Do you remember the good old days when higher education used to be grueling? When you wanted to find information, you had to physically walk into the library to pick up a textbook. There also wasn’t as much information to be found in the early days of the internet, so you might fail questions even a fifth grader can solve with a quick glimpse at Google.
But things are changing rapidly. New technologies are available that can help you learn in an instant what took your professors years to study.
There are so many exciting higher education trends now available that will make students brighter and happier than ever before, but here are the top 10.
1. Online learning
I know what you are thinking – online learning isn’t new, so why is it on the list of best trends? Yes, we have had online training for a while, but now it has reached a whole new level. Full degrees are now available online at discounted rates. This is especially beneficial for students who work part-time or live in areas where the standard of education is not as high.
You can now earn simultaneous degrees from a local university and a leading global institution at the same time.
2. Competency-based Education (CBE)
There are so many things we learn in school that we will NEVER apply to our lives. The same is true in higher education. That is why alternative learning systems such as competency-based education are such a novel idea.
It allows you to combine your work experience, life experiences and education for a more targeted learning outcome. CBE aims to take advantage of the skills you already have to prepare you for your dream placement. Many career paths no longer require a university degree. If you fancy a career in digital marketing, for example, you could work for a leading digital agency while undergoing your degree, as most of the skills you need are best learnt on the job.
3.Improved student loans
Financing education is a pain. The fear of student loans alone can distract even the sharpest minds. By making education more affordable, stress is alleviated, and student performance can skyrocket. One of the best trends in 2019 has been a rise in Income Share Agreements (ISA).
This provides a more flexible structure that will enable students to repay their student loans as their careers progress, instead of demanding it all upfront.
4. Online Program Manager (OPM)
If you don’t know what an OPM is, I have one word for you: Coursera. OPM’s are private institutions that act as intermediaries for universities. They push the marketing efforts of online programs for institutions while allowing the colleges to focus on what they do best.
OPM’s make it easier for students to earn degrees, and the modules are usually broken down into easier, bite-sized chunks. This makes it easier for students to learn and not fall behind on studies.
5. AI learning integration
Not everybody learns or assimilates information in the same way. A one-size-fits-all approach to teaching is the reason many students have been labelled as ‘slow.’
By tailoring teaching styles for each student, colleges would see dramatic improvements. However, this is often not possible or is simply too expensive.
So what’s the alternative? Artificial Intelligence.
More universities are experimenting with AI to help students find the resources they need for their programs. The AI assistant can help recommend videos, online tutorials and books that suit the individual’s learning style.
strong>6. Industry and University Collaboration
Why is it that most companies still take the time to re-train graduates? That’s because what they get is often not what they want. To correct this, more companies are partnering with institutions to give guidance as to what they actually desire from a graduate. This means there will be more practical learning going on, which again is a huge boost for tactile learners.
7. VR and AR
One of the best trends we have seen recently is the increased use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in higher institutions. Immersive learning has turned education upside down – in a good way.
Now, when teaching complex topics that require field experience, students can quickly put on a pair of VR glasses and have immediate ‘hands-on’ experience. Courses with practical applications such as construction and piloting were early adopters, but now everyone can see the benefits.
Colleges want to get their hands on VR or AR tech that will help visual learners accelerate development on pace with auditory learners. This should lead to higher grade outcomes, as more learning styles are being catered for.
8. Pathway programs
Pathway programs make it easier for foreigners to gain degrees outside their country. Every institution with an international body of students can bear witness that the level of academics is greatly improved as a result.
However, with immigration troubles, this has become a lot harder to carry out in recent times. Thankfully, new companies are taking on the role of helping cross-border education. By allowing students from various countries to learn, we would not only have brighter students but also brighter nations.
9. Alternative learning institutions
If a regular degree is boring to you, you can now opt for an alternative learning institution. These lean institutions focus on the end result i.e., lead developer at Google, a finance officer at a leading consultancy – instead of a generic BSc in Finance or a computer engineering degree. This is great for students who don’t want to be distracted by courses they aren’t interested in, and would flunk if forced to do it.
10. More experts stepping in
Finally, arguably the best trend of all: Imagine if Bill Gates had taught your coding class in university. Would you still have thought the course was boring? Or imagine a social marketing or entrepreneurship class by Mr. Mark himself. How would that affect your outlook on life?
When this trend takes off, we would have more engaged students eager to learn from people they know and look up to (sorry Professor Gregory, but you are no Elon Musk).
Many of these trends are still in their infancy, but as their adoption increases in 2019, we will keep seeing improvements in academic results and student satisfaction. Let’s hope the changes happen quickly