Four Advances in Technology to Look for in Higher Education

Technology has changed the way we live—and education is no exception.

When the first personal computer was released in 1981, only 16 percent of schools used them for instructional purposes. A short ten years later, 98 percent did so.

Today, technology continues to change the way the next generation of students is taught. From clunky computers to sleek laptops, from personal device assistants to smartphones, new technological advances are only furthering higher education.

“We’re flooded with technology innovations that make promises to do all these things,” says Tiffany Masson, Psy.D., the dean of the Online Campus at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “But in the next five or ten years it’s really about how we choose which ones really matter to make a difference for our students.”

Discernment in technology only helps to elevate teaching, an idea that Sean Nufer, the Director of Educational Technology at TCS, also agrees with.

“There is a lot of flashy tech that can dress up our course content, but before we explore and integrate options it is imperative that we run a needs assessment and determine which obstacles we are facing,” Nufer says. “Only then can we look to technology to help solve our problems and positively influence teaching and learning in the classroom.”

The future of higher education is digital: 15.4 percent of students were enrolled exclusively online in 2017, up from 14.7 percent in 2016. As we continue to think of the best ways to help better learning methods and future outcomes, read below for four technological trends to look for in higher education.


1. Artificial intelligence ties technology to learning and brings more access to students.

Artificial intelligence is the use of machines to process information and translate it appropriately to a specific experience. AI can be used for grading, internal communications, tutoring tools, and so much more.

Educational software can be adapted to each student’s goals, which creates a more immersive environment. Programs like Nuance, a speech recognition software used to enhance spelling ability and word identification, emphasize the idea that not all students learn in the same way and that curriculum should be fit to each particular individual. AI technology also creates more accessible programs that students from all over the globe can participate in.

“In the last class I taught, my students spanned four different countries,” Nufer says. “But through collaborative technology such as Padlet and Canvas groups, I was able to help students meaningfully connect with each other and apply a constructivism learning model to the class.”


2. Adaptive learning creates a more personalized experience.

Adaptive learning programs alter content in real time based on performance and activity progress. This means that the program will immediately respond to how a student interacts with the learning materials.

“What we know about adaptive learning based on research, is that it’s related to higher completion rates and accelerated time to completion and that’s what the marketplace is asking of us,” Dr. Masson explains.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is adding to this body of research by conducting A/B tests for students involved in adaptive learning modules to see if there are differences in learning outcomes. This research will help further personalize educational experiences and help students master their chosen course of study in a holistic way.


3. Digital credentialing plays a key role in the hiring and employment process.

Digital badging is a way of acknowledging both the skills of the traditional degree obtained, as well as courses taken in other fields that contribute to an applicant’s capabilities. Nufer believes this to be the area that has the most immediate impact.

“As educational institutions work to bridge the gap between degree programs and potential employers. Credentialing allows graduates to demonstrate competencies, which can amount to on-the-job proficiency,” Nufer explains.

Keeping track of smaller niches of education aids students in enhancing their skill set and brings a well-rounded frame of reference to a prospective position. This allows students to fully apply the degree that they worked so hard for to their dream career.


4. Virtual reality helps students experience high-stress situations for the first time in a low-stress environment.

Virtual reality utilizes technology to place students directly in an experience. All five senses can be stimulated to provide a lifelike learning environment. 58 percent of respondents in a 2017 survey had a favorable attitude towards the use of virtual reality in teaching and now 46 percent of U.S. colleges utilize virtual reality in their courses.

TCSPP has incorporated VR into the psychopharmacology program and multicultural avatars have been placed in BSN, Ed Psych, and Tech program curriculum. The idea that students studying therapy and counseling can come face-to-face with a virtual suicidal client before encountering this situation on the job is not only a one of a kind learning technique but also has the ability to save lives.