Technology Research

2020 Eduventures Tech Landscape: Here's What to Expect

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As we have each year since 2014, we have updated our 2020 Higher Education Technology Landscape (Landscape). In this complicated territory, our goal is to help the higher education community make more informed technology decisions. Today, we are pleased to share the 2020 Eduventures Tech Landscape with you.

This year’s Landscape, in particular, is a reflection of our time: in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has both strained our technology systems and made them more relevant than ever before. This year, we made changes to reflect the heightened demands . You can download the full Landscape image by clicking below.


Figure 1: 2020 Higher Education Technology Landscape (click to download full-size image)


The 2020 Eduventures Tech Landscape

Any large-scale, catastrophic event – hurricanes, pandemics, etc. – pressure-tests our environment, forcing us to question our readiness to respond and adapt to the challenges before us. COVID-19, in particular, has required nearly all institutions to Instantaneously deliver courses and academic support remotely, and many institutions have struggled to meet this need.

While our overall classification methodology for the Landscape has not changed, we did want to ensure that it captures some of the key challenges arising from institutional responses to COVID-19. As we noted in a previous post, even before the pandemic, we were already seeing an increased focus on building teaching and learning ecosystems that were flexible enough to address potential changes in educational delivery and support. COVID-19 has dramatically exacerbated this need.

One change we made, for example, was moving the Productivity and Collaboration Solutions segment, home to solutions like Zoom and others, from the College-Wide IT/Enterprise Backbone category to the Student Success & Instruction category. The change reflects the growing role – accelerated by the current situation - that video conferencing tools play in online and remote learning.

We also made other changes. This year, we excluded four segments featured in the 2019 version and added five, increasing the overall number of segments to 43. The five new segments that reflect the changes in the range of products required to support a flexible teaching and learning ecosystem include:

Accessibility Solutions

In a recent post, we discussed the challenge of ensuring that students with disabilities can access digital content while learning remotely. Many schools seeking to flag accessibility concerns for their faculty point them to technology that assesses whether these students can engage with existing digital content without issues. While these solutions are essential, an even better approach is to design all future digital content with these students’ needs in mind. By adding the Accessibility Solutions segment to the Landscape, we identify the products that help to both create and assess accessible digital content, such as Blackboard Ally, Adobe InDesign, and Magic EdTech’s Digital Accessibility Solutions.

Faculty Lifecycle Management Solutions

All institutions track student-level data that gives them insight into things like courses taken or assessments completed. Many, however, do not have similar insight into faculty activities like courses taught or assessments administered. When considering how a teaching and learning ecosystem should adapt to changes in modality and increases in academic advising services, this type of insight is critical. The new Faculty Lifecycle Management Solutions segment comprises solutions that help provide this insight. These solutions – Interfolio’s Faculty Information System or Watermark’s Digital Measures, for example – allow institutions to collect, store, track, analyze, and report faculty-level teaching and research data.

Institutional Effectiveness Solutions

Many higher education leaders have already begun reflecting on how effective their remote learning efforts were, and whether students performed as well as they would have in an on-campus setting. As institutions seek to learn from these efforts and explore offering online courses in the future, they will need data and metrics to establish their successes or failures. Institutional Effectiveness Solutions, such as Civitas Learning’s Impact and AEFIS’ Assessment Management System, support program development and evaluation, efficacy measurement, and ongoing program review.

Student Engagement Solutions

We often use the term “engagement” in higher education, but we rarely have a consistent definition. For some, the word simply means student outreach via text or chat functionality. For the purpose of our Landscape, we consider engagement to be less about tactical steps and more about the end goal of creating a sense of belonging for students along their journeys, whether they are remote or in-person. We added the Student Engagement Solutions segment this year to highlight solutions that empower schools to engage with students and foster a sense of belonging. Examples include Mongoose’s Cadence and the AdmitHub Platform.

Student Mobility Solutions

Students transferring between institutions is not a recent phenomenon. This process requires students to find information about transfer articulation policies and agreements, research how courses and programs map to potential degrees, and understand which comparable courses are taught at other institutions. All too often, students find themselves retaking courses or choosing the wrong programs. Student Mobility Solutions, such as CollegeSource’s Transfer Evaluation System and Concentric Sky’s Program Mapper, empower both students and institutional leaders to overcome these challenges.

The Bottom Line

This Wake-Up Call is only a preview of the 2020 Landscape. Our 2020 Higher Education Technology Landscape Report, forthcoming later this summer, will dive more deeply into the new segments, standout vendors, and how other trends are impacting the Landscape. In the meantime, we hope our 2020 Landscape will provide sufficient rigor to serve as a tool toward a better understanding of the current product marketplace.

Eduventures Principal Analyst at Encoura

Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 1PM ET/12PM CT

For higher education leaders, planning for fall is never straightforward but nothing is certain about fall 2020. The severity of the pandemic, whether campuses can re-open and under what restrictions, student appetite for remote alternatives, and the state of institutional finances are dynamic unknowns forcing schools to plan for the most pivotal moment in the academic year largely in the dark. But schools need to make decisions and they need to make them now. Higher education leaders want to understand student sentiment but students look to schools for clarity on what fall will look like.

Certainty may be in short supply but sharing ideas and perspectives can only help. Join us for a conversation with Neumann University President Chris Domes, Simmons University President Helen Drinan, Charter Oak State College President Ed Klonoski, and Eduventures Chief Research Officer Richard Garrett. These institutions have worked hard to stand up remote instruction over the past two months (Charter Oak is an online institution) and are now piecing together fall plans that must be realistic, sustainable and appealing to students, faculty and staff.

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