Pictures: A GSU teacher guides students on a virtual tour of Rome.
2. Collaboration Platforms
Videos, presentations and forums integrate education materials from different sources in different formats. This makes learning easier and social.
As a result these platforms are fueling collaboration among Higher Education centers.
Education and innovation consortium NMC's2015 Higher Education report points to this trend. A growing number of institutions collaborating in technology, research and shared values.
They do this by forming local and international strategic alliances and consortia. But these partnerships have to be relevant and beneficial for all participants.
The report mentionsOpen Cloud Consortium (OCC) as a successful example of this. This entity enables professors and researchers to share vast amounts of data.
An NMC report shows a growing number of universities forging collaborative strategic alliances
The departments at the university are in constant consultation, and the head of the faculty monitors changes in workload and evaluates its impact, while the staff discusses concerning workloads and reports any difficulties and variations.
This faces deans and academic directors with important challenges. On one hand collaboration is key for benefitting students trough innovation. And at the same time they need to collaborate to nurture local academic ecosystems.
The internet is the great facilitator of collaboration in Higher Education. The reason? It eliminates geographic boundaries hindering local and international collaboration between students and teachers.
They aren't mainstream yet, but several platforms are making student collaboration easier:
That is why the workload of teachers is constantly revised and recorded to ensure that the staff is neither over nor underworked. It is important for universities to run curriculum and syllabi consultation processes with permanent and non-permanent faculty members, to assess both the student and the teacher’s workload.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England funded a study on improving managing academic workloads. They concluded that consensual agreed initiatives improve the process both for the academic staff and the heads of school in several ways:
Google Docs enables remote document creation, commenting and revision
Pearson predicts AI will give students instant feedback on their learning process. But there's more. It will also assess their level of knowledge and even their mood. This will end the need to interrupt learning to take standardized tests.
Very soon including AI in academic curricula will be key to attract and keep students.
But the most fascinating prediction is the rise of "lifelong learning companions".
This virtual tutor will make questions, offer suggestions and curate educational resources. It will also counsel and encourage students when they run into difficulties.
In time this companion will "learn" what you know, what interests you and how you learn. All your data –your data– will be in the cloud and follow your process from kinder to postgraduate ed and beyond.
For now nothing can replace human interaction in the learning experience. But soon including AI in academic curricula will affect student attraction and student retention in higher education.