A Closer Look at ELI 15 Key Issues of Teaching and Learning 2019

The annual ELI Key Issues in Teaching and Learning infographics are organized along fifteen different themes that serve as “frameworks or focal points for discussion and programming throughout the coming year.”

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association that exists to, “…support those who lead, manage, deploy, and use information technology to advance higher education.” Members come from higher education institutions, the technology sector, and other organizations that work with and support higher education. As their focus is the intersection of technology and higher education, EDUCAUSE is always striving to evaluate how emerging technology trends might integrate into the higher education experience. To this end, EDUCAUSE produces a variety of resources each year that evaluate how emerging technology trends might integrate into the higher education experience. One of these resources that comes out in the early part of the year is the annual Key Issues in Teaching and Learning infographic that has been published since 2011.

Each year, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative surveys the higher education community to determine key issues and opportunities in postsecondary teaching and learning. For 2019, more than 1400 community members voted and identified 15 issues that serve as “frameworks or focal points for discussion and programming throughout the coming year.”

This year, we wanted to take our team beyond the aesthetic appreciation of the infographic design, and offer a concise review of the issues highlighted. This post provides a high-level summary of each of the 15 themes and offers two questions related to each theme to help consider how the theme might apply to each unique education situation.

Faculty Development & Engagement

Perceptions of technology-mediated learning are all over the map from those who heartily embrace it to those who feel it is a negative disruption to the learning experience. Faculty development and engagement seeks to foster discussions around how faculty can be more empowered to integrate technology into overall teaching and learning.

Questions to consider:

  • How can faculty learn how to use technology to better craft active learning?
  • How can faculty who are actively using technology in positive ways better mentor and encourage those who may be hesitant?

Online and Blended Learning

Through advances in technology, learners no longer need to be physically co-present to engage in collaborative learning. Online and blended learning seeks to foster discussions around both the tools and processes used to create an interactive, engaging learning experience amidst geographic diversity.

Questions to consider:

  • How can technology be used to not only replicate face to face interaction but also open up new pathways for engagement for all participants?
  • What does “faculty voice” and personality look and feel like in a technology-mediated classroom?

Instructional and Learning Experience Design

The design of spaces and places plays a vital yet often underacknowledged role in the learning process. Instructional and learning experience design seeks to foster discussions around how information learned from metrics and data analysis technology can better inform course design leading to continued positive transformation in learning design.

Questions to consider:

  • How can trends in data tracking better lead to empathetic course design?
  • How can metrics analysis inform student narrative construction and in so doing inform larger course design?

Digital and Information Literacy

As programs increasingly implement online resources, students must also develop digital and information literacy skills to analyze what is and is not a credible resource. Also, as students are increasingly asked to produce digital artifacts as evidence of competence, students must understand the broader digital landscape in which they are being asked to create.

Questions to consider:

  • In an era where technology is ubiquitous, how can faculty use technology to foster critical thinking and digital information analysis skills in students?
  • How can course design be used to expand information literacy beyond a search engine and into a more holistic way of thinking?

Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Accessibility refers to the ability to access content or information regardless of one’s physical abilities. Universal design for learning is a learning framework that guides the development of flexible learning content to connect with learner neurodiversity. Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning design seek to foster discussions around how technology can be used to not only decentralize learning materials to reach a larger audience but also be designed in such a way to ensure equitable access amongst diverse participants.

Questions to consider:

  • How can faculty better frame discussions of accessibility and universal design to be more inclusive?
  • How can technology be a catalyst to shift mindsets toward proactive rather than reactive accessibility?

Competency and New Methods of Learning Assessment

Competency-based education (CBE) is an education that focuses on the acquisition of concrete, practice-based skills. Students can move at their own pace through skills building a portfolio of competencies that are relevant and applicable to industry employers. In higher education, competency models can also include credit for professional competencies acquired in the workplace rather than academic situations. Competency and new methods of learning assessment seek to foster discussions around faculty role in competency-based education as well as how learning technology and particularly learning management systems might need to shift to accommodate a more practice-based model.

Questions to consider:

  • How can the faculty use the existing capabilities in the course and learning management system technology to transition to a competency-based approach?
  • How can technology be used to build proactive collaborations between faculty and outside industry partners?

Learning Analytics

Learning analytics refers to the collection and analysis of data gathered about learners to optimize the learning environment and learning outcomes. Learning management systems and overall course design has enabled unprecedented amounts of information to be collected about student behavior and performance. Learning analytics seeks to foster discussions around the privacy and ethical questions of ubiquitous data harvesting as well as how we can move from information to understanding when constructing an overall learner narrative.

Questions to consider:

  • How can insight gained from learning analytics better feed into student support offerings?
  • What privacy guidelines must also be in place and how will they be conveyed to stakeholders to ensure transparency?

Open Education

Open education includes the implementation of open educational resources, open pedagogy, and the implementation of an open practice ethos within overall course design. Open education seeks to foster discussions around how technology can be used to foster open practices better and create and disseminate open resources.

Questions to consider:

  • How can technology foster support systems so that faculty can better connect to the open resources they need to implement additional open practices?
  • How can technology be used to provide pathways for students to engage in open practices and so exercise greater agency over their learning process?

Evaluating Instructional & Learning Innovations

Though many innovations can be placed in a learning situation, without clear assessment, it can be challenging to assess whether or not they are working to produce the desired outcome in a given situation. Evaluating instructional and learning innovations seeks to move discussions around innovation past the anecdotal and into the evidentiary.

Questions to consider:

  • What role does student preference play in driving and evaluating learning innovation?
  • How can faculty better leverage the technology in the learning ecosystem to provide clear evidence on instructional pathways?

Academic Transformation

Academic transformation emphasizes nimble thinking within institutions to ensure that the institution will be able to adequately shift and respond to changes in both students and overall learning landscape. This nimble mindset is fueled by insight, stories, and a commitment to student-centeredness. Academic transformation seeks to foster discussions around the role technology is playing and will continue to play in the future of higher education.

Questions to consider:

  • What role do digital skills play in overall institutional strategy?
  • How can institutions better support an experimentation culture within faculty members?

Adaptive Teaching & Learning

Adaptive learning is a data-driven approach to learning that orchestrates the interaction between learner and content and customizes resources and activities to best address the unique needs of the learner. It is considered to be the ultimate in personalized learning as each algorithm works to predictively analyze what information is needed at any given step in the learning process. Adaptive teaching and learning seeks to foster discussions around the role of the educator in an adaptive learning exchange as well as how adaptive learning can scale across diverse student populations.

Questions to consider:

  • What happens to the role of a faculty member in an adaptive teaching and learning scenario?
  • How do curriculum design shift and change to support the potentially nonlinear learning pathway of adaptive learning?

Learning Spaces (including Makerspaces)

As with the issue of Instructional and Learning Experience Design, the learning space issue questions the importance of place and space in learning design. Learning spaces seek to foster discussion about how classrooms and courses can be transformed into more interactive spaces that emphasize discovery, inquiry, etc.

Questions to consider:

  • How can technology support high interactive and high choice learning opportunities for both face to face and online learners?
  • What institutional support is necessary to encourage greater learning space transformation amongst faculty?

Microcredentialing and Digital Badging

Learners often have a difficult time articulating knowledge upon program completion. Microcredentialing and digital badging provide learners with a comprehensive listing of concrete skills accumulated throughout their academic journey. Microcredentialing and Digital Badging seek to foster discussions around credentialing language with a specific focus on how technology can be used to provide learners with a skills portfolio.

Questions to consider:

  • How can the traceable nature of digital badging be implemented to ensure career readiness better?
  • What granular curricular changes must be implemented to enable microcredentialing and digital badging?

Digital Learning Architectures

A digital learning architect is someone responsible for the overall design, development, and management of an online learning program. An architect sees the course from a high perspective and ensures that overall course design is both visually and pedagogically sound. The digital learning architecture theme seeks to foster discussions around how learning environments can be constructed in a manner that best serves both learners and instructors.

Questions to consider:

  • What role does faculty play when working with a digital learning architect?
  • What role does technology play in overall digital learning architecture?

Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success

Though student success is never guaranteed, planning an intentional advising and support framework can dramatically increase the potential for success. Integrated planning and advising for student success refers to the full-scale support ecosystem an institution has in place. It seeks to foster discussions around how planning, advising and technology can join together to ensure students have the support necessary for degree completion.

Questions to consider:

  • How can technology be used to identify achievement gaps in learning and overall process?
  • What role do both faculty and predictive analytics play in identifying at-risk students?


This summary used the infographic and the related ELI resources as a starting that we hope will help scaffold future exploration. Though the ELI community is diverse, there is always a risk of bias and blind spots in any community. Do you have an idea you feel could extend or augment this topic? If so, please feel free to add it in the comments below so we can all learn together! Also, let us know if you would like to see community surveys for AACE Review!

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