There are almost no industries that remain untouched by technology. Whole sectors are transforming daily, and one of those is the education sector. There have been many discussions about the changes wrought by technology when it comes to the classroom – specifically about schools teaching children ages 3-18. The changes seem more obvious in this evolved environment of classic chalkboards and textbooks; classrooms around the world are now more interactive and technology-driven than ever. But the world of Higher Education has been altering just as much. Each technological change brought to Higher Education brings with it a ripple effect of culture changes that will have a lasting effect on how we teach our young adults. Here are some of the ways in which Higher Education has been evolving.
New Learning Environments
Many physical elements of universities are changing to adapt to the ever evolving technological climate. In extreme cases, entire classes can be conducted over the internet, eradicating the need for actual rooms. More common changes include installations of screens and interactive boards that enable easier collaboration and project work. University portals are becoming more sophisticated, to the point that most learning material can be delivered online, eliminating the need for real life resources like lecture notes. Computer areas are growing, transforming libraries and other university buildings as rooms are converted to suites.
New teaching methods have developed as the need to connect to digitally native students while delivering quality lessons has become a priority. Blended learning has been incorporated into universities for some time, but now universities are taking it to the next level. The idea of blending used to be simpler; teachers would integrate videos into their presentations or allow students to use computers in class. Now students can attend lectures online, opting for webinars and video conferences and making the most of connectivity to stay in constant contact with tutors.
Universities are joining forces now more than ever. Their reasons are varied, from wanting to create innovative new programmes to needing to double up on resources to achieve research goals. These alliances are often concerning technology, research or shared values. Whatever their reasons, it is cutting-edge technology that enables these unions. Connectivity and communication are vital to effective collaboration, so many of the universities wanting to go this route are overhauling their old IT infrastructures and investing in the latest in communication technology.
These are a few of the physical and cultural changes that are becoming common in Higher Education institutions. Some of the changes are more obvious to the naked eye – for instance the way lecture theatres and libraries are renovating to accommodate new technology. Other areas of change, such as new teaching techniques and collaboration projects, aren’t as obvious to those who aren’t experiencing them, but nonetheless those changes are happening. Universities need to keep up the pace of evolving technology so that they can stay current and effective as educators and innovators.