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16 Issues Driving Higher Education's Approach to Teaching and Learning

A new survey released by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative provides a framework for addressing the role of technology in improving postsecondary teaching and learning.

This article, written by Wyatt Kash, was originally posted by EdScoop on February 15, 2017

Rising costs, aging computer systems and the changing demands of a more diverse, tech-savvy population are challenging long-standing approaches to teaching and learning at U.S. colleges and universities.

For higher education leaders, faculty and students — and the technology teams trying to support them — the breadth of those challenges became clearer with the release this week of EDUCAUSE's 2017 list of 16 "Key Issues in Teaching and Learning."

The list reflects the views of more than 900 members of the higher education community as part an annual survey by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.

“What we're trying to do is to bring together the senior leadership of the campuses who are responsible for teaching and learning support and create a community of practice, so they have the capacity or the mechanism to share best practices, to find common solutions, co-invent and collaborate on approaches to the challenges that are facing higher institutions with teaching and learning today,” ELI Director Malcolm Brown told EdScoop in recent interview.

Much of that community's current focus revolves around an overarching effort to develop a set of practices to lead academic transformation, he said.

“I think everyone is sensing that we need something powerful — more strategic types of transformations in our teaching and learning mission, in addition to all the day-to-day fixes and improvements and work that we do,” he said.

But Brown also believes higher education officials have reached a tipping point where they must not only embrace new ways to use technology, but must also tackle the challenges inherent in managing institutional change.

“If you're going to think about doing something transformational, then you're going to have to really approach and be deliberate about change management. You can have the best idea in the world about how to improve teaching and learning at your campus. [But] if you can't help the culture change, to accept it, get the innovation to diffuse in that way, obviously it's going to be a pretty frustrating experience,” he said.

That's where ELI's 2017 key issues list comes in. The list, unveiled in Houston this week at ELI's annual conference, provides a framework for where the higher education community as a whole needs to focus its attention. Here are the 16 key issues:

1. Faculty Development — Empower and enable faculty to create opportunities for active learning and use technology and evidence-based principles to achieve learning objectives.

2. Academic Transformation — Support new and breakthrough models for teaching and learning, such as competency-based education, taking advantage of innovative partnerships and alliances.

3. Digital & Informational Literacies — Identify and develop new student competencies that helps them find, evaluate, create and manage digital information and foster greater digital literacy in the 21st century.

4. Accessibility & Universal Design for Learning — Adapt to the more mobile and diverse nature of students' lives, by educating the higher education community in effective practices and course designs that are accessible by everyone.

5. CBE & Assessment for Student Learning — Foster practices and principles surrounding competency-based education assessments to better support student learning.

6. Open Education — Embrace open educational resources as a way to address rising textbook costs and the widening use of mobile and online technologies to access education materials.

7. Online & Blended Teaching & Learning — Evolve how courses are delivered, combining traditional and online learning to better serve on-campus students and remote learners alike.

8. Learning Space Designs — Redesign learning spaces from places used for presentations to more interactive spaces that promote discovery, inquiring and making to enable active learning.

9. Evolution of the Profession — Recognize the shifting roles of faculty and support staff and foster stronger cross-organizational support of professional development for teaching and learning.

10. Learning Analytics — Use data and learning analytics more pro-actively to assess student performance, improve course development and crate customized learning environments.

11. Working with Emerging Technology — Develop methods to discovery, pilot and scale new technologies and innovations to support the success of students and instructors.

12. Evaluating Tech-Based Instructional Innovations — Look for and assess tools to gather and analyze evidence of learning effectiveness and use the results to adjust curriculum development.

13. Next Generation Digital Learning Environments and LMS Services — Continue evolving digital learning environments and support services for learning management systems, built around open standards and component-based architecture.

14. Privacy and Security — Formulate policies for increased data sharing while also educating faculty and students on using best security and privacy protection practices.

15. Adaptive Teaching and Learning — Foster adaptive learning and course integration using adaptive technology designs and learning evaluation tools.

16. Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success — Build on programs that support student planning, advising and performance alerts to promote overall student success.

(EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative)
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