"Social and economic pressures are forcing senior education leaders to rethink business models and consider a range of new technologies to bring down the cost of administering education institutions and scale the business," Lowendahl says.

"An increasing number of technical innovations and technology trends are emerging from within the industry, but most will emerge outside the industry, driven by major forces such as digital business and the consumerisation and industrialisation of IT."

Gartner has identified what it says are "the top 10 strategic technologies for the education industry in 2015," andhas made recommendations to education CIOs and IT leaders regarding adoption and benefits.

"It is not a list of what education CIOs spend the most time or money on; rather it is a list of strategic technologies that Gartner recommends education CIO should have a plan for in 2015," Gartner says.

The 10 are:

  • Adaptive learning
  • Adaptive E-textbooks
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Data analytics
  • Sourcing strategies
  • Exostructure
  • Open microcredentials
  • Digital assessment
  • Mobile
  • Social Learning
Some are well known to mainstream IT. Others are rather more esoteric. Adaptive learning, Gartner explains, is a concept that traces its roots back to at least the 1950s, but the ability to capture learner data through online learning has provided a breakthrough.

"True adaptive learning is a type of crowdsourcing and big data collection. The real value of adaptive learning lies in the metadata attached to each learning 'morsel', which must then be combined with enough empirical data of students trying to master the topic to allow personalised learning. It is extremely valuable in designing the pedagogy of the future."

Exostructure "means acquiring the critical capability of interoperability as a deliberate strategy to integrate the increasing numbers of partnerships, tools and services in the education ecosystem" Gartner says.

"When done right, an exostructure approach enables institutions to leverage services from the cloud, rather than having to bring them inside the campus walls. Enabled by standards, it can allow the institution to adapt faster."With the increasing interdependencies in the education ecosystem, Gartner sees exostructure rising in importance for at least the next decade. "The future belongs to exostructure rather than to infrastructure."

For education institutions, Gartner says the use of open microcredentials is a low-cost, high-value, technology-based capability that will provide more value and motivation to students. "Open microcredentials is still relatively immature as a technology, but it is gaining traction in the education community." Gartner sees it as a clear strategic technology with a relatively small investment involved, thereby making it a low-hanging fruit with good ROI.

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