Curating Tech Developments in Online Learning

[While this Campus Technology article focuses on online learning for higher education, it’s worth examining for anyone looking for ways to use technology to transform learning. The success stories provide strong evidence how technology can make learning happen in ways not possible otherwise. The projects range from an avatar for nursing students to bring the Great Barrier Reef to students through teleconferencing.]

By David Raths 08/10/16

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

New ways to deploy artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, gamification and robotic telepresence are making their way into classrooms across the globe every day. Two leaders in the field of online learning are building a website called Virtually Inspired to curate examples of what they consider the most promising efforts.

Susan Aldridge, senior vice president for online learning at Drexel University and president of Drexel University Online, and Marci Powell, chair emerita of the U.S. Distance Learning Association, looked at more than 250 projects deploying new technologies in online learning and initially narrowed that number down to approximately 50 they plan to highlight on their website, which is still a work in progress.

Aldridge and Powell want the site to provide one-stop shopping for faculty and administrators looking for innovative approaches to online learning. Increasingly, Aldridge said, students will not sit still for talks in large lecture halls, and still too much of online education involves a talking-head video rather than an engaging experience. As she went looking for new approaches that might be applied to Drexel’s curriculum, she and Powell decided to share those findings with colleagues in higher education, who could pick and choose what might be beneficial for them.

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The Internet of Things Is Here

[For several years there’s been growing talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). In this Educause article Florence Hudson looks at the trend and the possible risks as well as benefits. While K-12 has not jumped on the IoT bandwagon, it’s still important to think about the trend, especially in light of the growing number of issues around privacy and security.]


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic that engenders excitement, skepticism, and anxiety. Supporting these feelings are expectations regarding the potential value that the IoT can create today and into the future, the “hype-cycle” considerations, and the risks regarding security and privacy. Yet the fact is, the Internet of Things is here. Now. Higher education thus has an opportunity to support the development and deployment of the technical and business model innovations for an IoT-enabled economy, to build the leaders of the IoT-enabled economy today and into the future, and to address the TIPPSS risks related to the IoT: Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, and Security.

The current reality of the IoT is already staggering, not even considering the expectations and hype about the future: billions of physical devices, across the world, that have digital sensors and are interconnected by leveraging the Internet or other network technology. An estimated 13.4 billion devices were connected in 2015, representing more than twice the human population on the planet at the time, and this number is projected to nearly triple, to 38.5 billion devices, by 2020.1

Connecting the physical to the digital world can encompass a wide range of objects: vehicles, appliances, lighting, health and wellness devices, manufacturing systems, buildings, bridges, water pipes, food containers, electric meters, security systems, cameras, wearable devices, drones, and many more. These objects are connected through a digital sensor that collects and transmits data to other devices or to a centralized management system. The public Internet or private networks connecting these devices provide the communications between these devices—or “things.”

A report recently published by Internet2 highlights the IoT at the top of the “Key Information and Communications Technology Trends for the Research and Education Community” through 2025.2 According to some estimates, the IoT could create $11.1 trillion in global economic value by 2025, representing 11 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).3 This economic value reflects both the upside revenue potential for IoT-related devices, applications, and services and also the efficiencies and cost reductions generated through the IoT. This multi-trillion-dollar opportunity not only attracts investments but also requires innovation in technology and business models to be enabled. The risk factors of the IoT require additional research and development.

The higher education community can lead the development of the technologies, business models, ethics, and leaders of the IoT-enabled world. For example, professors of engineering and computer science are directing IoT labs for the improvement of IoT technologies, including security design. They can work with business schools to design curricula and form IoT clubs to create new business models. Law schools can teach IoT ethics, privacy, and policy. Medical schools can enable the “Internet of Medical Things.” Informatics programs can teach how to leverage the volumes of IoT data, with TIPPSS. Through such efforts, the higher education community can work across disciplines to develop the technologies, business models, and leaders for the IoT-enabled economy of the future.

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6 influential technologies on the higher ed horizon

[In this eCampus News article you’ll discover the latest trends for higher education based on the 2016 Horizon Report. I work in both K-12 and higher education. The short-term trends are very similar – using technology to assess learning and moving towards greater use of blended learning. The other trends are similar.]

Annual Horizon Report details short-and long-term technologies, trends that will impact higher education in the next 5 years.

horizon-report-2016The rise of robots is no longer science fiction; and any institution interested in remaining relevant in the next five years should start advancing “cultures of innovation.” These are just two of the revelations part of the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s (ELI) 2016 Higher Education Edition of the annual Horizon Report.

The report, which decides which trends and technologies will have a dramatic influence on higher ed in the next 5 years thanks to a panel of 58 education and technology experts from 16 countries on 5 continents, aims to help inform the choices that institutions are making about technology to improve, support, or extend teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher ed across the world.

With more than 14 years of research and publications, NMC says that the report can be regarded as “the world’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake in education.”

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