Educational Technology Trends for 2015


Season’s greetings one and all. As the Ed. tech team finish the washing up and recycle the wrapping paper (providing we’ve all been good this year), we take a little time out to reflect upon last year and predict what’s on the way for Educational Technology in 2015.

In 2014, we predicted technology would enable collaborative activity in the learning environment, that mobile device usage would increase as access to resources became easier and  that data gathering and social media management would be key considerations for the University. We think we can be fairly confident that our crystal ball of learning technology is in good working order. Our projects and general support activity over 2014 would attest to our predictions and have seen these themes cropping up in conversation and strategy over the year.

For 2015, we’re backing up our crystal ball gazing with some wider conversation and looking at what the New Media Consortium consider key trends within Ed. Tech. for Higher Education over the next few years. As with the Christmas Turkey/Vegetarian Option, we’ve taken our choice cuts and linked to a few places online, where the thinking and the talking is already happening.

Fast Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in Higher Ed for the next one to two years

The Evolution of Online Learning
Such a huge topic that we can’t really do it justice in one article. But increasing access to technology, huge investment into Ed Tech Startups and study into fields such as game mechanics in learning are changing the way in which we access learning material. In HE, conversation around the role and nature of the traditional, centralised Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) model has been bubbling away for a while (see this panel from ALT in 2009), but surfaced again this year in Audrey Watter’s talk, “Beyond the VLE” and Sheilla MacNeill who talks about first hand experience of living with the VLE dictator in HE. Higher Education presents all sorts of constraints in terms of management of data and interconnectivity between systems, so the VLE may be here to stay for a while longer, but maybe we start to think about it more as a starting point, curating learning material and signposting and guiding learners to and through it.

Rethinking Learning Spaces
Technological development is also enabling us to rethink the physical as well as the online learning environment. Browser based applications like Google Apps (and their offline work mode) and Adobe’s experimentation in this direction mean that learners aren’t tied to desktops in dingy locations or relying on sketchy wi-fi provision. Google talk of Democratizing IT administration, in that a lot of the enterprise wide management of IT could be devolved to the learning and teaching community. This might allow for changes in space usage through things like DIY lecture capture using campus Hangouts On Air/Youtube. In terms of physical space, in her post on this year’s Ed Media Conference Amy Sampson talks about creative learning space in Finnish education and the ET team will be connecting with Cornish villages in pubs, village halls through the University of The Village Project.

Mid-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in Higher Ed for the next three to five years

Increasing Focus on Open Educational Resources
Accessible and freely available resources to aid learning, teaching and research . OER puts the web to work in the way that it was intended, encouraging redistribution and redevelopment/remixing of content. Whilst adoption hasn’t hit the mainstream, OER is becoming central to policy and strategy within education, as the Open/OER movement in Scotland and Wales testifies. In England, Leicester City Council are promoting OER through a range of resources and guides for schools

Long-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in Higher Ed for five or more years

Agile Approaches to Change
Change is the only constant, as someone might have said. HE is in a continuous state of flux as it responds to funding changes and external pressures from other educational providers and non-traditional models of learning. Process and procedure is often dogged, outmoded and not easily adaptable to change, but agile methodologies adopted from software development allow for iterative project development that can respond to the VUCA world. Falmouth’s Student Course Information Page project facilitated an agile response to a Student Experience audit and added a layer to the VLE that pulls in relevant course data from the various business systems at the University, avoiding document duplication in the Learning Environment.

Solvable Challenges: Those which we both understand and know how to solve  

Adequately Defining and Supporting Digital Literacy
One of the key functions of the Ed.Tech team is to nurture and develop literacies in technology; the Why, When, Where of technology use in the learning environment. De Montfort University and Leicester City Council’s partnership in DigiLit Leicester presents an excellent framework and reference of for educators in understanding how we support these new literacies and Mozilla encourages an experiential approach in learning to Teach The Web.

These are just a few examples of Educational Technology developments that are responding to current and upcoming trends, but there is some fantastic work being done across the board in HE. 2015’s Horizon report will arrive in the early new year and previous editions are available online for a little light reading over the festive period.