Technology Research

How the 2019 Tech Landscape Maps Higher Ed Technology

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It would not be surprising if anyone reviewing the world of higher education technology ended up with a headache: companies make conflicting claims about their products, many products have overlapping functionality, and it is not always clear what different product types mean. As a result, deciding which technology solutions you should choose is more challenging than it should be.

Since 2014, we have used our Higher Education Technology Landscape (Landscape) to bring clarity to this environment by classifying technology products clearly and understandably. Today, we are pleased to share the 2019 Landscape with you digitally, with a number of changes. Here they are:

While our overall method remains the same, this year we further enforced our classification criteria to exclude services and added new segments to reflect solutions that support the teaching and learning ecosystem. Overall, we excluded four segments featured in the 2018 version—one that we will discuss in today’s Wake-Up Call— and added six, increasing the overall number of segments to 41. You can download the full landscape image by clicking below.

What’s New?

One of the trends we’ve noticed is an increased focus on developing teaching and learning ecosystems that are “future-proof.” These ecosystems are increasingly designed to address potential changes in areas like educational delivery, which includes online or in-class modalities, or to better enable educational activities, such as formal and informal learning. We’ve also noted greater adoption of the guidelines that govern these ecosystems, such as interoperability, shareability of content, and applicability for lifelong learning.

As a result, we added six new segments that enable the Landscape to reflect the range of products required to support a teaching and learning ecosystem:

  • Application Development Solutions: This segment includes platform-as-a-service and allows institutions to extend their ecosystems by building and testing applications to fill gaps not offered by solutions that support the teaching and learning ecosystem. Functionality includes developing applications, testing applications, and managing application versions.
  • Course Evaluation Solutions: These solutions help institutions leverage evaluation data to improve course design and delivery. Functionality includes collecting and managing evaluation data, developing evaluation questions, and reporting on evaluation results.
  • Curriculum Management Solutions: These solutions support the entire curriculum process, including planning, implementation, assessment, etc., enabling institutions to ensure that their teaching and learning ecosystems contain the right content for educational activities. Functionality includes the development, analysis, evaluation, and approval of curriculum.
  • Digital Credential Solutions: As evidenced by the new Digital Credentials collaboration, institutions are playing a greater role in the world of credentials and digital badges. These solutions allow institutions and vendors to create, manage, and issue digital credentials and badges. Functionality includes assessment management, curriculum mapping, credential design and storage, and reporting on credential status.
  • Identity and Access Management Solutions: As we have mentioned previously, these solutions—that identify individuals in a system and controls access to system resources—are critical in ensuring that all stakeholders can trust the ecosystem to allow them to get, develop, and share the right information, depending on their roles. Functionality includes authorizing users, managing access policies, and sharing identity information with other applications.
  • Student Journey Management Solutions: In a previous Wake-Up Call, we discussed how the paths students take through their higher education careers are like traveling on a highway—complete with roadblocks and traffic jams—and how individual technology solutions are seeking to provide support along these paths. Functionality includes providing support in the areas of academic achievement, advising, career readiness, campus life, and financial aid.

Where Did the OPMs Go?

Last but not least, a significant change in this year’s Landscape relates to online program management (OPM) providers. Based on a thorough review of all segments to ensure that they meet our inclusion criteria, we decided not to include OPM and OPM-like vendors this year.

Primarily, we recognized that OPMs didn’t meet one of our fundamental inclusion criteria: that all solutions in the Landscape must be products, not services (for example, a hammer is a product, while carpentry—a combination of activities and tools to deliver value—is a service). Although OPMs have some product-like functionality, such as video streaming and course delivery, they deploy this and other functionality as parts of an overall set of services, including enrollment services and the delivery of teaching and learning.

Does this mean we won’t be covering this area going forward? Not at all. We believe this shift will provide sharper focus on companies that are wholly product-based, such as learning management systems (LMS). Future research reports focusing on the OPM market will examine the range and variety of services that providers deliver to institutions, as well as ongoing shifts in business models.

The Bottom Line

This Wake-Up Call is only a preview of the Landscape. We will address these and other considerations in our upcoming 2019 Higher Education Technology Landscape Report. In the meantime, we hope our 2019 Landscape will provide sufficient rigor to serve as a tool to better understand the product marketplace. As always, feedback on our updated method and any questions about technology decisions, with which you may be grappling, are welcome.

New Full Update for 2019

Eduventures® 2019 Higher Education Technology Landscape (Landscape) visualizes over 300 vendors and their products, organized into over 40 separate market segments rolled up into four major categories aligned to the student lifecycle.

Throughout the year, we analyze these vendors and products and make that content available to clients. Several vendors have multiple products in their education technology portfolios. The Landscape image will also be featured in our full 2019 Landscape report later this year.

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