Education is an ever-changing landscape, which is arguably true now more than ever. Technology has acted as a sort of catalyst to the transformation of the meaning of college, introducing e-textbooks, SmartBoards, and online discussions. Seeing as how the learning experience now is so much different than what it was ten years ago, where do we go from here?
On the outside, college in 2025 might look similar. A cramped dorm here, a sleepy lecture there. But the learning experiences most definitely will, in a multitude of ways.
The Advancement of Online Education
The first, and most obvious, point to address is online education. More and more traditional campuses are beginning to offer an online college counterpart which consists of taking classes from home, whether it be partially or in full. Online students can watch lectures online, submit their papers and projects online, and even meet with their advisors online to get advice on how to proceed with their education and careers. There are currently over 7 million students taking college classes online – that’s one out of every three college students partaking in online learning. In the next ten years, nearly every college will offer online classes, the types of degrees you can earn online will be more widespread, and admissions will continue to get more competitive.
As of right now, a number of professors are understanding that the cost of textbooks is prohibitive for a lot of students. To help encourage learning, they’re choosing materials that are free or even making their learning materials available online so that students can access them from mobile devices. In the next ten years, students will likely see a big shift to online textbook libraries as a way to cut costs. Many schools are already seeking alternatives to the expensive textbooks through open resource movements, and this is likely to result in a much more accessible (and inexpensive) digital library for college students to use.
Curricula geared towards Labor
A recent survey shows that 60% of employers have noted that job applicants lack certain necessary skills for their roles, such as interpersonal and communication skills. While they may be the most skilled in their specific trade, these applicants lack the more abstract skills that can only be learned through hands-on experience. Many schools have begun responding to this demand from employers and have begun to focus their curricula on programs that give students these tangible skills. A program at Southern New Hampshire University, for example, allows students to advance not only by completing coursework, but by demonstrating specific skill sets. In other words, college (and even high school) is shifting toward not just giving students information, but also the skills to use it through fieldwork and internships.
What do you think about these changes? Do you look forward to the future of education?