More trends in higher education

 A number of articles addressed the changes affecting how higher education is managed, and how it affects teaching and learning.

1)      New Media Consortium  (2008 ) studied the responses from 289 executives in HE and the corporate world to ask how they thought technology will shape learning. The report states, “Technological innovation, a long hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way the universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great” (p. 4).


Two-thirds of respondents currently offer online courses, increasing access to an eager audience. More than 60% of survey respondents’ stated professors will soon teach with more than one medium, thus multi-modal teaching. And online collaborative tools will have the greatest impact on learning and improving educational quality as well as modes of delivery that support individually paced learning. Also the greatest benefit from technology is access to educational and reference resources.


Two-thirds of respondents stated the traditional degrees carry more credibility than online one. Whereas, 40% felt their current graduates were prepared to compete in a global marketplace, with many questioning the communication, technological and critical thinking skills of students. A number of references were made to the skill sets and need for more of millennial students.


More important, “According to the survey results, online-collaboration tools, software that supports individually paced learning, and learning-management systems are among the communications technologies most expected to improve academics over the next five years. Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, instant messaging and social networking—which have been influential in improving connectivity in many settings and are in use now at a large number of institutions—are expected to decline in use over that period … Faculty members, administrators and CIOs are also exploring how web applications and freeware such as Google docs can improve efficiency and reduce costs.” (p.6).


Here are a few of their key points:


  • technology remains to be disruptive and continue to have a significant impact on HE
    • emerging social software and networking technologies and concepts
    • e-marketing campaigns
    • automated, self-service
    • online textbooks and printed books through publishing world
  • online learning is gaining a foothold in universities
    • through this advanced education can reach more people
    • creating new markets for content
    • expanding revenue sources for academic institutions
    • outcomes-based and student-centred learning is increasing
  • with technology, there are operational challenges such as
    • faculty tenure and promotions will need to include technology-based teaching criteria
    • encouraging faculty to adopt new technologies
      • entrenched organization cultures will be hurdle
    • issues of student plagiarism
    • access through mobile technologies
    • rising IT costs

“Today’s students are used to getting what they need instantly. Universities have to respond to remain competitive, but those innovations often cost millions of dollars. How to fund those investments appropriately is on the top of everyone’s mind. As more and more universities look to the private sector to support and extend technological advances, companies can be selective in choosing partners” (p.12)

    • technological obsolescence
    • adequate instructional design staff
    • adequate technological support
  •  HE is responding to globalization with oversea presence


2)      In the book, The Tower and The Cloud, Diane Oblinger explains the tower is academia and the cloud is the emerging technology cloud.   With rising demands for accountability she wonders how technology can meet shifting demands. One solution offered in the edited book is to “take a fresh look at institutional governance of IT and encourage realignment of those structures with the reality of a networked world (and institution)” (p.ix). She also mentions leveraging the collaboration and distribution possible in digital networks for scholarly communities, and the capacity to store and share larges amount of knowledge. She ends with “how must IT leadership change to guide institutions through new realities while safeguarding the community’s varied (and sometimes conflicting) interests?


In the preface, Richard Katz offers the historical and institutional context of IT in higher education and suggests the existing structures will dictate how technology is used. However, he also believes IT will cut its own channels but institutions are still slow to embrace IT in both administration and teaching activities. Some emerging trends affecting He are:

·        The increase of open universities, and for-profit postsecondary institutions.  

·        Learners are supplementing traditional resources with those they find on the web.

·        People are being empowered by the “interconnection to billions of people, [and] the emergence of English as the global language of commerce”(p. xiii).

·        Higher can liberate itself from the cost of physical space by providing online learning


He also speculates that “university IT leaders throughout the world who need to make some sense of a chaotic and fast-changing environment long enough to guide institutional investments and to operate needed services for students, faculty, staff, and others” (p.xii). He suggest to think in terms of visions and not a single vision.


3)      David Turpin (2005), in his article Redefining Post-Secondary Education published by Education Canada, draws on the Bob Rae’s review of post-secondary education in Ontario. Turpin contends the Rae’s recommendations have the potential to improve the quality of higher education. These are:

·        Finding ways to increase participation and success in HE rather than responding to student demand but generating demand, and with under-represented groups

·        Improving quality of HE

·        Finding ways to pay for HE to ensure opportunities and excellence

o   There is need for more funding and must come from several sources (federal and provincial government operating grants and tuition)

o   Tuition should be predictable, transparent and affordable

o   Provide financial support for those who need it (low income, disadvantaged students, income sensitive loan repayment plan

·        Institutions relying on evidence-based decisions need to spend more time research higher education and its issues.



Lowy (2005), responds in his report on Implement the Rae Report, that under-funding can adversely affect education. The consequences are increased class sized, less student-teacher time, lagging library collections, insufficient equipment and the inability to compete. Yet, good teachers will be attracted by “competitive salaries and research facilities, adequacy of teaching and research assistants, ability to attract good graduate and post-doctoral students, and a healthy teaching-research ration” (p.24).

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