May 31 2013

Two Really Important Elements of Higher Education: Data and Professors

Education is evolving, but some things will never change.

The incredible advances happening in technology have given educators reason to pause and reflect on their methods of instruction. Mobile, video, social media and the cloud have affected the way students behave in class and the way professors teach. Education is evolving but a few key elements can’t be replaced.

Based on the infographic below, there are two important takeaways for educators. First, data is going to be extremely important in the future of higher education. In a recent interview with Richard Culatta, acting director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, EdTech asked what tools would move education forward. Culatta’s response about what the next few years could look like is telling:

We need to have [learning positioning systems] in the higher ed space — a learning positioning system that provides a path that's relevant to a student and his learning, shows where he's going, what he's completed along the way and where he still needs help when he gets off track. In order for that to happen, we really need to make sure that we have open, interoperable data, and students need to be the owners of their data. It's their data, and they need to be empowered by it. They need to have access to their learning data and be able to take it with them in open, interoperable formats. They need to be able to use it to make better decisions about their learning choices.

Data will be key for creating personalized learning environments for students. This leads to the second takeaway, which is that professors will be increasingly important, despite suggestions to the contrary. A study by Paul D. Umbach of Indiana University and Matthew R. Wawrzynski of Michigan State University examined the “relationship between faculty practices and student engagement.” Their findings consistently suggest that the value of professors is not diminishing:

Our findings suggest that students report higher levels of engagement and learning at institutions where faculty members use active and collaborative learning techniques, engage students in experiences, emphasize higher-order cognitive activities in the classroom, interact with students, challenge students academically, and value enriching educational experiences.

Check out the infographic below to see how professors are integrating technology into their classrooms.

Technology in Higher Education

This infographic originally appeared on