Information Technology Trends in Higher Education: A Literature Review

I’ve recently had the opportunity to read and review several published studies, reports and articles regarding Information Technology trends in higher education. I would like to share my findings in this literature review so that we may successfully identify patterns that will point to disruptive innovation opportunities in our institution. As you may know, there is a plethora of resources available which explore this topic but I have focused this review mainly on the information provided in the 2013-2015 NMC Horizon reports, Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report and the ECAR studies dated from 2012- 2014. Also, I will reference a few articles that I found from various other sources that define other technology trends, or echo those previously stated in the above reports and studies, that we should be mindful of. In addition to technology trends, I will share information regarding critical challenges and upcoming technologies to watch.

To begin, I believe one of the biggest trends is the proliferation of mobile devices and how they might be used to enhance teaching and learning. Meeker’s Internet Trends Report states that the cost for smartphones are decreasing and that 30% of mobile users are smartphone users. Mobile devices take up 25% of all web usage; mobile data traffic is increasing (2014). The ECAR study from 2014 stated that more students own mobile devices than ever before and that mobile device ownership continues to increase. This matches up with some of the predictions made in the Horizon reports from 2013 and 2014 where they specify BYOD and tablet computing as some of the technologies to watch for in the coming years. Other mobile devices, specifically wearable technology, were noted as well.

Although mobile use is increasing, few instructors are creating assignments that incorporate this technology. Many believe it is distracting and a good many ban or discourage it’s use. Ronald Yaros specializes in mobile tech in higher-ed. He conducted an experiment and found that iPads, if used correctly, are not distracting in the higher education setting (Contributor, 2014).

Even though there may be this data supporting the fact it isn’t distracting, it is still a challenge presented in the Horizon report that I feel is linked to digital literacy or the lack there of. Faculty in general have a low digital fluency and are not provided with the training needed to successfully integrate these new technologies into their teaching, especially when it comes to mobile technologies. It’s imperative that we strive to improve the overall digital literacy of our faculty as well as provide better digital literacy support for our students.

Another significant trend is the use of digital badges in connection with informal learning experiences. Rhea Kelly interviewed Josh Baron, senior academic technology officer at Marist College and he points out that we are starting to see some examples of badges replacing or supplementing formal credentials (2015). He gives examples of partnerships between LinkedIn and some of the major MOOC providers in which digital badges appear on profiles of those that have successfully completed a MOOC. MOOCs themselves are seen as alternatives to a traditional university, and perhaps a university’s biggest competition when it comes to new models of education as described in multiple Horizon reports.

The Horizon report also successfully predicted the popularity of the flipped classroom, the integration of online, hybrid and collaborative learning environments as well as blended learning. The ECAR study from 2014 presented results that showed students feel they learn best with a blend of online and face-to-face work. 72% of students said that they preferred courses with at least some online components for learning.

Two more interesting trends that I’ve discovered are redesigning learning spaces and Open Educational Resources (OER). Classrooms should be reinvented, learning spaces redesigned to facilitate active learning and collaborative activities among students. Baron sees a growing need and interest in applying some of these design concepts to the online spaces that we deploy on a regular basis (2015). Garrett explains that active learning pedagogies are best facilitated by fusing technology with classroom elements such as furnishings, lighting, and writing surfaces (2014). He believes that creating these learning spaces are essential for preparing students for today’s marketplace. An example could be a simulation lab or other space that resembles real-world work or social environments. OER can be digital content, course materials, textbooks, videos, etc. I gather from the 2014 Horizon report that there is little awareness of OER and it’s use in the classroom. OER has many benefits that include making education more affordable for students.

In summary, we should continue to monitor future Horizon reports, ECAR studies, and Meeker’s Internet Trends so that we can identify IT trends, challenges and opportunities for Lamar University. I recommend we investigate and research these trends further and see how they can be integrated into our organization, specifically mobile learning in conjunction with BYOD. We should begin to provide new professional development and training opportunities for faculty that focuses on mobile learning in academics and how to integrate those devices into their curriculum creatively, improve their digital literacy using mobile devices in academics and facilitate innovation in regards to mobile learning in the classroom. It would be beneficial to look to other universities that have adopted mobile learning/BYOD initiatives and determine how we can mirror their successes in our own institution.


Contributor. (April 9, 2014) 5 Technology Trends Poised to Rock Higher Education. Retrieved from

Dahlstrom, E. & Bichsel, J. (October 30, 2014). 2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies. Retrieved from

Dahlstrom, E., Walker, J.D., Dziuban, C., Morgan, G. (September 16, 2013). ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013. Retrieved from

Dahlstrom, E. (September 17, 2012). ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012. Retrieved from

Garrett, P.B. (October 14, 2014) The Evolving Classroom: Creating Experiential Learning Spaces Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Kelly, R. (January 22, 2015). 9 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2015. Retrieved from

Meeker, M. (May 28, 2014). Internet Trends 2014 – Code Conference. Retrieved from


Hello! I am currently an eLearning Support Specialist at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I just completed the Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar to earn my M. Ed. degree. Thank you for visiting my site!

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Posted in Disruptive Innovation in Education
5 comments on “Information Technology Trends in Higher Education: A Literature Review
  1. […] direction with mobile learning because this is one of the top trends identified when completing my literature review.  I was also able to review several case studies of other universities that have implemented […]


  2. […] I did plenty of research and wrote two literature reviews in order to share the facts I learned: Information Technology Trends in Higher Education: A Literature Review and A Mobile Learning Literature Review. The research helped me make informed decisions on what […]


  3. […] I had to take some time to research current technology trends in higher education. My research and literature review helped me realize that mobile learning was the best choice because mobile device ownership is high […]


  4. […] I had to take some time to research current technology trends in higher education. My research and literature review helped me realize that mobile learning was the best choice because mobile device ownership is high […]


  5. […] I could use as a catalyst for change in my organization. After completing research and writing a literature review, I proposed a mobile learning initiative which would serve as the core of my innovation plan. […]


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