The latest NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Higher Education Edition, released by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, identifies trends, challenges and developments in higher education that need to be addressed in educational technology in the short, medium and long term.

Key Trends Accelerating Higher Education Technology Adoption


  • Advancing the State of Online Learning: Research and experiments in learning analytics and adaptive learning will continue to improve the state of online learning.
  • Rethinking Learning Spaces: New forms of learning, such as the flipped classroom, require changes in the design of learning environments in universities.


  • Open Educational Resources:Not only free of charge, but also freely copyable and remixable with no limits on educational use.
  • Data-driven Learning and Assessment:Learning analytics should provide information that helps to improve both learning assessment and learning results.


  • Agile Strategies for Change:Technology can be used as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation.
  • Open Communities and University Consortia:Collaboration and collective action will become increasingly important as it results in significant cost reductions.

Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Higher Education

Solvable challenges:

  • Digital Literacy: An agreement on the definition of digital literacy and the new skills that need to be added to the traditional view of literacy is required.
  • Blending Formal and Informal Learning:Informal learning over the Internet along with traditional teaching approaches can create environments that foster experimentation and creativity.

Difficult challenges:

  • Complex Thinking and Communication: The semantic web, big data and modelling technologies can help to communicate complex information in a comprehensible form.
  • Integrating Personalized Learning: New technologies to support current technology and practices are being developed to try to meet the demand of personalized learning.

 Complex challenges:

  • Competing Models of Education:With the emergence of platforms, such as MOOCs, there is a need to evaluate these models and the possibilities of integration.
  • Rewarding Teaching.

 Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education


  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Bringing your own laptop, tablet or other mobile devices to learning environments is already a common practice. While there is a growing number of BYOD policies, there are still concerns regarding platform neutrality and digital divide issues.
  • Flipped Classroom: In this model of learning, class time is devoted to project-based collaborative learning activities.


  • Makerspaces:Community-oriented workshops that provide tools, such as 3D printers or 3D modelling applications, are becoming an increasingly relevant part of the renovation and repurposing of learning spaces.
  • Wearable Technology: This refers to computer-based devices, such as smart watches, that are part of the everyday life of many people.


  • Adaptive Learning Technologies: Artificial intelligence systems are able to learn how people learn and adapt learning paths to an individual’s specific needs.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT is a network of a wide array of connected objects that link the physical world with the web.


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