higher education. It’s the end of the calendar year, which means it’s time for holidays, bowl games, and lists. Lots of end-of-year lists.

Tweet: 3 ways technology will impact higher education in 2019

If it’s not the “Best of” one thing in the old year, then it’s the “Watch out for this” other thing in the new year. The world of technology is no exception, and there are certainly trends in technology as we head into the new year that everyone in higher education will be talking about in the coming months. Here are three of the big technology topics you’ll be hearing a lot about in 2019.

Blockchain

If you haven’t already heard the term blockchain, you’re bound to start hearing about it in 2019. Blockchain, to put it very simply, allows for information to be widely shared between multiple databases. It is the technology used with digital currency, and other industries are trying to figure out how best to use it, including the world of higher education.

Universities are considering blockchain as a way to speed up the process of providing transcripts. The concept has led to robust discussions about what should be included in those transcripts, such as whether behavioral and disciplinary issues should be noted there. Some universities are even experimenting with the idea of using blockchain for all administrative work.

AI

Artificial intelligence has been around for years, but it is on the verge of a huge leap forward if it hasn’t reached that point already. In higher ed, artificial intelligence is already used in foreign language classes, where students can converse with a computer in the language they are learning; as teaching assistants, where students can get answers to questions they have from virtual TAs; and in ways that can help recruit and enroll students.

Universities are expanding their use of machine learning to help match the right candidates to the right positions during the hiring process. Artificial intelligence is at the heart of new classes being developed in schools across the country. By the end of 2019, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to open a new college of computing that will address challenges presented by the prevalence of computers and the rise of artificial intelligence.

Smart spaces

For years people in education have talked about upgrading classrooms to match the upgrades in technology that are featured in those classrooms. University classrooms are starting to meet those demands, often using the changes in K-12 education as a model for change. Ideas for smart spaces can include everything from moving from lecture halls to more open learning spaces that encourage discussion and collaboration, to classrooms that reset to accommodate the class that’s entering, to the presence of technology like interactive whiteboards, projection screens, or student response systems that allow for active learning.

These are not the only innovations that are likely to take big steps forward in 2019. Higher ed institutions are constantly looking at ways to use technology to help students achieve success. One example that is likely to take steps forward in the coming year is adaptive learning technologies. But perhaps the most fun part about the end of the year look-ahead is looking back and realizing some of the advances that had the biggest impact were some of the things we never saw coming.

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John Sucich

John has more than a decade of experience in education as a teacher, board member, and communicator. He also spent several years in sports journalism. John graduated from Boston University with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism and from Lesley University with a master's degree in elementary education.
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