Last month the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative issued a report called the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition that explored key trends, challenges, and technologies that are likely to affect higher education within the next five years. Today we’ll look at the challenge of embracing new learning approaches, maintaining relevancy, and adapting to technological advances and explain how policy and leadership are essential to higher education.

New Learning Approaches & New Student Needs

The fundamental goal of colleges and universities is to prepare students for success in the workforce. The catch is that the workforce is constantly changing, and in the last 10 to 15 years it has changed substantially. Today’s students have different expectations about what learning constitutes and how it should be done. To a large degree, their expectations reflect the reality of today’s high-tech workplace.

Studies on Innovation & Personalization

The idea of “deeper learning” is all about reversing the trend of top-down, memorization-heavy education so that students take a more active role in their education. Instructors should endeavor to cultivate curiosity in students and act as learning guides instead of “instructors.”  The adage, “sage on the stage” no longer is the best way – now, faculty should take the role of “guide on the side” to facilitate students’ learning.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that students performed 16 percent better using self-paced learning than those who were conventionally taught. A three-year study on non-traditional learning environments at Ball State University found that students who took classes via “informal workshop environments” (with a mix of online conferences and face-to-face meetings with professors) were far more engaged and enthusiastic about their education than their counterparts.

The Challenge of Innovation

Most faculty are acutely aware of the benefits of personalized teaching—but given the decrease in funding and the resultant increase in class sizes,  few have the time to give each and every student the individualized attention they need. Moreover, measuring outcomes of personalized, “deeper learning” approaches is a real challenge. Traditional teaching models are built around assessment of students, which makes assessment of the program as a whole and faculty rather straightforward. But those models are aging fast, and education institutions that cling to them put themselves at risk of losing relevancy. To measure the effectiveness of these “newfangled” programs, education institutions must take advantage of data and analytics that provide learning personalization and measure outcomes in a personalized way.

The broader question is this: how do higher education administrators put these practices into place?

Even if higher education administrators understand the trends discussed above and recognize what changes need to be made to remain relevant and successful, they’re likely to find significant resistance to change among faculty. The Change Leader can help.

Your Partner for Organization-Wide Change

The Change Leader works organizations whose bottom line goes beyond making money. We help educational institutions design, implement, and curry support for innovative new curricula and initiatives, providing everything from change management to leadership development to curriculum development to team-building and accreditation preparation. To learn more, please visit our homepage today.