Are you using the Edtech Technologies?

toned image boy looking away from his palmThe New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report > 2015 Higher Education has just been released. The report covers technology and trends on the five-year horizon (2015-2020) for higher education institutions, and is widely used by educational leaders and policy makers internationally to guide decisions.

Since one function of higher education is to prepare its students to successfully enter the workforce and contribute positively to the global economy, emerging trends in higher education have a direct correlation to trends in the workplace, and vice versa. Are you currently using, or planning to use, the trends that the expert panelists working with NMC are expecting you to use or implement “soon” (meaning, within the next one year)?

The 6 Emerging Technology Trends on the Horizon (2015-2020)

Before you answer that last question, let’s list the six emerging technology trends identified in the 2015 Horizon Report. The trends are divided into three distinct time horizons. Near-term trends are expected to achieve widespread adoption in one year or less. Mid-term and long-term trends have a time-to-adoption horizon of 2-3 years and 4-5 years, respectively.

The six trends on the education horizon for 2015-2020 are:

  • Near-term: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Flipped Classroom
  • Mid-term: Makerspaces and Wearable Technology
  • Long-term: Adaptive Learning Technologies and The Internet of Things

So, the experts are expecting that leaders and policy makers in higher education institutions, and by extension leaders in workplace learning, have or will have adopted a BYOD policy and the flipped classroom as digital strategies to enrich and enhance teaching and learning by the end of 2015. These two digital strategies also happen to be well-suited to the learning technologies of online training and mLearning.

Are you using BYOD and/or flipping the classroom in your training? Whether you choose to implement one or either is a dependent on your own unique organizational needs.


BYOD” signifies “Bring Your Own Device”—individuals purchase their device of choice using personal funds and connect to the workplace network. The strategy on the opposite side of the spectrum is “1:1”—the organization purchases devices and parcels them out for the duration of employment.

Consider a BYOD strategy when you want to:

  • Make Use of Device Familiarity: People are more willing to spend time using new devices with which they are already familiar.
  • Promote Possession of the Latest and Greatest: School/corporate technology usually lags behind the consumer market. Consumers have access to “better” and “must-have” technology.
  • Leverage Respect for Personal Property: People are inclined to take better care of their own property.
  • Lower Equipment Costs: No upfront costs by the organization for device/accessory purchases.

On the flip side, consider 1:1 strategy to:

  • Bridge the Digital Divide: Provide equal access to devices for all.
  • Simplify IT: Restriction on the type and model of device allowed translates to fewer device variants to support, and greater negotiating power for corporate bulk discounts from equipment and service providers.
  • Exert Control: Standardize learning experiences, gather learning data, and monitor online behavior.
  • Clarify Ownership of Equipment and Data: Upon termination of employment, the device returns to the organization. There are no content ownership questions, even if personal data was added to the device.

The decision to follow a BYOD vs. 1:1 strategy is definitely a decision to be made with the Learning, IT, Purchasing and HR departments (possibly other departments as well). Each group will have a unique contribution to the ultimate decision.

Why the Flipped Classroom?

Traditionally, students attend lectures in class. Then, they leave the classroom and read the text and solve problems. Proactive students will read the text before the lecture, attend lecture, and then leave and solve problems, write essays, attend study groups, etc.

Flip this model, and you have students watching lectures, reading text, and learning content (typically online), and then attending class and solving problems, writing essays and gaining practical knowledge with the teacher in the classroom. The teacher flips roles from lecturer to partner/coach/tutor/guide. The de facto example of the modern flipped classroom is Khan Academy.

Why consider flipping?

  • Opportunity to Blend Formal and Informal Learning: Formal learning (lectures, text, etc.) can be separated from informal learning (discussion, independent research, group activities, etc.). This ability to compartmentalize learning strategies leads to the ability to be more creative when blending learning into an overarching program.
  • Strengthens the Team: If class-time is spent on learning activities that are experiential, discussion-based, contextualized and collaborative, then learning can build up teams at the same time knowledge is disseminated.
  • More Time for Personalizing Learning: Instructors can extricate themselves from lecturing in front of the class. Rather, they can spend class time helping each learner make real connections with content—personalizing learning.
  • Standardizes Messaging: If the “lecture” component is online, the message can be standardized across multiple locales. In-class activities can then take into account local culture, language, or focus on business unit-specific content.
  • Aids in Learner-Centered Learning: Classroom discussion can be focused on learner needs, rather than the need of the instructor to get everyone on the same page through a lecture. For example, if students read the lecture beforehand and come to class with a prepared list of questions, the instructor can spend face-time on the topics that the students want to discuss.

Should you choose to flip your corporate classroom, remember that providing the learning material online beforehand doesn’t guarantee that students will learn. There is an element of trust that must be placed in the learner that he or she will prepare appropriately. Also, in flipped or traditional classrooms, the instructor still needs to design training that engages the learner and connects to their internal motivation.

What Trends Have You Decided to Follow?

Trends are meant to be barometers. Educate yourself on current trends, and decide whether each trend is something that your organization should follow.

“Educational technology is defined in a broad sense as tools and resources that are used to improve teaching, learning, and creative inquiry,” the 2015 NMC Horizon Report tell us. In the near-term (one year or less), have you or will you implement a BYOD policy and/or a flipped classroom model in some or all of your corporate online training?

Please share your thoughts on why these near-term trends may or may not be good digital strategies for your unique organizational learning needs.

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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