Higher education on the verge of a revolution?

Let’s start with a bold statement ! – Teaching, at the further and higher education level, is on the verge of such a huge change in the way it is delivered that in 5 years time we won’t recognise the educational lanscape.

Teachers has been slow to grasp the importance of technology and have relied on the lecturer to teach a classroom full of students for far too long. However, with the cost of a university education spiralling out of control and further education budgets set to decrease for many years to come change will be forced on these establishments.

Running a college is a very expensive business in terms of its buildings, staff costs and other resources. Its also expensive for the student. Its also very restrictive on the number of students who can attend the course and imposes strict rules about when a student should attend. As budgets come under increasing pressure, it is always the way that new ideas are born and new ways of doing things are found. This is already happening at the Khan Accademy. Also, the Stanford University professor who taught an artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his teaching position to aim for an even bigger audience.

Sebastian Thrun, a research professor of computer science at Stanford, has given up his teaching role at the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes.

A few years ago who would have imagined that we would download our music rather than buy it from a record shop. The high street is suffering whilst online retailers take their market share. Why can’t it happen in education too? The signs are already there and the environment is there too, Combine these factors with the technolgy that exists now and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall.

What might look like a challenge to large educational institutions is actually an opportunity. However, I fear the worst, because large companies and institutions are normally the slowest to change. We saw it in the travel industry when new airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet came from nothing to overtake the slow changing national airlines to change the airline industry forever.

Colleges and Universities already have the skills, knowldege and teaching expertise to offer qualifications in a radically new way. This will involve providing online learning so the student can learn at a time to suit them and also with a totally different way of monitoring a students progress. The way a tutor carries out assessment will change too. You have only to watch one of many You Tube videos about how the Khan Accademy is revolutionising how a students progress is monitored to see how things will look in a just a few years.

Colleges and Universities need to start to steer a new course now otherwise they face being left behind by new online universities that will offer cheap flexible ways of learning and obtaining a qualification.

If you want to see how teaching in the further and higher education sectors will look in the near future watch the fascinating video below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEJ_ATgrnnY?rel=0]

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