Each year, the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE work together to identify the most influential trends in the world of educational technology. The NMC Horizon Report collects and explores those trends. The goal of the report is to predict which technologies and trends will most shape education in the next five years, and then educate readers on what’s happening now and what’s to come in each of those categories.
Based on the insights of the 56 experts they consulted, the organizations picked out six trends, six technologies, and six challenges that they expect will be the most important to educators in the near future. While you can download the full 56-page report to view all the trends they explored, one of the six top trends they named was the “Growing Focus on Measuring Learning.”
The report states that, “The emerging science of learning analytics is providing the statistical and data mining tools to recognize challenges early, improve student outcomes, and personalize the learning experience.” That all sounds a little familiar.
How Assessment Data Drives Better Learning Outcomes
Many ExamSoft clients have already learned just how valuable assessment data can be. Technology that allows educators to better measure student learning gives both teachers and students more power. They can:
• Curriculum revision based on student need.
• Providing more useful feedback to students to help them focus their study efforts in the areas they’re weakest in.
• Map exam questions and analytics to learning goals for the course, including those relevant to accreditation standards and licensing exams.
• Help identify students that are struggling enough in advance to step in and help (boosting retention rates).
• Collect data on individual students’ performance longitudinally to enable educators to enable students to make self-directed learning decisions and inform programs on overall progress.
Beyond the student level, program administrators can also take a macro-level view of the data to help shape the larger institution or program curriculum and make informed decisions about what faculty to hire, what subjects to offer more courses in, how to save money, and other higher-level ways to serve students better.
What the NMC Report Says About It
The NMC report makes a number of additional valuable points about the trend:
• They quote a report from the National Institute of Learning Outcomes and Assessment that found that 84% of schools have adopted stated learning outcomes for their students, often due to pressures from accreditation and government entities.
• A number of examples are provided detailing pilot programs schools have launched that embrace better learning analytics, many of which involve branching more into e-learning which provides more opportunities to collect data.
• The growth in data collection is accompanied by concerns about privacy and ethics. The report also addresses policies some schools are developing to ensure that the way learning analytics are collected and used don’t cross any lines that would make students uncomfortable.
Data is making huge changes in the business world; it’s only natural that higher education start taking advantage of how this valuable information can help guide decision-making in education as well. The data that institutions collect through smart, strategic embedded assessment can help educators continually improve throughout the course of a year and in years to come.