Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education

Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education aligns the role of technology serving the needs of a diverse group of students seeking access to high-quality postsecondary learning experiences.

Office of Technology Education
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
U.S. Department of Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

This supplement is as a result of the U.S. Department of Education (ED),Office of Technology Education’s (OET), 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP), which envisions transformational learning facilitated by the incorporated use of technology throughout the Nation’s education systems.  

The five core sections that were highlighted in the 2016 NETP: learning, teaching, leadership, assessment, and infrastructure, are examined and aligned with themes of lifelong learning, equity and accessibility to support NETP’s assertion that “technology must serve the needs of a diverse group of students seeking access to high-quality postsecondary learning experiences”. Specific focus is on students from diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds; students with disabilities; first generation students and employed or underemployed individuals with aspirations of obtaining a postsecondary credential.

Benefits and Uses

Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education is a presentation of a vision and action plan in response to the urgent national priority which calls for postsecondary success for Americans.  It describes specific actions Stakeholders can take to ensure higher education’s continued innovations and improvements, while providing opportunities for the personal growth and prosperity of every student.  The ideology that technology opens doors for anytime, anywhere learning allows employers, post-secondary institutions, existing and new providers to be accessible and offer flexible educational and work experiences.  

 This supplement explores and discusses varied ways technology can enable “system-wide and broader ecosystem applications of collaborative solutions to the core challenges”, as well as highlights examples of innovative programs and institutions that are currently involved in this work.  Stakeholders looking for ideas and resources to support and innovate through the use of technology will benefit from the descriptive information written in the supplement. The “examples, case studies, resources and definitions that illustrates the discussion in the text” will guide innovative ideas for change in the postsecondary and nontraditional educational arenas. 


Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education is a supplement of the US Department of Education (ED),Office of Technology Education’s (OET), 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP), which envisions transformational learning facilitated by the incorporated use of technology throughout the Nation’s education systems. The following synopsis of chapters one through five provides pivotal overviews of its content and envisions how the National Technology Plan aligns with the field of not only postsecondary education, but also with the field of Adult Literacy.

Chapter One, What is higher Ed? A Student Prospectus addresses the main topics of the 2016 NETP through the lens of Postsecondary education (teaching, learning, and assessment) and discusses the Reimaging of Education.  What does education look like under the broader lens of the 21st Century’s changes and challenges? Why is there, more so now than ever, a need for increased access, affordability and equity as education fulfills its promise of being a “great equalizer”, and most importantly, how does technology bridge the divide?  Subtopics discussed are the “New Normal Students” and their impact on education, and A Student Centered Higher Education Ecosystem and what opportunities and digital infrastructures may be needed to retain and engage the new normal postsecondary student. This chapter also provides deliberate examples of Design Principles for a Student Centered Higher Education Eco System as it explores The Role of Technology in Designing a Student Centered Approach to Higher Education.

Chapter Two, Transforming Our Ecosystem: Learning, Teaching and Assessment, section onediscusses the transformation of the current ecosystem in higher education.  The first section explores Engaging and Empowering Learning through Technology and how it affects the learner and the learning environment.  The second topic, Technology –Enabled Learning in Action provides transformational learning examples that highlights ways that technology can improve and enhance learning in the informal and formal educational settings. The third topic provided, Recommendations, provides detailed explanations of why it is necessary for technology to reach its full potential to engage and empower learning. Embedded in this section are specific guided recommendationsalong a diverse pathway of topics influenced by technology for the list of educators and professionals that impact postsecondary and nontraditional adult education and training programs.

Section two explores and provides salient examples of the Role of Instructors in Technology-Supported Learning Environments.  The second subtopic, Technology –Enabled Teaching In Action provides tips, tools and guidance on effective incorporation and use of technology in postsecondary and nontraditional educational institutions. The third topic provides in examples and depth insight through a list of ways that Technology Can elevate the Practice of Teaching in Higher Education. The topic hosts a list of Recommendations for practitioners and industry professionals.

Section three explores Assessments Enabled by Technology and envisions the collaboration of the higher ed community to develop “authentic assessments that enable measurement of student learning and competency attainment”. It explores and provides examples of Technology- Enabled Assessments in Action, as well as provides direction on The Future of Technology Enabled Assessment and offers Recommendations to 1. Promote Excellence in Assessment Practice, 2. Transform Assessment through Data and 3. Develop Collaborative Assessment Solutions.

Chapter Three, Systems That Support Success, provides a descriptive approach to an integrated infrastructure that aligns and integrates support systems (academic and non-academic) and allows for the flexibility and adaptation needed to accommodate the transient adult learner, through utilization of data.  The highlights of this chapter address three basic questions for the adult literacy programs relative to the effective use of data: 1. How can data be used to learn an individual’s unique student experience, 2. What interventions and support services can be leveraged to aide in the elimination of barriers for the student, and 3. What is the best career plan to increase performance, optimize success and ensure seamless transition and integration into the workforce that will aide in longevity of employment and financial sustainability of self and family?

Chapter Four, Leadership that Enables Innovation and Change discusses the role of the leader and aligns it with being innovate and forward thinking with the incorporation and use of technology.  This chapter addresses ways that leaders can collaborate to develop measures that will be beneficial for mediums to coexist and to create longitudinal data systems that will facilitate student transitions in career pathways, integrate and align curriculums and incorporate formal and informal learning that will be valuable to students long after graduation, or transition.  There are salient examples given in this chapter and throughout the supplement that are pivotal and can be related to visionary thinking and planning required of the new Workforce investment opportunity Act, such as Data that Bridges Education and Workforce.

Chapter Five, The Future of Higher Education is a summary of the supplement and gives a brief synopsis of topics ranging from Equity and Access to Completion and Outcomes and Research.  These topics, coupled with the effective use of technology will help postsecondary and non-traditional Adult Literacy and training programs build cohesive programs and a vision for sustainability and advancement in the future.  The descriptive narrative of considerations in this chapter is meant to guide the entire kaleidoscope of professionals in the field of education whose contributions impact the lives of adult students. 

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