2014 Higher Education Horizon Report: 6 Key Trends

The higher education Horizon attempts to identify and describe emerging trends in higher education within the next five years. It then to takes a look at the potential impact these technologies have on teaching and learning.  A expert panel is selected and a wiki is used for collaboration and open to make their findings transparent. You can find the wiki at horizon.wiki.nmc.org and the complete report at http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2014-nmc-horizon-report-he-EN.pdf

Not swayed by the shinny new thing, the principal measure for inclusion into the report is its pertinence to teaching and learning and creative inquiry in higher education. See the innovative pedagogical practices chart below.

chart illustrating 28 Innovative Pedagogical Practices
Innovative Pedagogical Practices

6 Key Trends

1. Growing ubiquity of Social Media

According to the report (quoting Business Insider), 40% of the world population regularly use social media and 70% of faculty and the general population use social media in their personal lives. Not only that but “today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to the cloud by the billions. Producing, commenting, and classifying these media have become just as important as the more passive tasks of searching, reading, watching, and listening.”(p. 8)

Plus, social media isn’t just for the young. The largest growth is in the 45+ age group! As an instructional designer, I find the combination of age and ubiquity exciting because most of the learners in post secondary education are working adults. The bottom line is that instructors can integrate social media into their courses without the implications of non technical users…cool beans.

2. Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning

“The tremendous interest in the academic and popular press in new forms of online learning over the past few years has also heightened use of discussion forums, embedded videos, and digital assessments in more traditional classes, with the intention of making better use of class time. An increasing number of universities are incorporating online environments into courses of all kinds, which is making the content more dynamic, flexible, and accessible to a larger number of students. These hybrid-learning settings are engaging students in creative learning activities that often demand more peer-to-peer collaboration than traditional courses.” (p. 10)

Yeah. Need I say more?

3.  Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment

I knew that adaptive learning software could be used to mine information so that learners comprehension is monitored and instruction is adapted to the learner’s need. I stink at math and Khan Academy leads me down the path to competence and I work my through the levels.

I never thought before about the collection of data from learning management systems to improve teaching and learning by tracking trends and student data to help students at risk and to personalize the learning experience. This data also helps academia as a whole as tracking trends may help predict why some some students drop out more than others.

4.  Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators

I am so happy that students are moving from consumers to creators. I remember in high school, so long ago, that the teacher’s idea of engaging students was to require them to produce a poster or perhaps book cover as part of a project. I can’t draw and felt it was simply busy work. How can drawing a book cover possibly help me remember the content?

Today, students as creators means students learn by making rather than as consuming content. Yeah. Hurray. It’s about time. The reason I write this blog is that it helps me learn the content. I have to process the information in this report and tell it in my own words. Yet, it is public; anyone can see it so I am extra careful about word choice (a struggle), spelling, and grammar. If I summarize and internalize the report I am no longer consuming the information, I’m creating something from it.

Besides, will we be writing papers in the business world, unless we are education or some areas of business commerce, not likely. But we may have to pitch our ideas to the boss and engage our audiences in a way that an essay can’t do. I realize that writing well is important, very important, but surely there are other ways of expressing ourselves so that every assignment isn’t to read text and then write a paper.

5.  Agile Approaches to Change

This long range trend involves institutions that are “increasingly experimenting with
progressive approaches to teaching and learning that mimic technology startups. …universities around the country are nurturing entrepreneurship within their
infrastructure and teaching practices….[There is] a growing emphasis on both formal and informal programs that build students’ interests in solving social and global problems, creating products.”  (p. 16) Now we are thinking. After students add up this massive amount of debt, they are going to need the skills not only to get a job but to create one!

6.  Evolution of Online Learning

As online learning garners increasing interest among learners, higher education institutions are developing more online courses to both replace and supplement existing courses. According to a study by the Babson Survey Research Group published at the beginning of 2013, more than 6.7 million students, or 32% of total higher education enrollment in the United States, took at least one online course in Fall 2011 — an increase of more than half a million students from the prior year. As such, the design of these online experiences has become paramount.

Okay now I’m really excited because as an instructional designer, much of my time is spent developing online courses. And not only is this finding job security for me, it is exciting that in order for this trend to grow, more institutions will equip faculty with the skills and tools to be quality online learning facilitators. What an exciting time for students. I think online courses have the potential to be even better than face-to-face classes because faculty and institutions are beginning to see the value in additional instructional design support.


I see an exciting future for learners everywhere. Higher educations is moving, abet ever so slowly, from a Socrates learning environment to an environment of movement and change.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC
Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New
Media Consortium.

Multidisciplinary Design

The world is changing and to survive we must change with it. No longer an industrial society, we have to embrace technology and innovation to compete. But what drives technology and innovation? What makes one product more successful than another? Perhaps design drives innovation.

Higher education matters because it drives innovation and economic transformation. Higher education helps to produce economic growth, which in turn contributes to national prosperity….Employing graduates creates innovation, enabling firms to identify and make more effective use of knowledge, ideas and technology.

However, in order for design to drive innovation, students need to be knowledgeable in other disciplines other than design. According to the report on Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK, innovation drives new skills and a supply of differently skilled people drives innovation. Therefore, we need people who can not only design but have had exposure to other disciplines other than their own and are comfortable working with teams in many disciplines.

Designers, in order to be competitive, need skills beyond design in order to be competitive.

  1. They need to be able to understand and articulate the client’s needs and markets.
  2. Designers need the communication skills to explain their work to employers.
  3. Designers often business owners  so they need entrepreneurial skills as well.
  4. Designers need to gain exposure to a variety of established businesses, writing design briefs and working in teams with authentic businesses.
  5. Designers that have a broader view of science and technology so they can work with the subject experts.
  6. Working with engineering students, materials scientists and computing specialists will help designers  know more about the design of environmentally sustainable products.

There are many ways for universities to integrate multidisciplinary design in their courses. They can use authentic client projects, mentors from businesses, bring in visiting lecturers, help students get internships in businesses other than design businesses. This exposure will raise the likelihood  their students will be employed and help drive the economy in innovation.

Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK. Report and recommendations from the Multi-Disciplinary Design Network, November 2010.

Quote:  Lord Browne of Madingley (2010). Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education. as quoted in Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK. Report and recommendations from the Multi-Disciplinary Design Network, November 2010.

Flipping Your Classroom

I first heard about the Flipped Classroom listening to a TED talk on the Khan Academy so when I found the book Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, I ordered a copy. The authors acknowledge that they were not the first to initiate a flipped classroom, nor do they propose that their flipped classroom is the flipped classroom. What they do is explain their experience with a flipped classroom and why they feel it is successful.

So what is a flipped classroom?

A Flipped classroom is a method of instruction where the student basically does what is normally done in the classroom at home. And at school the student does what s/he would have done at home. Although technology does not have to be a component of a flipped classroom, Bergmann and Sams recorded their lectures for the students to watch at home. Then, the next day, students work on the assignments that in a traditional classroom are assigned at home. This gives the instructor the classroom time to help the students with concepts they struggle with as well as discover holes in student learning.

Why would you want to flip your classroom?

Flipping your classroom will change the way you teach. You will no longer be the sage on the stage. Instead of repeating lectures year after year, you record a video (or use another means of getting your content to your students) once and spend the rest of your time with the students.This give you more time with your students. You get to know your students better.

Flipping helps your busy students, the ones that continually miss because they are in student activities. They will no longer miss your lecture when they miss your class. They can watch the lecture on their own time and then do their work independently, catching up with you when they ARE in class.

Flipping helps the struggling student. In the traditional classroom the brightest and best raise their hands and ask questions. Meanwhile the students who struggle are often “lost” and do not understand the material well enough to do their homework, or spend hours going over the problems in frustration. In a flipped classroom, you have the opportunity to find misunderstandings and give struggling students the attention they need to grasp the material.

“Flipping allows students to pause and rewind their teacher.” (p. 24) Some students are unable to take notes fast enough. Other students find the pace too slow. Flipping allows students to listen and take notes at their own pace.

Flipping is ideal for a Mastery Classroom

A mastery classroom, a popular trend that received a lot of attention the 70s, is a classroom model where students learn at their own pace. Once difficult for an instructor to keep track of and maintain, technology can be leveraged to help with the assessments and repetitious tasks. In a flipped mastery classroom, students are provided with all the materials necessary to complete an objective and the teacher is there to guide the individual students whenever they need assistance. Bergmann and Sams talk to every kid in every class every day. Teachers are not able to do that in a traditional classroom.

The advantages of Flipped Mastery Classroom is that all students can move at their own pace.  Content mastery helps students with time-management skills as well as puts them in charge of their own learning. It gives students timely (often instant) feedback and provides opportunities for remediation. And it ensures that all students are involved.

The Flipped Mastery Classroom and Universal Design

The most exciting aspect of the work Bergmann and Sams did in their flipped classroom is when they took their teaching to the level of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Basically, Universal Design, coined by the folks at Harvard, is classes designed around how individuals learn rather than designing a course one way that every learner has to follow.  UBL basically proposes that instructors provide students with “multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement.” The point is to meet the objectives, correct? So what difference does it make whether the student verbally meets requirement, or makes a podcast, videocast, or writes down the requirement in a blog? I wholeheartedly agree. I dislike watching videos. I would much rather read the material. And an answer written in my blog is my learning to keep! These teachers do not require every student to complete every problem! They do not care how a student meets the objective…just that they meet them! I would have loved to have had teachers like that when I was in school. A quote from the authors worth repeating…

“Allowing students choice in how to learn has empowered them. Students realize that their learning is their own responsibility. Teaching them this life lesson is more important than our science content.” (p.68)

The book has much more information than I have gone over here. I hope I have peaked your interest. It is an easy read. Pick it up and consider flipping your classroom.

I took a learning theory class last summer and my professor said there is no scientific evidence that people have different learning styles. However, we all have learning preferences. For instance, I would much rather read material than watch a video. (Yeah, I know, that’s weird.)

Creating a Significant Learning Experience

part 1

A written reflection on my learning as I read Creating Significant Learning Experiences by Dee Fink.

We have a problem in higher education. Although most, if not all, faculty members desire their students to achieve higher learning experiences, they (the faculty) teach in a form that does not promote higher learning. The problem is that students are not learning because they did not have a significant learning experience during the course and so easily forget the material.

What is a significant learning experience? According to Fink,

In a powerful learning experience, students will be engaged in their own learning, there will be a high energy level associated with it, and the whole process will have important outcomes or results. Not only will students be learning throughout the course, by the end of the course they will clearly have changed in some important way—they will have learned something important. And that learning will have the potential for changing their lives in an important way.

L. Dee Fink.(Kindle Locations 179-181)

Frank Smith in his book, The Book of Learning and Forgetting, argues, “We can only learn from activities that are interesting and comprehensible to us; in other words, activities that are satisfying. If this is not the case, only inefficient rote learning, or memorization, is available to us and forgetting is inevitable” (1998, p. 87).

According to Fink, significant learning includes enhancing the student’s life, the life of others and prepares the students for work.

Okay. So how do we do that? How do we change a person’s learning experience so that the student has changed in some way? How do we change from teaching something to providing a learning experience?

According to Fink, good courses:

• Challenge students to significant kinds of learning. • Use active forms of learning. • Have teachers who care-about the subject, their students, and about teaching and learning. • Have teachers who interact well with students. • Have a good system of feedback, assessment, and grading.

…if someone’s teaching successfully meets these criteria, its impact is going to be good, no matter what else is bad about it even if a teacher is not a great lecturer or well organized. Conversely, if someone’s teaching does not meet these five criteria, that teaching is poor, no matter what else is good about it. (Kindle Locations 460-464)

Fink has created a taxonomy of significant learning which includes six categories that interconnect.

  1. Foundational Knowledge, being able to understand and remember information and ideas.
  2. Application, putting the knowledge to use with skills, with creative, critical and practical thinking, and managing projects.
  3. Integration, or the connections between other things, other people other ideas.
  4. Human Dimension, or learning about self and others-the social implications of what they have learned.
  5. Caring, developing new feelings, interests, and values as a result of the learning
  6. Learning How to Learn, becoming a better student, inquiring about a subject, self-directing learners; enables students to continue learning and learn with greater effectiveness

By using the taxonomy above, learning goes beyond knowledge mastery which makes learning more worthwhile and interesting.

Redesigning a course has the potential to solve three major problems teachers frequently face. If students don’t read, then redesign the course to give students a reason to do the readings. If students are bored, the redesign the course away from lectures and include more active learning. If students don’t retain the information, then give the learners more experience using what they have learned.

Fink, D.L. (2003) Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Josse Bass Higher and Adult Education) Kindle Edition.

Smith, F. (1998) The Book of Learning and Forgetting. The Teachers College Press

A Course by Dee Fink

Creating Significant Learning Experiences

I found that I really enjoy course design. I have this book called Creating Significant Learning Experiences by Dee Fink that I used as a tool to help me design my course, twentyfirstcenturyclassroom.com. I found out today that I can take a course through Dee Fink’s company on Significant Learning, http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/index.php/onlinecourse/. I’m thinking of taking it. But I need a new course. Maybe I will create a course on web design. Anyway, I’m pretty psyched.

L. Dee Fink. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Josse Bass Higher and Adult Education)

Syllabus details

When I was taking courses at Kent, I struggled with professors who left out portions of the course because I like to know everything involved before I begin a course. One of my professors has all her content accessible a few days before the course begins and my personality really likes that. I have had other students note that a very detailed syllabus is overwhelming. So how does one accommodate someone like them and someone like me? Do I make the syllabus shorter as you suggest, leaving out some of the detail?…or is the compromise that the syllabus is shorter like you propose but yet the entire course is available for people like me who need the detail to plan their time?

This is probably less of an issue with undergraduate, younger students, but I am very specific about what I want to do with my degree and how I plan to use it. I’ve dropped three courses because the syllabi were so vague and the instructor was unattainable or otherwise couldn’t explain what we would actually be doing in class. I want to be sure it meets my needs. And if I’m not sure, I don’t take the class. I did make an exception. I wanted to take the Photoshop workshop but I didn’t want to retouch photos and that sort of thing; my interest is in the graphic design techniques and typographic effects that can be accomplished with Photoshop. The instructor refused to give out any details before the class began, not even a short syllabus like you suggest. I took the course anyway thinking in an instructional technology degree that the emphasis was hopefully on design rather than photography. I was wrong. The course is well thought out and professionally done (impressive actually). But 3/4s of the class are techniques used in photography and photo retouching. I have no interest or use for that. So I spent a thousand dollars on a course that is meant for photo hobbyists (workshops are 100% cost, day one.) I’m learning new things but I can do that on my own. A syllabus would have steered my toward a course more useful to my goals. So I am very sensitive to what is offered in a Syllabus. I don’t think there is a need to surprise students. If it is too much to read, then they don’t have to read it, right?

Discussions, The 21st Century Classroom Course

Is it necessary for an online course to have discussions? I realize that we learn from each other. I have a group assignment in which everyone has to work together; wouldn’t that be learning from each other?

So I’m thinking, is it necessary to have “discussions” like we do on the discussion boards, or is it also effective to discuss as part of the group project? I have read that students need to “know each other” before they work well together with collaboration projects. I’m doing a coffee shop, but maybe that is not enough. I feel  like I should add a discussion because “everyone else does.” But on the other hand, that is not a good reason, especially for quality instructional design, where we learn that only what will strengthen the “big idea” is what should be included.