- Digital tools and applications are becoming more accessible and integrated into higher ed instruction and operations, according to a number of higher ed leaders, but administrators and school leaders must work to ensure that all involved can reinvent their approaches in line with emerging tech, Campus Technology reports.
- Former United States Distance Learning Association President Marci Powell said much progress had been made on nearing the "tipping point" of immersive learning — including with VR and 3D tools, as headset manufacturers have drastically reduced prices and the sheer amount of VR lesson plans available have made crafting a curriculum including the tech easier.
- Daniel Christian, an adjunct faculty member at Calvin College, said institutions need to be sure to consider which tech landscapes they should consistently "pulse-check" to ensure they remain in the know on advancements, and schools should also self-assess their level of innovation and craft a five-year improvement plan.
The increased accessibility of state-of-the-art tech tools, such as high-quality streaming video, have made it far easier to fashion online learning courses that can be successful for students, according to a professor who said the evolution of such classes could transform classroom instruction and discussion. However, this progression is occurring due to the ubiquity of these advancements for students. High-quality video, for example, can now be accessed via a smartphone.
Immersive technologies like VR and 3D are also becoming increasingly common, and school administrators are continuing to invest more heavily in their prominence. But they haven't yet reached the saturation point that allows professors using video to make assumptions that most students can access these advancements. It is also important to note that there isn't necessarily equity among students, even when it comes to devices like smartphones or benefits like Wi-Fi access.
Schools are also looking beyond the classroom when it comes to innovating in the use of this tech. Texas A&M, for example, is utilizing VR tours of its campus for students who may not physically be able to visit the institution.
These tools could signal a sea change in educational standards, as VR is a $150 billion industry already seismically impacting other fields. But administrators need to seek financial support, whether from state or federal coffers or from private philanthropy, to make sure those benefits are accessible for all. As more time passes, the gap between high-quality and affordability will likely close, and institutions should work now to ensure they are ready when it does.