Throughout higher education in 2013 we heard a great deal about MOOCs, social media, and government shutdowns. Now that we’ve started a bright new year, we’re all wondering what is on the horizon. What developments and technologies will change higher education for good? What programs will improve security, make education more easily accessible, or help with studying? We can never know for sure, but here are a few trends we foresee making headlines in 2014.

  • One of the biggest waves of the future has been brought on by the Obama administration asking colleges to shorten our idea of the standard four-year college education. Competency-based learning, a strategy where test scores—as opposed to time in class—determine mastery, and therefore allows students to move through course material at their own pace.
  • State-of-the-art collaborative learning spaces recently started appearing, but for the right budget, they’re poised to make it big in 2014. Newer technologies including multiple screens, wireless presentation systems, and live streaming analyses systems are a big draw for schools looking to provide the most up-to-date learning environments.
  • The concept of prior learning assessments has been around for decades, but governments and national education planners have only recently recognized how valuable the strategy could prove to be. By giving college students credit for outside learning experiences—using everything from military experience to real-world job training—and testing competency through placement tests, higher education suddenly becomes less repetitive and more focused.
  • As computers seemed to take over from humans in the era of MOOCs, professor backlash and extremely low completion rates made the trend falter in 2013. But don’t think the MOOC has died. In 2014, Udacity and other companies are releasing a “MOOC 2.0,” utilizing increased interaction with live mentors and helpers. Along with projects that require more human feedback and grading, providers believe these new elements will lead to better information retainment and a higher course completion rate.

The idea of a one-size-fits-all education will be phased out as more minorities, matriculated students, military veterans, and part-time students choose to get their college education. America’s ever-changing demographic mean professors and administrators alike need to adapt teaching and learning methods. And as always, technology in 2014 will play an increasingly important role in guaranteeing that the next generation of college-educated students are at the top of their game.