Three Technological Trends That Set the Tone for Higher Education’s FutureCharles Dull | Associate Dean of the IT Center of Excellence, Cuyahoga Community College
Innovative advances in education technology are complex in nature and application. This transmutation occurs at an astonishingly fast pace, creating difficulty in distinguishing a trend from a disruption. Lately we’ve heard the roar of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs), the excellent outcome results from research on adaptive learning and the continuous hum of social learning, while we all wait for improved designs of the standard learning management system (LMS). The range of what works best with each technology depends on the company, use, environment and acceptance rate. Where is this leading?
1. Massive LMS Must Take a Front Seat
The greatest impact of MOOCs will be social learning adapting large enrollment LMS.
MOOCs disrupted the accepted pedagogical approaches to learning, instructional course design and faculty/student ratios — not to mention tuition. MOOCs have forced thinking in new ways about old ideas. But, as the disruption became more common, questions arose: what is the business model, how can this be supported and is this an effective methodology? Many innovations incubate outside of business models; however, business models are needed for innovation to grow. Somehow, MOOCs need a business model to advance beyond funding. Social media may resolve the business model problem by ads and other innocuous services such as games.
MOOCs were not the first disruption to traditional approaches or challenge to established pedagogy. MOOCs did postulate and prove education technology could manage large-scale enrollment and deliver instruction and assessment effectively. MOOCs merged this accessibility with earlier ideas of free tuition. University of the People has been around since 2009 offering free tuition. The Technological University of America began with free tuition and attempted an enhanced disruption with the ambitious goal of offering all programs on Facebook, using social media as the business model.
MOOCs have dispelled the myth that technology cannot be used to scale education. MOOCs have shown you can create well-designed courses serving large populations with technology to manage the load (server activity) and increased activity. The technology is here, the design methods are here and we have the new LMS. Now, we need the business model.
2. Social and Adaptive Learning Should be Blended
Social learning and adaptive learning are the future. We just need a way to harness all of our tools into a new framework.
Social learning is more than social media and less than academic learning. There are some really great social learning platforms available, such as Remix Learning, SuccessFactors, SABA and more. All provide learning at the point needed and allow for a host of other features, including assessment. The key question is whether you need a social learning platform and a LMS. Many schools run both. It seems disruptive, and there can be challenges managing varying modes, along with storage and capacity issues.
Adaptive learning technology, as a new pedagogy, suggests we think about learning theory converging with adaptive learning. This transformation will change how we build curricula and understand learning. Adaptive learning allows for a type of self-mapped learning experience while using assessment to measure and adjust direction. Adaptive learning is not a LMS nor does it provide engagement while simulating immersive learning.
3. Games Must Come Out of the Woodwork
Game-based curriculum design is the only methodology that creates immediate feedback, learning on demand and learning pathways based on competence.
If you want to find an innovative solution to difficult problems, just watch a group of little kids. Put a bunch of kids together, tell them to play and watch how they learn. They organize, sometimes by small groups, decide on some unwritten rules (which may evolve later on), they learn names and key places and they develop strategy and tactics and play. The outcome is they play and learn new skills, make new friends and develop social skills.
Game design curriculum concepts provide the only agile, fail-safe, socially engaging and adaptive environment into which we can morph the old LMS. The base and driving force is competence built by social interaction and achievement, not by memory but demonstrated ability. Imagine using a gesture-based game to build a holographic house to demonstrate mechanics or medical concepts. Award the ‘A’ grade for competency to achieve the outcome rather than to pass a test.
Current learning methods have structural challenges; much of what is being done is trying to make websites for mobile or adapting learning to fit in an old LMS. Students often do not feel engaged because they see the real world and fail to see its alignment with education. The trends tell us that if we do not change, we will cease to be effective.
The coming culmination of these trends: a Game-Based Learning Experience Environment — or my new acronym, GBLEE©. Now, who is up for the challenge?