The basic needs for living are indeed: food, shelter and clothing. But as humans, the most important need for survival is learning. Education has been there centuries ago and has traversed a tremendous journey. From messages being passed down to generations orally, then with the advent of papyrus and scripts, the printing machine and digital media, the teaching-learning activity has experienced a tremendous change undoubtedly. In an industrial conference table, we could put some amazing plots and statistical data on the table and congratulate ourselves on how technology has come along they way in serving education. The fact however that watermarks the colors of “technology in education” is the basic question, “are we empowered?”
I would like to talk about the future of university based on this question, “are we empowered” or “will future generations be empowered?” Close your eyes for a moment and transfer yourself back in time to two hundred years ago. Imagine you father teaching you how you get to home from the field that is several miles away. You have no option but to pay attention, trust your memory and take your step. Now, you move a few decades ahead and you have a pen and paper. So you make notes of what your father teaches you. If you get lost, you need not worry about forgetting the way home, just look at your notes. Now lets go a few more years ahead and say, you buy a map. Now you need not depend on whether your father teaches you or not, for you know everything that your father knows. Now come back to the present. You don’t even have to but a map. Just google it!
I can attest that every grad student’s philosophy in learning has now changed to “Google It!” What I observe is, in the first case, we trusted our memory because we had no choice. Then, we depended on something for the “just in case I forget”. And now we are in a situation where we are like, “We can google it when we need it”. This is the future of education in my perspective. I hear so many peers talking in class when some concepts are described and they say, “Its all available online so what?” I think it is really important to step back and understand what learning is. Today, we have a ton of information out there on the web but there is a huge gap in understanding “Now What?”. So, should I say that learning in today’s world is all about merely applying the facts available to us? Or is it about, just knowing how to use the resources correctly? Well, I know the math, so what should I do? My peer does it using a software without even knowing whats going on! So, is there a difference when I learn the derivations and understand the math whereas another simply uses software and still gets a really high pay job? Where is education going?
I believe, we are in a world where we can decide who we get to be – a privilege of no other generation. We decide how to use the information to become what we want to become. The future of university will depend on the outcome of the policies that will be based on the answer to this contemplation.
Probably, in a few decades, given the rising tuition costs and ease of online education with nano degrees like Udacity, will it be a viable option to spend tens of thousands of dollars in tuition? Probably, the future of universities could just be a phone! Let me know what the future according to you will be like?