Monday, November 7, 2011

Technology Trends in Higher Education

Technology has had a great deal of influence over education. Over 1.6 million college students (specifically community college students) enrolled in at least one online course during the fall of 2002 and over one-third of these same students took all of their courses online. With these numbers in place and the continued growth of student population, technology in education has become the solution for many higher education institutions.

With such an explosion of growth and need, the use of technology has not always been positive. Problems have plagued the use of technology in higher education classes throughout the country. Many people within the system see five major trends that will affect the future of technology/distance learning. The following is a list these current trends in higher education:

o Growing population of students enrolling combined with inadequate infrastructure (faculty, administration, buildings, etc.)
o Changing student needs (lack of time and need for flexibility are foremost)
o Instruction altered to more student centered, non-linear, and self-directed (needed in order to meet the diverse academic needs of students)
o Necessity of lifelong learning classes
o knowledge and competency of students in the use of the Internet

All of these trends can be traced back to distance learning. Higher education institutions need to take action now, in order to enhance their distance education programs.

There are ways in which schools can meet the current trends through distance education. One way is to provide more help through Student Services. By encouraging the use to of help desks at schools, students will have their needs assessed and met. Some campuses have found the creation of a centralized website for the school to be beneficial.

The website has given future and current students access to information quickly. The majority of the states have become a part of statewide coordinating board or consortium of distance education learning programs. These boards/consortiums have provided support, financial sources, evaluation procedures, and the establishment of clear missions for distance learning education courses throughout the states. All of these efforts work toward the goal of implementing valid distance learning programs.

The key to the future of education is online distance learning, but only if continued research and the development of quality programs persist. By examining current trends, campuses will be better equipped to meet the needs of today's student.

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