It’s only been 10 years since the release of the first iPhone, and yet it seems centuries of upgrades have already come to pass. From the first mainstream-adopted touchscreen to now Face ID phone unlocking, Apple has never lost our attention. The same goes with the integration of smartphones in every aspect of our daily routines, to the point that we’ve essentially added an extra appendage. The second we’re uncertain about a particular fact or news event, we almost unconsciously look to our phones for the answer. It’s this sort of streamlining between the real and digital worlds that doesn’t just suggest the possibilities for educational technology but practically necessitates it.

That’s why Gartner, an international research and advisory company, created its Hype Cycle model, a standard adoption model that plots out the typical trajectory of innovation, regardless of its industry, from when it’s first introduced all the way to when it becomes everyday technology. For Part Two of our Hype Cycle series, we’ll examine Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for Education by giving an overview of a promising technology from each of the five phases of the Hype Cycle.

For clarification of each Hype Cycle phase, check out our Gartner intro blog.

Innovation Trigger

Competency-Based Education Platforms (5-10 years)

The concept of competency-based education  ( has been discussed since the 1960s–that, for any given subject course, students could embark upon individualized learning paths that satisfy universal standards through real-life demonstrations and projects. With learning management systems ( becoming more sophisticated in the past couple years, the increasing push for personalized learning at the university level has given rise to competency-based education platforms. National University is currently running an experimental project in hopes of combining a CBE platform with adaptive learning and predictive analytics. The idea here is that, not only can a student determines his or her own learning path, but the software platform itself can help to cater toward the student’s abilities, while also leveraging university-level data that can help with student retention.

Peak of Inflated Expectations

Institutional Analytics (2-5 years)

At the university level, two emergent forms of analytics are taking hold: learning analytics and institutional analytics. The former is student-side, a metrics-based approach to the student experience, while the latter is all about the business of a running a college or university. This involves data-driven optimization of departments like financial aid, accounting, human resources, but also cross-institutional concerns like institutional research and effectiveness, as well as finance. Educause, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering and promoting edtech, suggests a number of areas are already ripe for institutional analytics:

  • Job applications
  • Bursar’s cashiering
  • Time and attendance
  • Document management
  • Data warehousing
  • Event calendar
  • Event management
  • User systems asset management
  • User system configuration management
  • Student housing
  • Parking
  • Alumni online community software
  • Portal systems

Trough of Disillusionment

Big Data in Education (5-10 years)

Here’s where the aforementioned competency-based education platforms and institutional analytics must begin–all of the raw data describing every aspect of the student and professor experience, as well as university-wide administration, finance, and operation. But this approach is not without its detractors. Though Educause is a firm supporter, the nonprofit still recognizes the major hindrances to Big Data in education:

  • The education sector “lacks much of the computational infrastructure, tools, and human capacity required for effective collection, cleaning, analysis, and distribution of large datasets.”
  • “In collecting and analyzing student data, colleges and universities face privacy, safety, and security challenges not found in many scientific disciplines.”
  • “Higher education is also concerned with long-term goals—such as employability, critical thinking, and a healthy civic life. Since it is difficult to measure these outcomes, particularly in short-term studies, those of us in higher education often rely on theoretical and substantive arguments for shorter-term proxies.”

Slope of Enlightenment

Digital Preservation of Research Data (2-5 years)

According to the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, “Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change.” The concept itself is extremely complex, so here are some of the major items from a comprehensive list of different types of digital preservation strategies:


  • Refreshing – copying between same media form (i.e., copying from an old CD-RW to a new CD-RW)
  • Durable/Persistent Media – new forms of hard copy media that last much longer than traditional materials (i.e., gold CDs)
  • Technology Preservation – preserving the actual operating system, software, etc.
  • Digital Archaeology – rescuing content from damaged media or obsolete hardware


Plateau of Productivity

Virtual Worlds (> 2 years)

Whether it’s procedure simulation in medical education, CAD-integrated simulations with engineering students, a digital field trip to Romeo and Juliet’s Verona for Literature majors, virtual reality obviously holds a lot of upside for higher education. Google has already offered its field-trip simulator Expeditions to classrooms for free in effort to introduce VR learning as a vital supplement to education, rather than just a flashy gimmick. As more and more universities offer online learning modules, students will be able to combine the best of real-world and distance learning through self-paced and archived lesson plans and demonstrations.

At the Heart of an Edtech Hub

Located in the higher education innovation ecosystem of Wilmington, NC, tekMountain has emerged as one of the nation’s most promising innovation and entrepreneurial centers. Collaboration has always been one of the driving forces behind our mission to promote and influence the spread of game-changing tech in higher education, and we just happen to share a city with UNCW and its Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. And on throughout the southeastern US and into the rest of the country, we continue to connect the brightest minds with the resources they need to revolutionize the classroom.

If you’d like to learn more about which of the latest tech best serves your educational institution or business, contact tekMountain today.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesBill DiNome and Beth Roddy with lead writer Zach Cioffi.

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