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3 innovation trends in higher education for 2017

In most Dutch universities students are about to start their next termare studying hard for their exams right now. This gives us a chance to look into the trends in higher education for the upcoming year. What will be the focus areas of innovation in higher education?

1. Accepting credits for MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) are now available for a few years and their potential is enormous. There is so much content online available that on most topics multiple different instructions are available, so it is almost always possible to find an instruction that suits your learning style. However most universities are struggling to use this potential of MOOC’s in their regular education. As an example at only two Dutch universities you might be able to receive credits for completing a MOOC’s.

In 2017 we will expect that almost every (Dutch) university will follow this example and makes it possible to get credits for MOOC’s. It might be even possible that some regular courses are (partially) replaced by MOOC’s, or in that case SPOC’s (Small private online courses). This will result in part of the students that will still remain to visit regular classes and part that will take the MOOC or SPOC content. Probably still both groups will take a general exam at the university to make sure that the level of students is sufficient.

More info on this topic at: TU Delft and Wageningen UR.

2. Applying learning analytics

The past few years a lot of research is done into the critical factors for study success. With the improved tracking in the electronic learning environments and the Big data hype, universities are become more and more equipped for learning analytics.

We foresee that research will be translated into useful tools for both students and lecturers to keep track of their performance. In the next couple of yearsE early warning systems will be implemented in many programmes to monitor student behaviour and the mentor or lecturer can take action if the behaviour of a single student of a group of students changes drastically.

Also, in course evaluation data will become increasingly important. Which parts of the course were well attended and did the student (in general) understand that part well. This way the strength and weaknesses of course can be found and improved upon for next year.

Read more on this topic in our blog series learning analytics.

3. Agile Education

Agile is a relative new project and work methodology of companies. Small, independent functioning teams that work on projects with strict deadlines. Every few weeks the precise focus is determined, this way the team can adjust to changing circumstances rather quickly.

In education currently curricula are planned way in advance., This which is in contradiction with the fact that we often educate students for jobs that do not exists at this point. It is therefore evident that students need to be able to handle changing circumstances.

Therefore the projects of student will become agile as well, with changing focusses even within the project itself. This can be achieved by starting with a more open question. For marketing this can be: “How can we market product x?”, instead of “Try to market product x using content marketing”. During the project the focus of the team be changed a few times to get to the best marketing strategy and implementation.

With the current amount of educational content available online, lecturers have more time available to focus on the projects instead of explaining theory. This gives the room to implement the agile philosophy in education, starting in 2017.

More information on agile in education on http://www.agileineducation.org and https://www.agilebusiness.org/news/teaching-agile-in-higher-education.