What does the future of higher education look like? What needs to change in order to make a positive difference? In my opinion, more acceptance of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and usage of alternative methods of teaching are key. As modern society continues to rely more and more on advanced technology, there is no way that technology will not continue to become more and more an integral part of teaching and higher education. I think that the standard lecture format that most professors utilize today needs to change, as does the connotation a degree from an online university is somehow “less” than that of a university with the standard campus format.
When I was in high school, the majority of my teachers still used an overhead projector to project hand-written notes for us to write down. In college, I had a few (older) professors who did that as well. I am not sure if any undergraduates now have professors who use that method. Does anyone know? Since I started graduate school more years ago than I would like to admit, I have not had one professor not use powerpoint. Powerpoint has become the major way to present materials now. And, overall, I think that powerpoints can be effective teaching tools. This, of course, completely depends however on the quality of the powerpoint. Some powerpoints are awful – boring black text on white background with paragraphs written on a slide. Nobody learns from that. Professors need to change how they present their material! Making good powerpoints is time consuming, but as teachers, we have to put in the time that the students deserve!
Adding visuals, audios, etc to powerpoints make them much more effective teaching tools. I am curious to see if powerpoints start being antiquated. I believe that they may stick around for awhile – even as more and more online classes are offered. I think that in the future, attending a physical university will become less and less common. When you can take classes at your own pace and from your home, why go live somewhere else? Personally, I do not do well with online courses. I need the in-person interaction to succeed. But many like these types of classes. And, hopefully, with more people choosing the online-route, the connotations around online university will be diminished.
I also think that the lecture format that the majority of professors cling to needs to change and will be used less often in the future. It seems that many studies have demonstrated that standing in front of a group of people talking AT them for an hour or more is not effective. Our attention spans are not that long, and they are only decreasing as the obsession with phones, tablets, etc grows. Group activities need to be utilized more. Breaking up a standard lecture format by allowing group activities and work, video clips on the topic etc helps people stay focused longer as these reduce the monotony of listening for an hour. Engaging more senses than sight and sound is crucial!