Education and especially higher education has historically remained to be a privilege of the few who can afford the high cost attached to it. The society has been stratified on the basis of education. Higher education has become a burden to many middle class and low class families, and the existence of community colleges has served to provide reprieve to people who cannot afford degrees in prestigious universities in America and abroad. This is just to show how pertinent the issue of education is, especially in the context of economic status. But there is hope. In just the way technology has been exploited to solve other issues, it can be applied to come up with a solution that will put the poor and the rich at par. In fact, technology has already been used in many aspects of education, but what is yet to happen is the real deal. The future of higher education is defined. It will be digitalized and presented to everyone free of charge, restrictions and stratification. This paper will discuss the technological innovations in the field of education and their potential contribution to cost, purpose, accessibility and accountability of higher education as part of the future of higher education.
In College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, Jeffrey Selingo reiterates the popular complaint that higher education is expensive, biased and sub-standard (Selingo, 29). He however disclaims that not all current higher education is bad, but that which is commercialized by a few selfish individuals is. He decries the move by the mid-level colleges in providing university class education to people who only need more of certificates or less of education. The victims, he says, are aware that they are conned or they are totally oblivious of the hoax. The greed for credentials aimed to beautify a resume is the main cause of the observed trends in substandard education. Other factors that drive the changes in higher education include reduced state funding, competition for scarce dollars and misleading financial practices in the market (Rossing, 15). Despite the flaws that mar the education system today, the educational prospects of tomorrow are good thanks to the technology. Selingo asserts that digitalized education will provide a permanent solution for the failure experienced in the sector. Hybrid classes, free massive online open courses, interactive learning software and unbundled college education will enable access of free, holistic and standard education to many people in America and the whole world.
Kevin Carey in the book The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere maintains that technology is the ultimate resort for the ailing education sector (Carey, 19). His stand, contrary to Selingos, is purely online education: online enrollment, online, courses and online grading. His idea of University of Everywhere is rather optimistic (Selingo, 11). The system, he says, is an online community of learners that share vast knowledge across computers. The motivation of learning in the university will be dictated by the urge to gain personal knowledge but not by a university system that coerces one to perform, at least implicitly, through grading (Rossing, 9). This doesnt mean that the grading system will be abolished. Open badge system of assessment will be used to allocate marks based on an acceptable criterion.
The ideas generated by Selingo and Carey will be evaluated in the context of future higher education that is accessible, cheap, credible and purposeful. They are as follows:
These are defined as courses in which significant part of coursework is covered in an online platform, thus reducing the time that the learners spend in the classroom (Garnham and Kaleta 1). The aim is to combine the best classroom with the best online study methods to come up with a perfect blend of learning experiences. The hybrid courses are delivered using tutorials, case studies, assessment tests and group discussions (Garnham and Kaleta 1). The hybrid courses will make education accessible and purposeful. The sick students and antisocial student will greatly benefit from hybrid courses. The learning hours lost when sick students skip classroom session will no longer be lost since they can access the learning materials from home. A student will no longer struggle with traffic to class since the course materials are online. The courses will offer credibility since there is an online assessment test that evaluates leaners. Furthermore, the learning content available online is much greater and interesting to learn that the one in the library shelves. However, these courses can do little in making education cheap, since the participants are students in a certain university or college. It is important to remember that the classroom sessions are still maintained and therefore a learner has to attend those to fully cover the coursework
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOCs are perhaps the best online education innovation so far. It meets all my ideas for an ideal higher education. MOOCs are free, online platforms that deliver education without regard to geographic or time zones to high number of learners (Voss 3). Instructors using this platforms use technology to deliver relevant course work, divided into modules and an exam at the end of each module. The overall marks attained by a virtual student are combined at the end of the program to give an aggregate score. A computer generated certificate of completion is issued by the instructor (Voss 3). Essentially, the instructor and the student do not meet at any point of the course. MOOCs are credited for providing a wide range of knowledge at all levels of learning across the globe. A certificate is issued after successful completion of the course, meaning that the education is credible. The knowledge attained in MOOCs can be applied in the career making it purposeful for me.
This idea by Carey appears unrealistic from a distance but a closer look at it brings the message home. Virtual learning will succeed in eliminating barriers to cheap, credible, purposeful and accessible education. As long as the internet is available, virtual education will be accessible to everyone from any part of the globe. Careys idea is that of slight improvement on MOOCs: free and better. According to Carey, the enrollment that will be done online will be based on assessment of the ability of each person. Learners will be enrolled to courses they can comfortably study, again emphasizing on credibility. There will be a system of grading, which will not be manipulated. The best performing graduates will be absorbed into the job market faster and this will establish competition for better grades. In the long run, a culture of hard work will develop in the society, where the hardworking are rewarded fairly, making the education purposeful
The envisioned education system will not be presented on a silver platter. To attain the aforementioned goals, the scientific community will need to come up with better and more efficient internet and networking enhancement methods to cater for the large number of leaners that will adopt digital learning. The policy makers concerned must also be cautious with the shortcomings that come with the use of internet like cybercrime and pornography. All said and done, the future of higher education on an internet platform is promising.
Pursuant to the above issues and ideas presented on the paper, it is evident that the need for education has pushed a higher demand in the market as more people scramble to get better grades. Education practitioners have realized this gap and are now coming with better ways that will improve the education sector in the economy. They hold on to the belief that education ought to be purposeful, credible, accessible and affordable to everyone in the society. The purpose of education is to prepare one for future job or career, give one esteemed experiences in life. In addition, education has the goal to impart cognitive skills and knowledge that will open doors in the work force. It thus has to be fair and rewarding. The only way to attain such an education that captures all the functions and goals should be through making it universal. Technology should be at the heart of everything surrounding education.
Carey, Kevin. "The end of college: Creating the future of learning and the university of everywhere." New York: Riverhead Book (2015).
Kaleta, Robert, C. Garnham, and Alan Aycock. "Hybrid courses: Obstacles and solutions for faculty and students." 19th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. 2005.
Rossing, J. P., Miller, W. M., Cecil, A. K., & Stamper, S. E. (2012). iLearning: The Future of Higher Education? Student Perceptions on Learning with Mobile Tablets. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 1-26.
Selingo, Jeffrey J. College (un) bound: The future of higher education and what it means for students. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.Voss, Brian D. "Massive open online courses (MOOCs): A primer for university and college board members." Retrived from http://agb. org/sites/agb. org/files/report_2013_MOOCs. pdf (2013).
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