The NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Ed Edition, produced by the New Media Consortium in partnership with the Educause Learning Initiative, examines what’s on the horizon for technology in postsecondary education. This year’s topics were chosen by a panel of nearly 80 experts from 22 countries engaging in a three-month virtual discussion.
One new topic for 2017 is finding technological solutions to advance digital access and equity for students from all backgrounds to enable them to succeed and complete their education. Artificial intelligence in the classroom and next-generation learning-management systems are tech developments that are also new to this edition of the report.
Already identified as a trend in previous reports, use of virtual reality, while still a developing technology, will continue grow in higher ed. “The most effective incarnations of this trend,” the report said, “incorporate emerging technologies that enable students to learn in ways they would not be able to on a strictly physical campus.”
Overall adoption of both existing and upcoming technologies, however, will require a level of digital literacy that is still lacking. As a preview for the report states, “Digital fluency is more than just understanding how to use technology.” In short, students need to develop not only technical proficiency but also cognitive skills in order to use technologies to absorb, evaluate, create, and communicate information.
One of the challenges cited in the report as “most wicked” will be rethinking educators’ roles amid a move toward more student-centered learning. That shift will require instructors to retool their approach to act more as “guides and facilitators.”
This year’s Horizon Report also looks back to track topics addressed in previous reports, listing blended learning as the most pervasive trend across the last six years.