In our final day, we give you a snapshot of the current state of play for technology in higher education in Australia and around the world, as well as exciting and challenging things on the horizon.
Activity 1: A technology-enabled future?
Have a look at this article which explores trends in higher education and technology.
What is your initial response to reading this overview? How do you think the developments described will affect, or are affecting, your teaching (or, if you are in a support role, how will it affect how you support academics)?
Why are universities embracing technology for learning?
There are many significant factors and trends impacting the use of technology globally in higher education. Information about these trends globally can be found in a report from the OECD, and another from EADTU-EU 2017 Summit Conclusions
In Australia, these trends are reflected in a volume of articles published in 2017, “Visions for Australian Tertiary Education“, where the University of Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education set out to “offer provocative ideas for transforming Australian tertiary education,” grounding their articles in current issues and trends (French, Kelly and James, 2017, V).
This report observes that Australian higher education is highly internationalised, and is one of Australia’s major exports, with the advantage of proximity to growing Asian markets (French, Kelly and James, 2017, 2-6). The challenges facing Australian higher education nearly all imply the continuing adoption of technology, and include such things as the needs of international students, pressures on funding, global competition, employment outcomes and more.
Some of the drivers for change in education identified by Ernst and Young in 2012 are still evident today:
(Ernst & Young, 2012, cited by Sharrock, in French, Kelly and James 2017, 28)
“Provocative ideas” from the CSHE collection relevant to technology-enhanced learning include:
- “50 shades of blended learning will be the new normal.” (Sharrock, 2017, p. 38)
- The “unbundling” of the design, delivery, assessment and credentialing pathways, microcredentialing, and MOOCs
- Sophisticated combination of digital tools to enable authentic and secure assessment processes, enabling recognition of professional skill and knowledge, including soft skills and metacognitive skills. (Milligan & Kennedy, 2017, p. 49)
- The concept of teaching as a design activity (Elliot & Lodge, 2017, p. 57) sees teachers as engaging in designing experiences for learners to maximise learning and engagement, ensuring that technology is seen as part of the elements of a design problem to be solved, rather than a separate entity.
Australian universities are still heavily campus-based, but….
Although the above report found that Australian campuses are largely still “campus-based”, rather than a big online presence (Sharrock, 2017, p. 30), there are many universities in Australia, particularly regional universities, which have embraced and continue to expand fully online learning. This trend to put courses online is sure to continue in a globalised, competitive higher education context.
Here are some websites that have outlined these and other trends to be watching in 2018:
Activity 2: How does this impact on you?
Are these trends evident to you in the work you are doing in teaching or supporting teaching and learning? Are you noticing things changing due to globalisation and internationalisation of higher education?
Some of the exciting developments in technology for blended and online learning
As TEL becomes increasingly prevalent, here are a few of the exciting areas to watch out for in the near future.
Immersive learning using virtual reality technology
Many discipline areas are seeing virtual reality (VR) as providing solutions to training students in areas like medicine. For more about virtual learning, go to our previous coffee course that covered this topic in detail. In a new development, virtual technology seems to be merging with gaming for education (gamification) to create effective virtual experiences for students, in a form that is now known as serious gaming.
Here are some intriguing examples happening right here, right now in Australia:
- Monash University – Pharmatopia
- Queensland University of Technology – Markstrat (also see a thesis paper on this from QUT Business School discussing the theoretical side of this type of experiential learning)
- Virtual Songlines – Cultural Survival Game
- Visitor Vision – Inside Manus and Valley General Hospital
Art and technology are becoming merged in a development that has potential to create profound learning experiences. Read this exciting page from YaleNews, about how they are exploring this – A Maker Space Where Art and Technology Merge.
Augmented reality is the use of mobile apps in the real environment, to facilitate learning and develop skills. Australian National University, University of Canberra and Macquarie University produced a report on a project they completed examining and experimenting the AR.
- Here are some examples provided by NBN Company’s blog
- Monash University has created an app for geology students – Monash Rocks and is involved in creating other AR experiences for students.
- Here is a website with a useful list of apps to create AR experiences in education: 32 apps on TeachThought
There are many other exciting uses of technology in higher education, such as:
- Learning analytics and the rise of “big data” (which raises many ethical issues)
- The Internet of Things – internet enabled devices and connectedness
….but is it sustainable?
Looking outside these reports and examples, at the coalface, university administrators, academics and educational developers/designers also need to be cognizant of issues of sustainable practice and the provision of support. Any new technology that is introduced must be sustainable into the future, for the institution. This implies the support needs of users and also the costs.
Activity 3: What is your TEL future?
How do you respond to these kinds of reports and examples of new uses of technology in higher education? Is there anything you would like to explore to create engaging learning experiences for your students? Is this kind of technological development feasible and sustainable in your context? What would be the barriers to you realising your ideas?
What did you think of this course?
We’d love your feedback on how you found the material and facilitation in this course. You can give us anonymous feedback in a short survey and let us know what you thought and what other topics you are interested in. Click here to access the survey.
Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017) The Horizon Report 2017.
Greenfield, A., 2017, “Rise of the Machines: who is “the internet of things” good for?” in The Guardian 6/6/2017
Munnerly, D., Bacon, M., Fitzgerald, R., Wilson, A., Hedberg, J., Steele, J. (2014), Augmented Reality: Application in Higher Education, Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching, Sydney.
Mulcahey, R., 2015, A Game of Balance and Disguise: Examining Experiential Value and Game Attributes in Social Marketing M-Games, School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University of Technology.
OECD, 2016, An OECD Horizon Scan of Megatrends and Technology Trends in the Context of Future Research Policy Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, Copenhagen