The Future of Higher Education Review
Modern technologies and the Internet have vastly influenced all spheres of human life, and this pertains to education, as well. Nowadays, scientists face with the dilemma whether education as society knows it today, will be significantly transformed in the future. This question is important for teachers, students and their parents. The focus of the paper is examining two possible scenarios for the higher education by 2020, stated in The Future of the Internet (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie).
Nowadays, education, more than ever before, is prone to the technological influence. Thus, one of the major scientists’ concerns is how the educational system would look like in 2020. Evidently, now it is going through significant changes that influence the methods of teaching, the place of learning, and the costs of education. Experts “worry about massive online course, the shift away from on-campus life” (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie). They assume that a number of universities will choose hybrid learning systems and implement learning through online courses more often.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a survey, in which they asked respondents to choose one of two probable scenarios for changes in the higher education by 2020. The first one described significant transformations, such as “mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning” (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie); implementation of individualized methods of learning; and switching to hybrid learning system. The second variant predicted the modest changes that will not influence the educational system much. It stated that the education would be practically the same by the end of the decade. Students and teachers will use more technological innovations for sharing information, but the core of the academic learning will remain the same. Consequently, 39% voted for the modest scenario, and 60% percent chose the one, describing significant modification.
Experts, who voted for the modest scenario proved their choice by stating several key arguments. First, universities are not only a place, where people gain knowledge, but also a place, where they develop socially (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie). In addition, universities, as a social institution, are considered extremely resistant to changes in society (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie). Another key statement relates to the high cost of education. Universities might not like to shift the learning system because this will lead to lowered payments.
Their opponents argue that the current education requires immediate changes. They mention the price of higher education, as well. Students all over the world are looking for relatively inexpensive ways to get a degree. Distant and hybrid learning could be a solution for millions of students. The respondents in this group emphasize that the current system of higher education is imperfect and it is time to start teaching how to learn (Anderson, Boyles and Rainie). Overall, recipients from this group believe that universities cannot neglect communication progress and must change their learning methods.
My position regarding the future of education is that there will be only some modest changes in the whole system. I agree that the institution that is functioning for centuries cannot be considerably transformed during the next decade. The higher education has already experienced many innovations, but its foundation is still the same. Besides, nothing can substitute a class with a lecturer teaching the students face-to-face. Today, most students use different devices and the Internet instead of reading books and spending hours in the libraries. However, the usage of new technologies just improves the educational system but cannot significantly change its core. The future of the higher education could be the combination of innovative approaches, distant learning, and standard face-to-face learning inside the physical classrooms. This combination would be the most effective because it would manage to reduce the costs to some extent, provide more individual learning, and would not curtail the social aspect of the higher education.
The value of The Future of the Internet is that it provides opinions of different experts, who state weighty arguments in order to prove their positions and describe the current situation. Despite the minority, the recipients, who voted for the moderate changes in education, have convinced me more. Nevertheless, online courses and distant learning combined with a classic learning system appear to be the most efficient scenario. The education requires some changes, but there is no need to break the system as a whole.
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