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Part 2: Top edtech trends in 2023 and the ASU example

The world of technology is one of constant change. From new innovations uncovering shifted dynamics to shaping human interactions, technology is a disruptive force with the ability to both enhance and, on occasion, challenge the ways we learn, work and thrive.

As new technologies make their debut in higher education, the dynamics in which we connect with our community are constantly shifting, creating a space for responsible innovation. 

“The world, and by extension ASU learners, are shaped by technologies like those represented here by examples of our work,” shared Lev Gonick, chief information officer at ASU.

Last week, we shared five trends poised to lead edtech in 2023 as illuminated by Fierce Education and showcased the ASU example, along with insights from Gonick. 

We continue part-two of the story with the four more trends shaping the university experience, as well as one unique to ASU Enterprise Technology.

Trend #6 - Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of previously unconnected devices, processes and services to the web and each other. This network of connectedness is often described as “smart,” and aligns with ASU’s high priority to play a leading role in cultivating smart campuses, cities and regions. 

“The university has risen as a hotbed of innovation, research and experimentation,” shares Gonick in response to the power of partnerships. “Our ability to instrument our campuses' digital infrastructure to support engagement, personalization of learning journeys and public safety are all extensible to meet the needs and priorities of our neighbors.”

At ASU Enterprise Technology, two notable partnerships are helping us advance this work. The Cox Connected Environments Collaboratory tests multiple types of networks to better connect the ASU campus and beyond. Such networks include Bluetooth 5, LoRA (Long Range), CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) and Cox Optical Internet. 

And the Smart City Cloud Innovation Center, powered by AWS, is helping to lead our efforts to advance the use of smart technology from campus to the community. Known as the CIC, the team focuses on using emerging smart technology for local non-profits and municipalities. 


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Trend #7 - Blockchain

Today, much of the national discussions around blockchain center on cryptocurrencies. However, this breakthrough technology creates new opportunities to reimagine credential management for the learner, institutions and organizations.

Two initiatives are underway at ASU Enterprise Technology to bring credentials into the 21st century using distributed technology, including blockchain. The first focuses on creating a network – both digital infrastructure and community – to build a validated and immutable repository of learning.

To do so, the Trusted Learner Network is working to reimagine the traditional digital credential model by placing learners and their data at the center. 

Utilizing distributed, web 3.0 semantic technologies, the Trusted Learner Network creates a durable, immutable ledger of learning that allows learners to easily view and manage their credentials. 

And in order for learners to capture their diverse records of learning as verified credentials, they need a digital wallet. Enter ASU Pocket.

The digital wallet and portfolio is being designed and developed by teams at Enterprise Technology. Learners will be able to capture evidence of their learning inside their wallet and connect their skills to future jobs.

Both ASU Pocket and the TLN were featured in the 2023 SmartReport Ecosystem Map, released by iDatafy; the map (included above) reflects a current landscape of digital wallet and learner educational records (LER).

Trend #8 - Cloud computing

Over the past few years, ASU has embarked on a massive undertaking to become a fully cloud-based infrastructure. 

Cloud computing offers the storage of large datasets at significantly faster speeds with lower costs. That matters in a world that is increasingly moving online, where the amount of data that is available to capture and store continues to grow exponentially.

The cloud allows for a flexible and accessible digital infrastructure capable of evolving to the demands of our community. One such example involves a collaboration with the Arizona Board of Regents and the AZTransfer process for all state schools.

Trend #9 - Gamification

In recent years, the development of an interactive, gamified learning community has gained momentum on campus among learners of all backgrounds.

Now, the combination of Sun Devil Rewards, previously a standalone app, with the ASU Mobile App has integrated the playful approach with other helpful, informative services and resources. Creating a one-stop-shop for students to connect, navigate campus and more while accumulating Pitchfork points to become eligible for big prizes.

Trend #10 - Digital equity

In recent years, digital equity has risen to the national agenda. And while this was not listed in the edtech trends article referenced above, it has surfaced as a unique opportunity for universities to play a critical role in advancing digital inclusion.

“In realizing the aspirations set forth by our Charter, the university remains committed to increasing access, excellence and impact for all those we serve – and we know that technology plays a critical role in this mission.” shares Gonick. “As such, it is imperative that all have access to reliable, high-speed internet to fully participate in the ways we work, learn and live online.”

A recent $34.6 million investment in ASU and its collaborators from Maricopa County to narrow the digital divide is proof of the importance of this work. The funding will be used to advance broadband, community support, equipment and training across Maricopa County, which includes the metro Phoenix area. Together, we will bring reliable, high-speed internet access to under and unserved communities. 

This funding makes ASU home to the largest university-led digital equity initiative in the country.

This exploration of the intersection of higher education and technology is a small window into the consistent changes that we will face and shepherd here at ASU Enterprise Technology.

Check out part 1 of this series, covering other top edtech trends of 2023.