In my Master's Program, I had the opportunity to focus a lot on the future of Higher Education with the emergence of new technology and new ideas. “Every great bubble in history has broken. There are no exceptions.” – Jeremy Grantham
What is the future of Higher Education? This is an interesting question and many people are trying to grasp where Higher Education is headed. And though there are no clear or definitive answers, many people have invested a lot of money in developing new technology that could bring about the end to the brick and mortar concept of education.
Currently the education system is built upon an antiquated system where people pay money to attend class taught by professors who instill some sort of knowledge upon the student. But as many studies have shown, the cost of education is constantly on the rise yet the actual value of the education that the student is getting is the same today as it was 20 years ago.
Courtney O’Connell, a rising leader on disruptive innovation in higher education, talks a lot about the classroom and teaching. She has a tedtalk where she encourages her viewers to “Go All in on Higher Education.” In her ted talk, she has a picture of time square from the 1920s and today and talks about how the differences are astounding. She then shows a picture of a classroom from the 1920s and today and says…What has changed? Below is a picture of her example:
The concept of disruptive innovation is that you always have to be on the cutting edge of development so that you do not realize one day that you have been disrupted and replaced. Today, the Carnegie measure of credit has been in existence and wide-spread use since 1910 (over 105 years) and this is predominantly the same standard of measurement that is used today.
However with rising concern over time spent in the classroom vs. actual practical learning, the foundation of education finds itself at a predicament. With many institutions exploring the notion of competency based learning and the use of prior knowledge to help supplement time spent in the classroom for credit could ultimately disrupt the carnegie credit hour.
The Kahn Academy has a very extensive system setup to track and monitor student progress and allow students to work at their pace and on subject matter that they specifically struggle with. The Kahn Academy model is currently being tested in middle and high schools. The rich interface allows teachers to generate lesson plans per each student that focuses on the areas that the student is specifically struggling with, and continues to test the student on those areas until the student has finally reached mastery of the concept.
In higher education, this can have many different implications. 1) Students can pay based upon time spent such as with the Western Governor’s University. A student pays a base fee for six months and works their way through the course material. After a series of assessments they prove if they have mastered the material and they can spend as much or as little time as needed on a specific area until they master it. Studies show that this model has already cut the time in class in half, reducing the cost that a student pays on education.
Lipscomb University allows students to take an all day assessment to determine competencies. After the 8-hour day of assessment, the student could leave with 30 credits based upon prior knowledge and experience (teamwork, communication, prioritizing information, critical analysis, etc). How much could a person save if they could shave off an entire year of their education? Students today are paying triple the amount for the same education as people 20 to 30 years ago. In places, theories, ideas, trends, etc change, but overall education has remained pretty stagnate. With the emergency of opportunities as featured in these articles, this could be a game changer.
Students can pay $1,500 for an 8 hour day of assessment on prior learning and competencies (competency based learning) and come out with 30 credits, that would technically be 1 year of college. When you think about how much time and money students invest in higher education, they could in theory shave off 1 year and $15,000+ in educational costs and expenses.
urthermore, developing technology, especially through the use of MOOCs is changing the very nature of education. Access to education is now available to anyone across the globe as long as they have an internet connection. Whereas, education use to be only for those people who could afford to attend an institution, now people can gain valuable knowledge from all over. The amount of information sharing and collaboration is endless, making for a more diverse and enriched educational experience. Some institutions are also looking for offering MOOCs for credit.
Digital badging is also creating an opportunity for people to take parts of courses to develop and gain skills. Could you imagine if you needed “critical analysis training” for a job promotion but did not want to spend an entire 15 weeks in a class so you instead take 3 weeks of the class to earn a badge for critical analysis to help support your knowledge and skills? Or could you imagine that as a student, you are engaged in many extra curricular activities, and while your in school you earn “badges” to help you showcase the experiences you have had and the skills you have gained from these extra curricular experiences that you can put alongside your actual resume? Think about how this would set a student apart with an employer if not only the employer saw the jobs and leadership positions the student held but also the skills they gained (communication, crisis management, budget/finance, leadership development, delegation, running meetings, etc). It is these concrete skills that employers are looking for from graduates today.