6 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2020
This year’s top issues in education technology reflect the bigger picture of a student’s pathway from individual course all the way to graduation and career.
Education technology goes beyond the classroom. Increasingly, the tech that supports teaching and learning must factor in the bigger picture of a student’s entire pathway through college, from individual course all the way to graduation and handoff to a career. So when we talked to three higher education and technology leaders about the ed tech trends to watch this year, their responses reflected that broader view of what’s important for today’s students. From extended reality to predictive analytics and industry partnerships, here’s what they told us about today’s top issues in ed tech.
1) Workforce Readiness
Bridget Burns: I expect to see more colleges think about how data and technology can help to address the “communications gap” we face in the transition from college to careers. We need useful and effective solutions to help support colleges in their quest to communicate what their graduates know and can do. In an era of LinkedIn profiles and digital credentials, the analog transcript is a woefully insufficient way to translate educational experiences into searchable workplace skills. I expect we’ll see more institutions tap technologies like digital badges or even virtual internships to bridge the gap.
Ernie Perez: I think we need to keep a lookout for what is happening with the micro-credentialing space. For instance, recently edX announced that it would be offering MicroBachelors to help adult learners progress in their careers. This is on top of the many MicroMasters that already exist within edX and other similar platforms. These micro-credentials will be stackable and will have some university credits associated with them. As we look at workforce readiness, we will start to find learners looking for specific skills and for programs that fit their needs. We are no longer looking at students that are willing to spend four-plus years getting a bachelor’s degree in an on-campus setting; rather, they are looking for just-in-time learning for the skills that are needed for the job or jobs that they have or aspire to get.
In addition, workforce readiness comes to play later on in life when learners are looking to get graduate degrees while holding down jobs, taking care of their families or staying at home. Online degrees are aplenty but what we will start seeing more of are affordable degrees at scale. For example, here at Boston University, we are offering an online MBA program starting in Fall 2020 that will cost $24,000 all in.
2) Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
Burns: I think we’ll see more institutions adopt the use of chatbots to meet student expectations while also maximizing staff and faculty time. Through the University Innovation Alliance’s early experimentation with chatbots, we’re seeing chatbots as a way to reorient the university around customer (student) service. It’s not so much the technology — although chatbots are helping automate basic tasks so advisers can focus more on students — but about what you do with it. We also think it’s time for institutions to hold the IP we create, so our institutions are working to develop an open source database of common student questions and confusion that has been surfaced by the chatbots. Those insights are forcing new conversations about how we serve our students, and that holds tremendous promise.