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2016 was a whirlwind in many areas, education included.

2016 was a whirlwind in many ways, including in education. A plethora of changes has resulted in concern and uncertainty about the direction that education will take in 2017. However, as the world and society changes, education must and will as well.

Education Dive released a list of their most-read articles in 2016, with topics including how increased student engagement reduces the likelihood of cheating, how Millennials are demanding badges in order to display their microcredentials to employers, a claimed collapse of for-profit education, and why tech industries are demanding more liberal arts graduates.

With the rise of partially- and fully-online education, institutions are becoming more creative in preventing cheating by utilizing tools like online proctoring. Some have found that “making changes to the lecture format can also go a long way in increasing engagement.” Another popular tool is classroom flipping, a method of teaching that exposes students to new materials while they are out of the classroom so that, by the time they get into the classroom, they are ready to problem solve, discuss the material or hold debates.

Another result of the growth of online education, and of the Millennial generation in general, is badging. According to a University Business article, “[a]lmost all U.S. colleges and universities now award certificates, digital badges, and other forms of microcredentials so students can quickly show an employer specialized skills they’ve acquired.” For instance, an individual who learns how to repair a self-driving car can demonstrate this with a digital badge, rather than having to earn a degree.

Other headlines in the past year pertain to the supposed collapse of for-profit education. For example, Missouri College closed its doors in the middle of the school day on November 1, 2016, leaving students confused and unsure about their future. The reason these colleges are closing their doors? Some simply do not have enough money to operate, according to a Consumerist article. “Numerous factors contributed to the circumstances including declining student population and a continued, decreased demand for the services of for-profit schools.”

Education Dive’s collection of most popular 2016 articles includes a story about why the tech industry is looking for more graduates of liberal arts. “Liberal arts and sciences are. . . the concrete foundation of global connectivity in communication, leadership, innovation and enterprise.” Education Advisory Board Senior Analyst Ashley Delamater observed that tech development companies see that “fields like military science and finance depend heavily on liberal arts training for its focus on communication and building teamwork.” Delamater expressed the importance of showing liberal arts students previously unrecognized job options and “pairings between the liberal arts and professional and technical industries.”

What is in store for education in 2017? If 2016 was a year of uncertainty for the field, we can only hope that 2017 will be the year of clarity.

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