Higher Education Technology Innovations. Part 1 – How Are Things Changing and Why?

Recently, Wright1 hosted the first session in a three-part series titled, “Children, Education, and Technology: What Every Parent Needs to Know.” The keynote speaker of the first event was Melissa Loble, Associate Dean of Distance Learning at the University of California, Irvine Extension. Melissa Loble explored the critical topic of “Higher Education Technology Innovations: How to Prepare as a Parents.”

One of the key points I took away from the session was:

  • How is higher education changing
  • Why are they changing

So let’s start off by looking at why higher education is changing…

Why is Higher Education Changing?

There are several factors pushing changes in higher education. We all know the standard reason… The change is driven by the fact that we are now part of the information age, with an information driven economy.  Great! But really how does this apply to college education?

Melissa Loble’s presentation, “Higher Education Technology Innovations: How to Prepare as a Parent,” probed deeper into this topic and identified four specific factors causing change:

-Students. The current generation of students is taking a new approach to learning and also to life;

-Funding. There’s less money available to fund education;

-Degree cost and time to completion. The cost of education is rising and it’s taking longer to complete which only increases the overall cost to the student. (Bad combination!);

-Competition and alternatives. There are plenty of other educational and life experience options besides the traditional college class room; such as online programs and direct immersion into the work world without attending college at all.

So with these forces of change, institutions must adapt to the transformation happening in education.

Change – They Must!

And higher education institutions are doing several things to adapt. They are  restructuring courses and integrating technology into the learning experience and process.

Restructuring Classes

Institutions are finding innovative ways to modify the structure or design of courses. There are “hybrid” courses, where part of class is online and the remainder face-to-face, and “flipped” courses, where lectures are completed at home and class time is reserved for hands-on problem solving work. The good thing about switching up class designs is that courses now fit with students’ changing learning styles. Now, the teachers can help their students learn to apply knowledge, rather than merely imparting knowledge.

Adding Technology

Higher education has also embraced this generation’s reliance on technology. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are becoming immensely popular and gaining momentum. People are enrolling by the hundreds of thousands, with companies sponsoring MOOCs and universities offering them to students. Institutions are also using mobile devices, social media and online resources like informational videos to reach their students.

Higher education is even giving students the option to take coursework almost exclusively online. This transition is taking away the competitive edge online universities had over the traditional brick and mortar colleges. It is also enabling students to complete degree programs more quickly, easily, and hopeful affordably than before.

Wrapping It Up

All in all, higher education is going through big changes and institutions will have to adapt to survive in this transformation of education. They are doing this by restructuring how courses are designed and taught, and by integrating technology into the degree programs. However, like all changes, these also have their impacts; poor grammar, spelling, decreased emphasis on formal and business writing, and increased stress caused by an “always online” society.

In our next article on the topic of “Higher Education Technology Innovations: How to Prepare as a Parent,” we will look at these impacts to students and how higher education is working to overcome these challenges.



1. Bush J., & Best, R. (2013, May 23). Higher Ed in 2018. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/05/23/essay-predicting-radical-change-higher-education-over-next-five-years

2. Levine, A. (2013, April 29). MOOCs, History and Context. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/04/29/essay-nature-change-american-higher-education

3. Loble, Melissa. “Higher Education Technology Innovations: How to Prepare as a Parent.” In person presentation on Nov 12, 2013.

4. MacNeill, A., Masson, A., & Ross, V (n.d.) Lost in Transition? Helping Students to Adapt to New Learning Situations. Slideshare.net. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from  http://www.slideshare.net/cies/lost-in-transition-helping-students-to-adapt-to-new-learning-situations

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