The 10 Hottest Disruptive Technologies in #HigherEd

The annual EDUCAUSE conference is where innovative higher education CIOs go to learn about new industry trends and compare notes on the latest breakthroughs. This year was no exception as 7,300 IT leaders from more than 50 countries gathered in Orlando along with 260 educational technology exhibitors. Discussions took place in session rooms, on the exhibition floor, after the keynotes, and throughout the hallways. These are the common threads that permeated those discussions; the ten hottest topics for CIOs in higher education.

1. Campus Wi-Fi
Wireless capacity is a passionate topic for two reasons. It is now universally understood that the quality of the student computing experience has become an important decision factor for students in selecting a college. The challenge is to provide Wi-Fi density and coverage to adequately accommodate the three or more devices, many of them streaming, that each student is bringing on campus. This burgeoning demand for Wi-Fi on campus is severely taxing the IT infrastructure. Residence hall Wi-Fi can get congested quickly, so wired access is often used to provide bandwidth relief for devices like gaming consoles. Many schools have started to charge an extra fee to charge uber users who consume more than 20GB per week. When it comes to guest Wi-Fi access, schools run the gamut of open-connection, charging for use, sponsored guest access, or a combination of these. Here are 50 incredible WiFi market trends and statistics that are truly staggering.

The Campus Computing Project’s 2014 survey was revealed at the conference and reported that senior higher education IT officers identify “implementing/supporting mobile computing” as a top IT priority, yet only 17% rate mobile services at their institution as “excellent.” One informal poll at the conference showed that about 30% of schools are in the process of migrating to the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac.

Strategic CIOs in higher education are investing in WiFi infrastructure to improve the student, faculty and administration’s overall campus experience.

2. The Importance Of Being Social

EDUCAUSE CIO panel – Sound Off: To Be or Not to Be “Social”; with Michael Berman, California State University – Channel Islands; Raechelle Clemmons, St. Norbert College; Jack Seuss, University of Maryland, and Melody Childs University of Alabama Hunstville,

Social media is a game changer for higher education CIOs. Social media is taking on a growing role at EDUCAUSE and throughout higher education. Here is a list of the top 50 social higher education CIOs on Twitter. There was more live tweeting this year than ever before. The social media feeds enabled attendees and even those unable to attend to have a virtual presence, absorbing content from across the conference. The social media feeds were captured on Storify: #EDU14 Daily Wrap-up day 2 and#EDU14 Daily Wrap-up day 1.The session CIOs Sound Off: To Be or Not to Be “Social” provided a point-counterpoint discussion of the pros and cons of social media for university CIOs. The audience actively participated via Twitter (#EDU14socialcio, captured on Storify) and interactive poll questions, and provided crowd-sourced tips for more effective use of social media in higher education.

Educause in-session poll indicated the attendees are indeed active on social media

3. Digital Badges
Digital badges as validated indicators of specific competencies and their connection to competency-based education were heavily discussed at EDUCAUSE 2014. Just before the conference, EDUCAUSE published the 7 Things You Should Know About BadgingFor Professional Development. As another indicator of the growing significance of digital badges, 60% of the 1,900 people who participated in the Extreme Networksdigital badge survey believe that badges will either entirely replace diplomas and course certificates, or be used in combination with them. I recently published a presentation about the use of digital badges to improve employee engagement.


Sondra Smith of EDUCAUSE talks about the use of digital badges for professional development.

4. Business Analytics
The use of analytics as a means to drive critical institutional outcomes has grown rapidly as the associated technology has improved. This year there were no less than seven panels and 26 sessions dealing with learning analytics, data-driven decision making, and predictive analytics at the EDUCAUSE conference. The session, Analytics That Inform: The University Challenge, articulated the different contexts for analytics in education. Two analogies were made: one with business intelligence, now a $15B market, and one with physician diagnostic tools. There is general agreement on the need to present student analytics in the form of a dashboard, for use by both administration and students. Such a dashboard can help improve student outcomes as well as improve student retention.

In addition to student analytics, another type of campus analytics relates to network infrastructure. Presenters from Fontys Hogescholen described how they use network analytics to track student activities across the campus and are able to correlate demographic data with behavior and even effect change.

5. Google Glass and Wearables
The session, Prepare to Wear! Exploring Wearable Technologies in the Learning Environment, generated phenomenal enthusiasm and discussions that carried well past the conference. Many of the 14 Google Glass Innovative Uses In Educationthat I wrote about with Brian Rellinger earlier this year were in evidence. It is clear that all types of wearable computers including Google Glass, fitness bands, clothing, fashion wearables, and the forthcoming Meta holographic eyewear will have a dramatic impact on higher education.

6. Drones
Drones are finding growing usage in education. Colgate University’s poster session, Just Don’t Call It a Drone, showed how to use hobbyist quadcopters and Arduino technology in student research programs to capture photography and other environmental observations. The project had amazing results for both learners and researchers. I predict there will be more sessions on this topic next year, as drones find many new uses within higher education (see my blog, 10 Uses of Drones in Higher Education [Slideshare]).

7. 3D Printing
As listed in the description of one of sessions on the topic, “the era of 3D printing has arrived.” For those eager to enter this era, a number of sessions and exhibition demonstrations showed how to integrate 3D printing, and complementary 3D scanning, into the curriculum. Popularity of the printers is highest in art, design and engineering programs. Many schools are acquiring one high-end consumer-grade or low-end enterprise-grade 3D printer per department. Stay tuned as prices of consumer 3D printers are likely to be aggressively driven downward.

8. Digital Courseware
The two emerging aspects of digital courseware are Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Adaptive Learning. The concept behind Competency-Based Education (CBE) is to enable students to master skills and knowledge at their own pace, via multiple pathways that generally make better use of technology. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had a hand in elevating the topic this year with a $20M investment in next generation courseware related to adaptive learning and CBE. Last year, a similar grant gave a major boost to Integrated Planning and Advisory Services (IPAS).

CBE can help meet the needs of all students regardless of their learning abilities, and can lead to more efficient student outcomes. With CBE, students earn competency units rather than credit hours. So far, large community colleges have taken a leadership role in the field.

Adaptive learning, closely related to CBE, is an educational method that uses computers and electronic text books as interactive teaching devices. The presentation of educational material is dynamically adapted to students’ learning needs, as indicated by their responses to questions and tasks as they progress.

A number of young CBE and adaptive learning technology vendors demonstrated their wares during EDUCAUSE 2014, including Flat World Education, eLumen(demo), Regent Education (presentation), Pathbrite, Public Agenda, CCKF, andAcrobatiq. Many of these vendors emphasize a mobile-first approach. The feedback from Salt Lake Community College and the University System of Georgia highlighted the need for integration with existing products, comprehensive dashboards, and a mechanism for social interaction. Schools in general are watching to see what kind of results adaptive learning generates.

9. Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs)
This is the year that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) lost the limelight. The issue is the extremely low completion rates of students who sign up for MOOCs. A Gartner poster of the education hype cycle that was on display at EDUCAUSE marked MOOC as “obsolete before plateau”. The Campus Survey 2014 noted that less than two-fifths of the survey respondents now agree that MOOCs offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction, down from 53% in the fall of 2013.

Clayton Christensen did not mention “MOOC” even once during his opening keynote, though the best known MOOCs, EDx and Coursera, had often been considered as disruptive to higher education. It is now realized that MOOCs lack most of the markers for disruptive innovation; they do not target non-consumers and they lack a viable business model. On the other hand, the Christensen Institute does believe that competency-based education may prove to be disruptive.

Picking up where MOOCs left off is the concept of Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). These were discussed at the one MOOC conference session. This session also discussed the future of MOOCs – for advanced placement courses, remedial classes, professional development, and to serve the community. More importantly, the technology infrastructure created by the MOOC providers like EDx, Kahn Academy and Coursera will very likely provide the platform for the full range of online courses into the future.

10. Virtual Reality
Immersive and augmented reality have the ability to completely re-invent education. When ready for general use, products like Oculus Rift and Magic Leap are capable of transporting the student to almost any learning environment imaginable. As with many emerging educational technologies, virtual reality has application both to higher education and K-12 education. At the ISTE K-12 conference earlier this year, there were no less than 14 sessions discussing how to apply VR in education. The technology enables students to travel with their professors to any virtual learning environment imaginable: far-off lands and planets, inside the atom, ancient civilizations, to the beginning of the universe. On a limited scale, some of these capabilities are already here. At the rate the technology is progressing, VR could be fully integrated into our teaching within five years.

The Disruption of Higher Education
The Disruption of Higher Education was perhaps the hottest topic before, during, and after EDUCAUSE. It was the subject of Clayton Christensen’s keynote. Higher education is undeniably at a transition point. With student debt now over $1 trillion and economists like Robert Reich questioning the value of college, industry leaders are searching for a path to maintain higher education’s relevancy. In his talk, Christensen asked the audience to “pray for Harvard”, given the upheavals already underway in higher education.

Markers of disruption are already appearing in higher education, including new entrants and start-ups selling low feature-set products to previous non-consumers. Examples of this include not just online colleges, but more importantly corporate in-house academies like Perdue University (think chickens not boilermakers), General Assembly, GE Crotonville, and Intel University. A technological core is forming with video courseware, competency-based education and learning analytics, as well as new interactive collaborative capabilities that provide something approaching a classroom experience remotely. Modularity, another important marker of disruption, has emerged in the packaging of courses and the awarding of certificates of completion and digital badges. These aspects represent an overall trend toward the unbundling of higher education.

A college president had pointed out to Christensen that the most generous alumni at his university felt their lives had been dramatically changed by their college experiences. The lasting impact was due not to the course material, but rather to the motivating performance of a memorable professor; a different professor in each case. In response Christensen asks, are colleges taking this into account as they recruit faculty, or is recruiting based more on academic publishing history?

This post was co-authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme Networks.

Wearables (#IoT) in #HigherEd

AcZqjUKXYB_sThe use of Google Glass and other wearable devices in higher education is still experimental, but the technology is opening up exciting new possibilities for teaching and learning.

Ray Kurzweil, American author, scientist, inventor, futurist — and now director of engineering at Google — said, famously: “Mobile phones are misnamed. They should be called gateways to human knowledge.”

It turns out that gateway is widening, especially on campus, where wearable technology is becoming the latest portal into human knowledge — and the future. “Wearables are just a continuation of the smartphone industry,” remarked Emory Craig, director of e-learning and instructional technology at The College of New Rochelle in New York, “but they change everything.”

Campus technology asked Craig and his colleague Maya Georgieva, associate director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at New York University’s Stern School of Business — both visionaries in the field of wearable technologies in higher education — about the future of wearables in teaching and learning.

Why is wearable tech such a compelling tool for today’s students and faculty?

Craig: Since the beginning of the mobile revolution, we’ve seen rapid growth in social media and the ability to stay in almost constant communication with each other. I think we naturally gravitate toward technology that becomes more personal and fosters communication. Wearable devices give us new insights on how our minds and bodies function that are impossible to see with our current senses. The possibilities associated with that perspective are very hard to resist!

What will be the impact of wearable devices on higher education in general?

Craig: It’s so early in the game right now for wearables that we can only speculate about the potential impact on higher education. Technological developments always have intended and unintended consequences, and it’s the latter that interests me the most. How wearables develop will largely depend on the ecosystem around them (the apps created by independent developers).

If you look at the first smartphones, they were incredibly immature compared to what we have today. Now, with over a million apps available, we can do things we never anticipated — photo and movie editing, streaming music, gaming. Smartphones are even becoming devices for virtual reality experiences (with the Samsung Gear VR and the Galaxy Note 4 phone).

I think we’ll see learning become much more personal with new forms of feedback (both from faculty and from our own minds and bodies); a revolution in the rapidly emerging field of learning analytics; and new virtual experiences which could revolutionise the way we teach medicine, history, the sciences, etc.

What are the most popular wearable tech devices on campuses today?

Georgieva: Colleges are starting to open experiments with wearable technologies such as Google Glass, the Narrative Clip and Oculus Rift. There are experiments going on in various undergraduate programs, medical schools, journalism, business schools — and more pilots will start later this year and next spring.

Everyone is tentatively venturing into a new landscape here. Most projects focus on the ability of Google Glass to capture first-person perspective and hands-free video, such as recording with Glass within and outside of the classroom. The same goes for the Narrative Clip, which works great for capturing images during field trips or lab experiments.

I think that the most common applications will be students or faculty capturing video and, for the brave, some applications that can work for online teaching, video conferencing and one-on-one sessions, such as connecting with experts and mentors to provide coaching and feedback. In addition, we are starting to see some interesting applications for students with disabilities, in which Google Glass or other wearables can provide visual, auditory and physical assistance.

Whether it is Glass, the Narrative Clip, the Oculus Rift or another device that will be released in the next few months, the most exciting ideas will come from our students. I think that the best applications are yet to be developed on college campuses by students tinkering with what is available, building new apps, testing it with new games.

What are some of the obstacles to wearable tech?

Craig: Right now, the major obstacle is battery life, especially for Glass-type devices that you wear on your face. Batteries are, relatively speaking, large and heavy for wearables. This will change, but battery life is not growing nearly as rapidly as processor speed and storage capacity.

The other challenge is user interface (UI). Obviously, voice control (which is getting there, but is not perfect) and touchpad-like areas (as on Google Glass) are probably the future of UI. But the other approach is to do what the Narrative Clip Lifelogging Camera has done: Narrative Clip has no on/off switch and it functions continuously unless you put it face down on a surface. A significant portion of the market will probably move in that direction — devices that will just always be on.

How should higher ed institutions integrate wearable tech devices into the educational system?

Georgieva: My recommendation to the higher ed community is to not try to force wearables into our learning frameworks, but rather to create a space for students to play with wearable tech. I think we are on the cusp of exciting new developments with wearables that will provide fertile ground for personalised, connected and immersive learning. Things are about to get a lot more interesting — and fun — in 2015!

Craig: Be proactive. Experiment and try things out. Stay abreast of the developments in the wearable market, and don’t assume that this is just a minor refinement of the mobile revolution. Wearables will start out largely as products in the consumer market and in higher education.

We’ve often treated technology as a “productivity tool.” But just as we’ve seen with smartphones, we shouldn’t underestimate the many ways that portable devices can transform how we communicate, learn and work together. Wearables have the potential to have a huge impact on the teaching-learning environment. The best way for IT departments and faculty to be ahead of the curve is to start the conversation now, embrace change and always be open to innovation.

What challenges are in store for IT departments?

Craig: Many of us are still working through the challenges of the mobile revolution, setting up mobile device management servers to cope with many devices that students, faculty and staff use.

The average traditional-age college student is already showing up on campus with about seven technology devices. I’ve seen predictions where we may have up to 10 wearable devices on our bodies and clothes. If that turns out to be true, don’t be surprised to see the average student show up with 15 or so devices in a few years. Whatever the number will be, we’ll look back and laugh at the simplicity of our current era with “only” seven devices per student.

It will get more complex, but we have to see if wearables move toward the use of our wireless networks or depend on cellular services. IT departments should be purchasing devices as they come out so that they can plan for network connectivity challenges.

Most colleges and universities have a mobile strategy. How do we create a wearable tech strategy?

Georgieva: Higher ed institutions will need to think about their wearable strategy, but it has to extend beyond the obvious questions around privacy, content, network security. The more interesting areas will be to consider the potential applications and Web services that we offer on campus. Students will want to connect to, access, sync and use in new ways with their wearable devices. I don’t think we can “shoehorn” our current content into wearables. Wearables are a new cycle of technology that bring their own potential to be explored, and we need to focus on how it will shape the student experience.

We do not need to translate every single application into being accessible via wearable tech. Nobody will have the patience to browse through university Web sites on Google Glass or any of the other Glass- or watch-type devices. Think about having students walk with wearables through our buildings, using devices that are already charged with personal data and connect to an array of sensors. This opens completely new channels of communication.

It is no longer about one “killer app” but about all apps playing together to make the “ultimate student learning experience.”Today there is a lot written about BYOD, but soon we may refer to it as BYOE (bring your own everything) or, in the not-too-distant future (if I can coin a new acronym), BYOEB: bring your own enhanced body.

We will start with students on the digital edge, providing the opportunity to interact with information in limited ways — record and share a picture or video from Google Glass or a moment of the Narrative Clip stream; connect to social apps; participate in online sessions; or [experience] a simulation via Glass or a virtual reality device like the Oculus Rift. It will not be just making sure the content can flow through these devices, but focusing on creating interactions and fostering innovative student-learning experiences.

As [philosopher and media theorist] Marshall McLuhan said, “Each new technology is a reprogramming of our sensory life.” With wearables, we are about to open a new chapter on how we will learn and express ourselves in the future.

Published October 29, 2014 by Wearable Technologies

Project [Google] Glass for #HigherEd

Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements.

One of the most popular incarnations of the technology was the calculator watch, which was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, the field has advanced significantly, but the overarching theme behind the technology remains the same – convenience. These tools are portable, lightweight, and often take the place of an accessory the user already wears, such as a t-shirt, glasses, or wrist-watch, making them easy to take anywhere.

Google’s “Project Glass” features one of the most talked about current examples –  the device resembles a pair of glasses, but with a single lens. A user can see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project.

Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn-in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person’s exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

Currently, the number of new wearable devices in the consumer sector seems to be increasing daily, greatly outpacing the implementation of this technology at universities. The education sector is just beginning to experiment with, develop, and implement wearable technologies, though the potential applications are significant and vast. Smart jewelry or other accessories could alert students working in chemical laboratories to hazardous conditions, while wearable cameras can instantly capture hundreds of photographs or data about a user’s surroundings on an off site geology dig that can be later accessed via email or other online application.

One of the most compelling potential outcomes of wearable technology in higher education is productivity. Wearable technologies that could automatically send information via text, email, and social networks on behalf of the user, based on voice commands, gestures, or other indicators, would help students and educators communicate with each other, keep track of updates, and better organize notifications. Thinkgeek’s InPulse Smart Notification watch is relatively affordable at $150 and works with Android devices to enable users to view and organize emails, texts, phone calls, and other notifications.

A new brain-sensing headband called Muse displays a user’s brain activity directly on their smartphone or tablet. The ultimate goal for development is that users will be able to control televisions and other electronic devices merely by thinking about them.

Some current research and development efforts at the university level are related to sensory improvement, such as gloves that enhance responsive feeling when performing surgery or interacting with scientific equipment. The MIT Media Lab is taking this notion a step further by allowing users to turn any surface into an interface with SixthSense, a tool consisting of a pocket projector, a mirror, and a camera. The hardware components inside this pendant-like wearable device project information onto any surface, while the camera recognizes and tracks a user’s hand gestures.

Another significant area of interest for education is wearable flexible displays. Samsung, LG, Sony, and a number of other technology companies have already created light-emitting diode (LED) displays that can wrap around furniture and other curved surfaces, and Erogear has developed a display that can be integrated into different types of clothing. Advancements in this area could eventually make smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices obsolete.

Professor Thad Starner at Georgia Tech University founded the Contextual Computing Group to develop applications and interfaces that can be worn. Projects include a mobile sign language translator, a wearable pendant that recognizes and translates one’s hand gestures into actions, and an application designed to make a tablet pressure-sensitive so it monitors tremor in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Although wearable technology is not yet pervasive in higher education, it will increase in impact as enabling technologies gain traction in the consumer market.


An Infographic by   …  Post written by Andrianes Pinantoan

Andrianes Pinantoan is InformED’s editor and part of the marketing team behind Open Colleges. When not working, he can be found reading about two of his favourite subjects: education and psychology. Cited From:

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