Research Question 4: Critical Challenges

What do you see as the key challenge(s) that STEM+ education will face during the next 5 years?

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

As you review what others have written, please add your thoughts and comments as well.

Please "sign" each of your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 7, 2012


Compose your entries like this:
  • Challenge Name. Add your ideas here, with few sentences of description including full URLs for references (e.g. http://horizon.nmc.org). And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!


  • Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching. Traditional approaches to scholarly evaluation such as citation-based metrics, for example, are often hard to apply to research that is disseminated or conducted via social media. New forms of peer review and approval, such as reader ratings, inclusion in and mention by influential blogs, tagging, incoming links, and re-tweeting, are arising from the natural actions of the global community of educators, with increasingly relevant and interesting results. These forms of scholarly corroboration are not yet well understood by mainstream faculty and academic decision makers, creating a gap between what is possible and what is acceptable. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for UK Tertiary Education)
  • Commercial providers are delivering ever more credible educational content, providing a wide range of customizable offerings at quality levels that may dampen interest in traditional sources of scholarly work, such as university presses, and even open educational resources (OERs). Increasingly, publishers are either buying learning resource websites or creating their own virtual warehouses of digital textbooks and other educational content. iTunes University is a prime example of this, offering thousands of course materials for free from distinguished institutions and professors. This trend creates a related challenge for university presses that have traditionally been the publishers of much of the work of their faculties; there is a growing fear that they will become obsolete. Both OERs and university presses are at a critical juncture for different reasons, yet each is aggressively confronted with the need to adapt, evolve, or even reconstruct their roles in education over the next five years. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for UK Tertiary Education).
  • The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices. The increasing demand for education that is customized to each student's unique needs is driving the development of new technologies that provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction. It has become clear that one-size-fits-all teaching methods are neither effective nor acceptable for today's diverse students. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching. (Carried forward from the NMC Horizon Project > 2012 HiEd Short List)
  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. This challenge, driven by a related trend, appears here because despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and non-existent in the preparation of faculty members. As lecturers and professors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for UK Tertiary Education)
  • Dividing learning into fixed units such as credit hours limits innovation across the board. For a long time now, credit hours have been the primary way of marking the progress of students in earning their college degrees. This method implies that time is an accurate and effective measure for knowledge comprehension and skill. This industrial construct hinders the growth of more authentic learning approaches, where students and teachers might make use of more creative strategies not bound by such constraints. (Carried forward from the NMC Horizon Project > 2012 HiEd Short List)
  • Economic pressures and new models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of education. Across the board, institutions are looking for ways to control costs while still providing a high quality of service. Institutions are challenged by the need to support a steady — or growing — number of students with fewer resources and staff than before. As a result, creative institutions are developing new models to serve students, such as streaming introductory courses over the network. As these pressures continue, other models may emerge that diverge from traditional ones. Simply capitalizing on new technology, however, is not enough; the new models must use these tools and services to engage students on a deeper level. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for UK Tertiary Education).
  • The global drive to increase the number of students participating in undergraduate education is placing pressure across the system. The off-cited relationship between earning potential and educational attainment, plus the clear impact of an educated society on the growth of the middle class is pushing many countries to encourage more and more students to enter universities and colleges. In many countries, however, the population of students prepared for undergraduate study is already enrolled — expanding access means extending it to students who may not have the academic background to be successful without additional support. Many in universities feel that these institutions do not have sufficient time and resources to help this set of students. (Carried forward from the NMC Horizon Project > 2012 HiEd Short List)
  • The growing choice that emerging technologies make possible — and how people navigate through this choice — is an on-going challenge. When there are so many options for both educators and students on which technologies to use, it is easy to lose sight of how they will impact the teaching and learning process. In online learning environments in particular, there are a plethora of available communication, collaboration, and information management platforms. Individually, each tool or application may be effective, but when used all together, they can create a complex user interface where the focus is on the technologies rather than the learning. Navigating through the potential technologies and understanding how they will interact with each other to create a simple, easy-to-use environment is a pressing issue that must be solved at the conceptual — not implementation — level. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for New Zealand Tertiary Education)
  • Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies. Too often it is education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies. Much resistance to change is simply comfort with the status quo, but in other cases, such as in promotion and tenure reviews, experimentation with or adoptions of clearly innovative applications of technologies is often seen as outside the role of researcher or scientist. (Carried forward from the NMC Horizon Report > 2012 HiEd Edition)
  • Most academics aren't using new and compelling technologies for learning and teaching, nor for organizing their own research. Many researchers have not undergone training on basic digitally supported teaching techniques, and most do not participate in professional development opportunities. This issue is due to several factors, including a lack of time, a lack of expectations that they should, and the lack of infrastructure to support the training. Academic research facilities rarely have the proper processes set up to accommodate this sort of professional development; many think a cultural shift will be required before we see widespread use of more innovative organizational technology. Many caution that as this unfolds, the focus should not be on the technologies themselves, but on the pedagogies that make them useful. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for UK Tertiary Education)
  • Online educational resources must be mobile-friendly. Today's students want to be able to learn from wherever they are with whatever device they prefer. As smartphones and tablets gain more traction in educational settings, there is a demand for online content to keep up and load fast, look high quality, and be easy to use across the growing array of mobile devices.
  • Organizations are challenged to ensure quality while engaging in the use of rapidly changing, ever-evolving technologies. As new information and new technologies are readily available, at the fingertips of learners, educational institutions must find ways to intervene and remain a part of the relationship between the technology and the student. These organisations must make wise, up-to-date decisions when investing in and implementing technologies. To do so, they must conduct extensive research and regard technologies and their potential applications from all angles. Collaborations between institutions in the exploration of emerging technology provide them with opportunities to exchange ideas, success stories, obstacles, and develop best practices. (Carried forward from the 2011 Technology Outlook for New Zealand Tertiary Education)
  • Simply staying organized and current presents a challenge in a world where information, software tools, and devices proliferate at the rate they do today. New developments in technology are exciting and their potential for improving quality of life is enticing, but it can be overwhelming to attempt to keep up with even a few of the many new tools that are released. User-created content is exploding, giving rise to information, ideas, and opinions on all sorts of interesting topics, but following even some of the hundreds of available authorities means sifting through a mountain of information on a weekly or daily basis. There is a greater need than ever for effective tools and filters for finding, interpreting, organizing, and retrieving the data that is important to us. (Carried forward from the NMC Horizon Project > 2012 HiEd Short List.)
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