Top Higher-ed Tech Trends for 2013

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor

A survey of colleges and universities previews some of the top higher-ed tech trends set to emerge in 2013. The survey comes from Edudemic, a site connecting educators and students with ed-tech tools and resources.

Smart phones figure prominently, and 89 percent of surveyed colleges said they send text messages as part of their emergency communications. Ninety-three percent of college students text message, and 53 percent own a smart phone. A new trend will focus on using SMS communications to update students on deadlines and assignments, provide instant contact in case of emergency, and keep students, faculty, and staff informed on general updates and campus activities, according to the survey.

Social media, already a huge tech trend that offers endless possibilities in the classroom, will continue to be a major force in higher education. Every university surveyed said it maintains a Facebook account, 80 percent have a Twitter account, and 70 percent operate YouTube or Vimeo channels. Eighty-three percent of schools said they use social media to engage alumni, and 38 percent engage the local community through social media tools.

The survey also touched on higher-ed tech trends involving free, non-credit online courses—known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs—and notes that one popular MOOC from Stanford included 160,000 participants from 190 countries.
3D printing, eBooks, the bring your own device movement, and other trends also are featured in the survey. In particular, 3D printing has the potential to create paper covered by solar cells and buildings from dust.

Game-based learning is predicted to mature, becoming more accepted and having a greater impact in the classroom. More universities are expected to embrace eBooks, adding to a movement that encourages schools and students to forego expensive and quickly outdated traditional textbooks in favor of more interactive digital texts that are updated easily.

Universities also are expected to take advantage of open textbooks, which are offered for free or at much lower price points than traditional texts. Additionally, course instructors are able to modify open textbooks to suit their individual needs.

And as student-to-counselor ratios increase, some schools might opt for virtualizing college counseling, so students can sign up for one-on-one help when they need it.

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