How Technology Is Reshaping The Education Landscape – Part Two
In part one of our two-part series, we delve into how technology is reshaping the education landscape, with the influence of changing student preferences and alternative study modes.
Here, we will explore exactly what is in store for the future of study, how emerging technologies are expected to play a huge part in the progression of study and why it is crucial for education providers to remain one step ahead in this education movement.
Emerging Tech to Watch Out For – Hyped vs Helpful
What’s next? Some technologies receive a lot of media attention, but are they all they’re cracked up to be?
Augmented Reality - hyped
AR has been much-hyped, but its real-world applications remain limited and its uptake small. It’s an expensive technology to install, and many question whether it actually solves any problems or offers worthwhile benefits. In other words, this is a low ROI novelty. Some have pointed out that it’s unlikely to change the way teachers and learners work in any meaningful way. While it’s still evolving, it’s currently confined to medical and engineering applications in an education context.
5G to succeed Wifi, NBN and 4G - helpful
Slated for rollout in 2019 and 2020, much faster and more reliable internet connections are just around the corner. Australian networks are currently being switched on, according to WhistleOut. For educators and students, this means that it’s more feasible to deliver rich multimedia learning materials through online portals, and with 5g reception available inside buildings, it will ease the strain on campus wi-fi networks.
Inclusivity - helpful
This is less a technology in and of itself than an approach to developing educational technology. As public awareness grows around equity and access for disabled people, so does the expectation that educators will provide a more even playing field for those with disabilities. According to the Hechinger Report, the majority of people with disabilities don’t get a degree; for those who start a degree, only a third graduate within 8 years. To remedy this, educators can make their online-only courses equivalent to traditional delivery – and there is a push for employers to recognise online courses as equally valid.
Change as Opportunity
1) Emphasise Relevance
Change is coming, whether we like it or not. Tertiary institutions need to adapt by first understanding their customers’ evolving preferences and be clear around the different segments they are targeting.
Students are increasingly questioning the value of higher education, and knowledge is becoming more commodified as the price of a degree rises and the spectre of graduate unemployment and underemployment looms. This explains the rising popularity of courses marketed as having ‘real world applications’, producing ‘job-ready graduates’. Additionally, offering a fast-track option or condensed learning timeframes can attract students anxious about job outcomes.
According to Dr Patricia Glasby of UQ’s Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, “Students are already rethinking the value of a traditional university education. New models that provide both the opportunity to save money and progress more quickly through degree programs will become increasingly sought after.”
2) Skills for the 21st Century
The best approach is one that also provides the workforce with relevant skills – targeted technical skills, and especially the transferable skills that will only be in more demand in the 21st century. According to research by consulting firm Accenture, in order to keep up tomorrow’s demand for skills, we need courses to suit the future of work and knowledge.
New approaches are needed to move past the old paradigm that sees university education as the pinnacle of education, and expects linear progression through the ensuing career. The new paradigm will have an emphasis on lifelong learning, with continuous upskilling and reskilling.
Short courses and online delivery look like a good start on an answer, allowing for an agile career that adapts quickly to new technologies. RMIT’s ‘future of work’ short courses are targeted to solve this exact problem. These are online-only courses that students can undertake while studying, in future-focused fields and skills. Courses like this respond to workforce needs, leveraging new technologies to provide students with an career-relevant, ongoing learning experience that will support them through their journey.
In terms of recruitment, and delivering education, educators should think about partnering with third parties. For example, many universities partner with educational technology companies and platforms – such as recording lectures with Echo360 or fostering discussions on set readings via Perusall.
This makes expanded, rich learning opportunities possible that may not be available otherwise. Partnering with an industry-leading recruitment service such as Candlefox offers the personalised, interactive experience that students expect in today’s digital environment. Many of the experiences and tools that students today expect are only achievable with partnerships, as platforms and digital services become more sophisticated and integrated.
Some treat the incoming changes like a simple case of swapping outmoded tools for newer, shinier ones. And while the changes afoot may seem like unwelcome disruptions to well-functioning models, they may reveal themselves in time to be opportunities to improve.
The paradigm of higher education looks like it’s on the edge of a revolution. And so the question becomes, rather, will you cling to the old systems and the old ways? Or will you be at the forefront of a new movement?