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Future of Education

Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

It is as difficult to predict the future of education at this revolutionary juncture as it would have been to predict the rise of Google, Facebook, i-Tunes and Amazon in 1994. But efforts to envision the unfolding future can play an important role in guiding the global higher education toward the best possible future.

Part of the mission of WUC is to envision those possibilities and the best ways to realize them. WUC invites thinkers to share their views on the possibilities, opportunities and challenges as we move forward.

Internet and Communication Technologies will be vital in the future. Online courses will grow in number and influence. MOOCs hold great promise, and will be accepted by students, universities and employers. However, there will be a great many experiments made, to move away from the thousand year old lecture model that classroom lectures, and even many online courses are largely based on. They will also need to strike a balance between automating processes to handle students in thousands, while delivering personalized authentic learning opportunities. According to Tony Bates,1 e-learning and distance education expert, online learning will become so integrated with teaching and learning that no one will be talking about online learning as such. It will be like talking today about whether students should use computers.

Technology will integrate itself into all aspects of education. Gadgets of every size will become tools of learning. Gaming will be widely adopted. The 2013 NMC Horizon Report2 sees the pervasion of mobile devices and wearable technology in the future of education. Glasses, watches, wristbands, even clothes will become smart, with the aim of making people smarter.

The college campus and classroom will evolve. The purpose of the physical campus will be reevaluated when compared with the more flexible, convenient and affordable online education. Consequently, universities and the role of teachers will undergo major changes. Universities will take to e-learning to make themselves sustainable. Education will become more student-centered. Students will enjoy a greater choice of courses. Content will be better suited to their goals. The revolution that the printing press sparked when it liberated knowledge from the hand-written and chained library books, will be consummated as knowledge is altogether freed from all physical medium.

Open educational resources will make knowledge wholly free. Students will not pay for content, but for services such as guidance and support. This will lead to new financial models. Assessment and evaluation of online learning will need to improve to match the pace of growth seen in other aspects of the field.

Another major trend representing a new paradigm in education will be the customizability of curriculum and content to individual needs as an increasingly available feature. The future will be about choices – choice of subjects, delivery method, schedule, evaluation, certification, cost. Learning will be from peers as much as from teachers. Cross-, trans- and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, learning and assessment will become prevalent. Lifelong learning will become a necessity. 'Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education' Martin Luther King Jr. believed. The need for values in education will be recognized and acted upon.

Not all changes however, will be desirable or positive. The high demand for courses more directly related to employment will result in science, technology, finance and business eclipsing the liberal arts. The crucial role of arts in personality development, honing students’ capacity for accomplishment and understanding of life will be overlooked in an effort to cut costs and improve the profitability of institutions. As educators and institutions hand over more power to students, the inevitable tendency to exploit the power and freedom will result in many new, unwanted consequences -online identity theft, the use of sophisticated technology to cheat in exams, courses and certifications with dubious quality.

‘640K ought to be enough for anybody’, Bill Gates said in 1981. Terabytes are replacing Gigabytes in common conversation today. Similarly, the future of education may be guarded by the veils of the unmanifest today, but we can safely say that in the future, education will teach students not what to think, but how to think.