What's in store for 2015?

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Welcome to the new year and our brand new blog!

If you're interested in innovative ways to deliver courses, online or blended, or simply in how to improve learning in HE,€“ this is for you. In the spirit of the New Year, our resolution is to keep this blog current and relevant to keep you reading.

So, what can we expect in 2015?

Rather than future-gazing about wearable tech and Artificial Intelligence, a look back at the trends in 2014 in HE UK is likely to illuminate the next 12 months. There's a lot to feel positive about, such as the fact that in 2014 UK home undergraduate numbers recovered by 8%, or 27,000 more than 2012-13. Also, student satisfaction on campus is at a 10-year high.

With students investing in degrees, there's likely to be more focus on employability as well as on quality, and a movement toward competency-based education. Students are changing in other ways, too - they're growing up digital and expect learning to be digital. According to one survey, 92% said they prefer digital research. With most of us owning a smartphone, we can now access whole libraries (and research centres) in our pockets, so digital literacy is a key skill -€“ and that means for educators, too.

UK degrees are attractive internationally. The UK punches above its weight (or size) in terms of attracting international students, with 427,686 coming here last year, second only to the US's 740,482. And a larger number are taking UK degrees from their home country, without stepping foot in the UK -€“ so-called "transnational" students.

How well do you know your students?

Try this short quiz to see how well you know the people in your classrooms (answers at the end of this blog post):

1 - The predominant group of overseas students coming to the UK is:

A - Chinese
B - Malaysian
C - Nigerian
D - Indian

2 - The total number of "transnational" students is:

A - just over 200,000
B - just under 400,000
C - just under 600,000

3 - In contrast to 14% of over-65s, how many 16- to 24-year-olds own a smartphone?

A - over 40%
B - over 60%
C - over 80%

Enabling learning through technology

With students no longer bound by geographies, and increasingly digitally literate, there's a shift in how we teach and learn. It's no surprise then that online offerings by UK universities are growing (510 in 2014). These trends mean that we're catering for diverse groups, providing support for English skills, and offering virtual delivery and teaching with learning technology.

How we view learning technology is maturing. It's not an end in itself, but a tool to enable learning. There's more to flipped classrooms than posting lecture recordings online. Rather than technology replicating the worst of education, it can and should facilitate the best of what we know about learning from research, such as how to use pacing to help learning, how to engage students, how to use social and collaborative methods, and how to use data to personalise learning for individuals.

So, what's in store for 2015?

For one thing, a renewed focus on teaching and learning in a digital age, and that's what this blog will focus on.

Watch this space!

- Diana Foster -€“ Consultant Learning Designer


1 - The predominant group of overseas students coming to the UK are Chinese. (A)

2 - The number of "transnational" students in total is just under 600, 000 (598,925) (C)

3 - Over 80% -“ in fact, 88% of 16-24s own a smartphone (C)

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