As we move into 2024, the higher education landscape continues to evolve, driven by technological advancements, shifting demographics, and a deeper understanding of pedagogical strategies. INTERACT123 has identified three key considerations moving into the new year: (a) digital integration, (b) inclusive and equitable education, and (c) wellbeing of students.
One of the top considerations for educators in this new year is the integration of digital tools that support teaching and learning, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI) and generative AI. Harnessing AI and generative AI in higher education is essential for enhancing teaching and learning; enabling educators to provide students with adaptative, interactive, and personalized educational experiences. Digital literacy is critical for graduates competing in a dynamic and ever-advancing global economy. Therefore, educators must be able to integrate current and emerging technologies into teaching and assessment to enhance the learning experience for students in alignment with real-world contexts. Educators must also be able to teach across synchronous and asynchronous modalities to provide flexibility while maintaining quality, active engagement, and meaningful participation.
As the student population becomes increasingly diverse and neurodiverse, educators must foster an environment that accommodates and celebrates this diversity. Therefore, another top consideration is the emphasis on inclusive and equitable education. The integration of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into course design, teaching, and assessment is essential to supporting all learners by reducing barriers to learning and acknowledging variability in learner background knowledge and experience. The UDL framework, which supports multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression, enriches the learning environment to support deeper learning, mastery, and academic success.
Student mental health awareness has continued to gain national attention with higher education institutions recognizing the impact of wellbeing on academic performance. As increasing numbers of courses move online to support student demand, it is essential that course designers and faculty consider the credit hour and the balance between content, workload, and cognitive load. It is easy to develop robust online courses with extensive content, including but not limited to, videos, readings, live sessions, discussion boards, group work, and more. Consideration must be given to how much time is required of students, including time for studying, researching, writing, collaboration, and reflection. Course design and teaching must consider the wellbeing of students and the Goldilocks Principle. How much is too little, too much, or just right in alignment with the credit hour and research on the human learning process. The future of higher education needs educators who are able to create dynamic, supportive, flexible, and technologically enriched experiences that prepare students for a complex and rapidly changing workforce.