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Top Trends in Higher Education for 2015

2015 saw many advancements in the ever evolving higher education sector. As the digital age progressed, higher education institutions (HEI) continued to rethink and reinvent learning and teaching. New learning models were implemented to support richer student-instructor interaction, and technology took education beyond the limits of the formal curricula. In an increasingly competitive market, HEIs strived to stay relevant by steering away from traditional formulas and adopting more flexible and accessible ways of learning. As a new year begins, we look back at some of the key trends that continued to transform higher education this past year and predict how they will evolve in 2016.

Personalized Learning in the Classroom

There was a rising focus on personalized learning even as institutions contended with budget cuts and growing class sizes. Unsatisfied with the traditional one-size-fits-all approach, 2015 saw more HEIs implementing personalized learning environments as part of their strategic plan. Educational technology such as social feedback platforms gave instructors access to information about how their students interact with the course material. As a results, educators became big data experts and were better equipped to make real-time adjustments to meet their students’ individual learning styles.

Predictions for 2016: Personalized learning will be executed across district school systems rather than at individual institutions.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Since the debut of MIT’s OpenCourseWare in 2002, institutions the world over have been moving to share their digital learning resources online. Yale, Stanford, University of Cambridge, and UCLA were some of the biggest names who have launched Open Educational Resources initiatives. 2015 saw many non-educational institutions getting involved in the OER movement. The World Bank Group in partnership with Coursera launched a certified Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) in November. OpenClassrooms and IESA Multimedia introduced a MOOC-based Bachelor degree in multimedia project management, now recognized by the French state.

Predictions for 2016: More institutions will start granting degrees or certificates for OER courses.

Blended Learning Environments

Gone are the days when rows of chairs and writing desks made up the classroom. In 2015, many institutions were redesigning their learning environments to accommodate shifting models of education. Classrooms became more dynamic as instructors moved towards blended curriculum. Technology allowed instructors to transform the classroom, using a combination of face-to-face interaction and leveraging high-quality digital content to increase engagement. As part of their strategic plan, the University of Western Sydney made a commitment that by “2016 all undergraduate units will be offered in blended form with a mix of face-to-face and online learning activities.”

Predictions for 2016: Blended learning will become a critical part of the learning environment helping institutional leaders redefine school culture.

What are your predictions for higher education in 2016? What are some other key trends in higher education from 2015? Comment and let us know.

Chanel M. Sutherland Marketing Content Specialist, Explorance

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