Think back of your own college years, attending lectures with hundreds of other students in those steep lecture halls with harsh wooden chairs. Or think of the time you were with friends elsewhere while you should have been in those lecture halls. Or when you were doing all sorts of jobs to pay for your education. Universities of the future will all be different.
With free online courses from all sorts of highly regarded universities, not only from your own country, but from all over the world, people will be able to participate in higher education at their own time and without paying huge college fees. The number of students attending any class will soon be massive and can have great impact on the global knowledge base, so to say.
Online education can be mainstream in just a couple of years. Harvard and MIT are already operational with edX, free online courses from their curriculum. Platforms for interaction with teaching staff and other students makes the college experience highly interactive. Massive, open, online courses, or MOOC’s will forever change the educational landscape. Universities everywhere, including in the Netherlands, see their subscriptions to MOOC courses hit the ceiling, and attract far more students then their class room based courses have done before. Professional service company Ernst & Young recognized this exact thing in their report University of the Future: A thousand year old industry on the cusp of profound change. They see the expansion of online resources and the way courses will be delivered will also have consequences for the funding of universities, and the global mobility of students and staff.
However, one mayor aspect of your college years is a actually all the things you do apart of studying: hanging out with your friends on campus or in bars, living in a student residence, the fraternities, the unique social experience that marks your student years. The residential student life will remain in the future, but there will also be a great deal of students who choose for the online experience. The benefits are attractive, e.g. not having to move to a University town, pick the best education globally at very low costs and being able to do other work aside of studying which makes it also easier to study later on in life. And maybe students in the future won’t miss the traditional campus based student life. People get so much used to be globally connected in many ways – online and offline, which can be very enriching. As technology develops, connectivity and interaction in online education will also improve in time. So don’t think too soon of it like it is a meager substitute for traditional college education.
The access that online education provides to higher education allows students to choose for the best curriculum available. The popular vote will also show which ones are the less popular teachers, which will obviously have consequences and announces a shake out for mediocre schools. Ernst & Young see three ways of evolution in the universities landscape. A “streamlined status quo”, with established schools progressively changing the way they deliver courses. “Niche dominators”, targeting particular ‘customer’ segments with tailored education, research and related services. And lastly” transformers”, new entrants carving out new positions and create new market space.
The change from classroom teaching to online education is definitely coming. The internet is just there to make it happen. With obvious advantages for students globally and opportunities for highly regarded universities to confirm their established names, this seams an unstoppable trend. So look forward to the universities of the future.
Read more at: The American Interest Magazine