Top 10 Higher Ed Posts of 2016

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Looking back at 2016, the Transforming Higher Ed blog has covered a lot of ground — and that’s just in its inaugural year. We couldn’t have done it without a little help from our friends: guest bloggers and subject matter experts whose original posts and interviews have contributed much in the way of valuable content for our esteemed readers (you). Members of the EDUCAUSE staff also have offered their insights, and have highlighted resources to benefit the community.

Whether you’re been planning ahead for 2017 or want to take a hindsight view of recent trends and topics, the following list is a great place to start.

Here are the top 10 most-viewed posts of 2016*:

1. Student Attitudes Toward Technology in Advising

by Hoori Santikian Kalamkarian

With over 2,000 unique views, this year’s most popular post took into consideration the perspective of higher education’s lifeblood: the student. Although they represent paying customers who play a critical role in this academic ecosystem, those facing the podium haven’t always been at the center of conversation. In 2016, we witnessed a definite shift toward learners, marked by student success initiatives, user-centered design, and extensive surveys. Examining student attitudes toward technology in advising offered another dimension of arguably one of the most critical interactions toward earning a credential.

2. 5 Strategies to Implement Successful University-Wide Student Success Initiatives

by Richard Sluder

Implementing any sort of initiative at the system level brings with it a host of challenges, be they political, fiscal, structural or cultural. College and university teams aiming to launch student success initiatives need to be prepared to face these issues head-on. Chief among them are achieving stakeholder buy-in, managing expectations, iterating plans that will fit and ‘stick’, and delivering upon promises made in the early stages. This post offers strategies and concrete steps to help bring important discussions to the forefront, so that institutions can build lasting momentum around student success.

3. Digital Badges and Academic Transformation

by Veronica Diaz

Employability is finding its place in the higher ed lexicon, where in the past it perhaps played second fiddle to critical inquiry and research. Just how it is demonstrated is another story. As institutions explore digital badges and other discrete representations of skillbuilding, some curricular adjustments or redesigning may be required. What role will alternative credentials play in the shaping of higher education? They most certainly stand to shake up internal structures. We can’t predict how they’ll be received within the job market, although an ongoing dialogue with organizations may be the most promising route toward marketability.

4. 6 Implications of the Next Generation Digital Learning Environments Framework

by Malcolm Brown

We readily admit that the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) may not have the catchiest acronym; the subject matter has, however, had staying power. Since its May 2015 introduction in EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s brief Dr. Timothy McKay, discussion around what the future of a more holistic Learning Management System could involve has remained lively. ****STACKABLE?*** Bloggers have shared their perspectives, and in this post, the ELI’s Malcolm Brown offers a reflective response.

5. The Future of Learning Environments in Higher Education

by Malcolm Brown

Smartboards, lecture capture technologies, more interactive and accessible LMSs…what could the physical (or virtual) classroom of the future look like? How flexible must their designs be so that they can evolve? This post examines pioneering technologies and new configurations that could be leading examples in the years to come. An increasing emphasis on student success outcomes and greater competition among institutions is making this forward-looking focus especially timely. One thing’s for sure: this is a far cry from your grandparents’ learning experience.

6. Incubating the Next Big Idea: The University of Michigan’s Digital Innovation Greenhouse

by Kristi DePaul

Few universities actually house hotbeds of innovation on campus geared toward impacting their own services and processes. Here, the University of Michigan may serve as an exception, with its Digital Innovation Greenhouse acting as an ‘interpreneurial’ hub, generating ideas and iterations aplenty. Teams of creatives and engineers — not unlike those designing and coding to their heart’s content within a startup — are working on solving some of the thorniest problems from within. XXXXXX gave us an inside look at their operation, and shared why he loves going to work every day.

7. Infographic: ELI’s 2016 Key Issues in Teaching & Learning

by Kristi DePaul

What’s a top 10 list without an infographic? Mildly disappointing at the very least, and as such we’re thrilled the ELI’s 2016 Key Issues in Teaching & Learning made the list with nearly 900 views. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative annually seeks input from the higher education community to determine key issues in post-secondary teaching and learning. These key issues serve as the framework, or focal points, for organizational discussions and programming throughout the coming year. More than 900 community members voted in 2016 — a group spanning almost all Carnegie classifications.

8. Degree-Planning Tools Chart Individual Paths for Student Success

by Kristi DePaul

Postsecondary education is hard enough without throwing in the added obstacle of convoluted degree paths, or a wide variety of personalized navigation options. Removing such barriers has been the focus of a number of higher ed leadership teams, which have developed technological solutions that serve to benefit both first generation students and those whose families have some higher ed experience. This brief highlights recently developed tools such as Austin Peay State University’s Degree Compass (acquired by Desire2Learn) that are changing the course scheduling game — and ultimately increasing persistence and college completion rates.

9. Edtech + Academia: Two Worlds Collide?

An Interview with Eddie Maloney by Kristi DePaul

Is edtech already an academic discipline? If it’s not fully embraced as one, should it be? Whose role is it to resolve this, and how best to proceed? Could the concept of tenure be extended beyond faculty to IT staff, whose job security could incentivize a more experimental (and potentially more beneficial) approach to learning technologies? This interview with Georgetown University’s Eddie Maloney, Executive Director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) and a Professor of the practice of narrative literature and theory in the Department of English, explores these topics and more, adding further context to an Inside Higher Ed article that elicited some strong opinions from across the academic spectrum.

10. User-Centered Design for Higher Ed: Webinar Recap and Resources

by Holly Morris

User-centered design in higher education is having more than a moment; the approach, which takes into account the experiences and challenges of students, faculty and staff, is gaining traction in colleges and universities across the country. In this webinar recap, Morris, who serves as the Director of Postsecondary Models and Adoption at EDUCAUSE, offers lessons learned and best practices for those looking to institute changes to existing programs, procedures and spaces, or to build with the user in mind from outset. (It just may be the most exciting overhaul since the inception of the academic institution.)

Kristi DePaul of Founders Marketing provides editorial support and regular contributions to the Transforming Higher Ed column of EDUCAUSE Review on issues of teaching, learning, and edtech.