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6 emerging technologies that are impacting higher education


Over the past few years, trends regarding technology and digital tools for higher education have been constantly evolving and students are facing a new education era.

According to the New Media Consortium (NMC), whose advisory board consists of university members coming from over 40 countries, as well as 750 technology experts, there are ten emerging technologies that will have a great impact on higher education in the next five years.

These technologies are: cloud computing, mobile learning, learning analytics, open content, 3D printing, MOOCs, virtual and remote laboratories, games and gamification, tablet computing and wearable technology. We will explain some of the most important ones below.

  1. Cloud Computing

A few years ago, cloud computing was listed as an essential part of collaboration in both schools and the workplace. This technology has not only revolutionized the way in which data is stored and analyzed, but keeps expanding in new ways and impacting research and exchange activities in universities.

  1. Wearable Technology

One of the best examples that came out on the market a few years ago is Google’s “Project Glass”, followed by other promising ideas, such as Volkswagen’s recently launched trial of “3D smart glasses” in car manufacturing. Hence, through this technology, information can be displayed in a smartphone-like, hands-free format and users communicate by Internet via live voice commands.

  1. Mobile Learning

The mobile market has evolved very fast and there are dozens of billions of apps that users have downloaded on their smartphones or tablets. Mobile learning can be defined as a learning process which can be conducted within multiple contexts, through social and content interaction, using personal electronic devices.

Nowadays, more and more students are using apps, ranging from math to music apps, in order to access information, get instructed or conduct research.  The main advantage for using mobile learning is that the learner can become mobile, as it will be interacting with portable technologies.

  1. Tablet Computing

Universities have started rethinking the need for student computer labs and usage of personal laptops, as it got so much easier for students to use their tablets. Moreover, the variety of apps enables a much more attractive learning environment, which can be personalized and easily accessed.

  1. Games and Gamification

Gamification has proved to be a great training tool that can motivate people. The reason why this tool is becoming so powerful has to do with the fact that, if games are very effective in simulating real life experiences, larger canvases of game culture and game design should be taken into consideration. Games can be found for almost every field of study, ranging from architecture to history or medicine.

  1. Virtual and Remote Laboratories

Virtual and remote laboratories show a new trend in education – one which is trying to switch to online education.

There are various benefits regarding their implementation and the most important one is the flexibility that they offer. By learning in a virtual and remote lab, university students can, for example, run research experiments whenever they feel like it, sometimes maybe even outside regular course hours as well.  Moreover, the learning process can be friendlier, as students do not feel under pressure when they fail in their experiments.

Considering all of the above-mentioned aspects, we have to remember that this new technology within universities is not yet fully streamlined or even understood, so there are a few hurdles up ahead. Even if they have been proven to be beneficial for higher education, as some universities are already using them, university staff should raise awareness, promote and implement these systems within the educational curriculum, as well as be open to uptake them as the next generation of educational technology.

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