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The Most Significant Technological Advances in Education for 2015

Technology has long been disrupting and modifying the education space. But what kinds of tools are most likely to make an impact on us this year?

The technological advances that change the way we learn do so through a variety of methods. They may improve our understanding of the learning process, facilitate our access to content, increase the retention of learners by improving the educational experience, or address systemic inequalities by making learning affordable.

Here are some technological trends that will do this, and more, in 2015:

BIG DATA

Data

The advent of big data enables us to track student behavior and gather other relevant information that will enhance our understanding of how people learn, what keeps them engaged, what helps them retain information, and how we can improve outcomes.

In the best case scenario, these tools will be applied to improving the teaching and learning experience. There are, of course, privacy and security concerns relating to the capture, aggregation, and potential misuse of data. The industry will need to address the “Big Brother” aspect of Big Data head-on, and act transparently with respect to the use of the information and judiciously with respect to its security.

Since its start, Noodle has been a leader in evaluating the role big data can play in education, attending the White House's Education Datapalooza 2012.

CLOUD COMPUTING

Cloud Computing

Cloud-based learning platforms represent a significant advance in technology’s potential to improve access to content, instruction, and collaboration. They provide users with the ability to access material easily and foster connections between and among students, teachers, and institutions. These platforms also have the power to create truly global education communities and facilitate groundbreaking research.

Many new learning management systems (LMS) used by teachers now use cloud computing. Follow this link for the full list of the top 25 LMS of 2014.

MOBLILE LEARNING

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning provides “anytime, anywhere” access to content and community,as well as allows for contextual and supplemental learning at given locations (e.g., downloading a museum’s app). It literally meets students wherever their phones go. Students of all generations will be able to fit their education to their lifestyle, and the convenience and affordability of mobile devices will facilitate access for all. Ironically, a person’s physical location may become a significant part of the enhanced mobile learning experience. For example, a student could participate in an art history class on her phone while visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

See Noodle's collection of reviews of educational apps for effective mobile learning on variety of subjects.

GAMIFICATION

Gamification

The emergence of gamified learning and the application of gaming technologies, such as virtual reality for educational content, will have a significant impact on how people learn. Studies have shown that education is most effective, with respect to understanding and retention, when the learner is engaged in doing, applying what she has learned, and having fun, as is the case with simulations.

Universities are increasingly adopting virtual reality technologies in a variety of ways, from creating school tours for international students to offering difficult-to-deliver lab instruction, like human dissections, in medical schools. Who knew that a generation of young gamers could become the guardians of our future?

Check out our infographic about educational video games to understand better their use and effectivness.

PERSONALIZATION

Personalization

This is the holy grail of online education, in which technology and design (information architecture, user interface, and so on) combine to create a learning experience tailored to the individual needs of a student. It promises to make education more engaging, improve outcomes, and create efficiencies in educational ecosystems.

Personalized learning that allows for differentiated instruction will have a significant impact in learning environments where there are students with varying degrees of knowledge or skills, such as public school classrooms. Personalized learning can serve as a powerful tool for teachers and students faced with overcrowding, and in so doing, begin to address inequalities between poorer and more affluent school districts.

Learn more about how flipped classrooms incorporate personalized learning into everyday education.

DECONSTRUCTION OR UNBUNDLING OF CONTENT

Deconstruction or Unbundling of Content

The delivery of nano-degrees based on specific work skills or the chunking of master’s programs are examples of this technological advance. Deconstruction will change the economics of education and the way we think about learning by allowing students to access the information they need to progress or to find employment without having to consume content that is not immediately relevant to them. It presupposes a more practical approach to higher education, in response to the needs of the largest population of students saddled with debt.

This deconstructive approach, however, raises concerns for many who believe in the value of a well-rounded, traditional liberal arts education, with its exposure to a broad range of subjects and grounding in the development of “higher level” skills, such as critical thinking and independent analyses. That said, unbundling of content has the potential to challenge the culture of established educational institutions as the sole providers of valuable and legitimate education and as the gatekeepers to rewarding employment.

NOODLE Education A-Z, Jane Hatterer



The Facts about Windows Server 2003 End of Support

You may remember the buzz last year when Microsoft pulled the plug on its support of Windows XP. Less publicized, but perhaps even more critical, is the end of support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. That is scheduled for July 14, 2015. Many businesses may be unaware, but there’s a good chance their most important computers are running on this soon-to-be-outdated operating system. They may be equally unaware that hanging on to Windows Server 2003 after Microsoft ends support in July will cost them plenty and could put their business at risk.

 

The Price of Inactivity

If you elect to remain using Windows Server 2003 after support ends, you might see a costly impact on your organization’s bottom line. There are a number of good reasons not to be running a defunct operating system once support has ended.

Compliance – Depending on the nature of your business, you may be under legal obligation to meet industry-wide compliance standards and regulations. After Windows Server 2003 support ceases, your organization will likely fail to meet these requirements. This could generate an increase in operating costs due to penalties and high transaction fees. It could potentially result in lost customers too.

Security – When bug fixes and security patches stop being applied to Windows Server 2003, your system will be exposed to security threats as new vulnerabilities go unaddressed. To continue operating an unsupported system, you will need to spend considerable sums on advanced firewalls, intrusion detection systems and other expensive security measures.

Maintenance Costs – In addition to the cost of protecting unsupported servers, your business will have to shoulder the increasing costs of hardware maintenance. Some estimates place the cost of custom support for servers running Windows Server 2003 after July 2015 in the region of $1,500 per server, per year.

Hardware/Software Compatibility – New software releases and hardware devices that arrive after Windows Server 2003 support has ended are unlikely to be compatible with the retired platform. If you continue to run with Windows Server 2003, future applications will be off limits to your business and you won’t be able to take advantage of many new hardware developments either.

Where Do You Go From Here?

There’s little benefit to be had from holding on to legacy servers. Now is the time to get busy with your migration strategy. Fortunately, a number of options exist for organizations looking to transition their data from Windows Server 2003, including upgrading to a newer, supported version of Windows Server such as 2008 or 2012, or migrating your data to a cloud-based platform.

Transitioning to the Cloud

One great advantage of cloud computing is that you can quickly, easily and inexpensively get access to the resources and data storage volumes that you need, when you need them. The price of business success can sometimes be higher than anticipated, especially if you outgrow your on-premises hardware capabilities. When you put your data in the cloud, scaling up generally entails little more than an incremental increase in hosting fees, sparing your capital expenditure budget.

Add the peace of mind that comes with multiple layers of world-class security (cloud providers’ existence depends on affording customers the best in data protection) and it’s not so hard to see why the demise of Windows Server 2003 is, for many enterprises, an opportunity to switch from on-premises to hosted cloud computing solutions.