networks of their post-secondary institutions. One study in 2015 found, in fact, that 42% of post-secondary institutions in the U.S. had rolled out a BYOD program in 2014. This trend is likely to continue. The report adds that institutions of higher learning will increasingly ensure that digital textbooks, educational content, and more will be designed to cater to students who want to access these things on mobile devices.

Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning
Learning analytics refers to “an educational application of web analytics aimed at learner profiling,” according to the report. The aim of such a technology is to facilitate active learning, to identify at-risk students, and to analyze things that play a role in how students perform. On the other hand, adaptive learning technologies “apply learning analytics through software and online platforms,” notes the report. The fact that adaptive learning technologies can be fine-tuned to meet the specific needs of individual students is a big benefit. An exciting development is a trend that has seen private entities team up with education providers to advance adaptive learning.

Technologies to Look For: Time-to-Adoption of Two to Three Years
The report adds that there are two critical developments in education technology for higher education that have a time-to-adoption time frame of two to three years. These include, one, augmented and virtual reality and, two, markerspaces.

Augmented and Virtual Reality
According to the report, augmented reality refers to “the layering of data over 3D spaces to produce a new experience of the world, sometimes referred to as ‘blended reality’, amplifies access to information, bringing new opportunities for learning.” Meanwhile, virtual reality is a term that refers to “computer-generated environments that simulate the physical presence of people and objects to generate realistic sensory experiences.” While augmented reality and virtual reality have traditionally been used in the consumer sector, they are increasingly being seen as tools that can facilitate more thorough understanding in learning environments. The report references Google Cardboard, which is a headset that can be attached to a smartphone. With this technology combination, students can make their own virtual reality content. The report added that educators are paying attention because it is readily accessible and versatile.

Markerspaces is a term that describes the response to the question about “how to renovate or re-purpose classrooms and labs to address the needs of the future,” notes the report. They involve workshop situations in, among other places, education institutions, and they allow people to work collaboratively in a hands-on environment. Essentially, these environments provide a location where participants can take part in self-directed projects that trigger their creativity, that help them to figure out their interests, and that set them on the path towards continuous learning throughout their lives.