The future of higher education: How emerging technologies will change education forever

The following infographic, “The Future of Higher Education”, is based on the book The Future Of Higher Education: How Emerging Technologies Will Change Education Forever by Lasse Rouhiainen, an international author on artificial intelligence and keynote speaker on artificial intelligence and digital marketing:

Rouhiainen (n.d.)

Rouhiainen outlines how three emerging technologies – e-learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality – will change education.  Of particular interest to me is virtual reality, which Rouhiainen argues will change education through the following outcomes:

  1. powerful emotional experiences for students
  2. increased motivation for students
  3. less time in training
  4. more access to education

My general research interests in engineering education lie somewhere near the intersection of transfer of learning (primary area), collaborative learning (secondary area), and student motivation and engagement (secondary area).  Positive transfer of learning requires transfer appropriate processing (TAP) during training.  Morris, Bransford, and Franks (1977) initially argued that TAP “emphasizes that the value of particular acquisition activities must be defined relative to particular goals and purposes.  Furthermore, assumptions about the quality and durability of the resulting memory traces can only be determined relative to the appropriateness of the testing situation.  The concept of transfer appropriate processing suggests that it is no longer beneficial to simply assume that the traces of certain items are less durable or adequate than others because those items were processed at a shallower level.  The evidence that appears to support this latter assumption involves test situations that are not optimal for assessing what was actually learned” (p. 528).

Proctor and Van Zandt (2008) clarified that “[t]ransfer will occur to the extent that the productions acquired to perform one task overlap with those required to perform a second task.  In other words, the specific stimulus and response elements do not have to be identical for transfer to occur; rather, the acquired productions must be appropriate for the second task” (p. 323).  Transfer of learning is especially important for the development and implementation of simulators as training devices, including, but not limited to, flight simulators deployed to train novice pilots.  Again, Proctor and Van Zandt (2008) explained that, “[i]f training on a simulator transfers to the operational system, then money can be saved that would have been spent for the operation of the system itself.  Moreover, the risk of physical harm and damage to the real system can be minimized” (pp. 387-388).

Therefore, virtual reality, or augmented reality, can function as a vehicle for overcoming the challenges to obtaining rich, authentic learning experiences and, thus, have the potential to foster greater transfer of learning.


Morris, C. D., Bransford, J. D., & Franks, J. J. (1977). Levels of processing versus transfer appropriate processing. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 16, 519-533.

Proctor, R. W., & Van Zandt, T. (2008). Human factors in simple and complex systems (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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5 Responses to The future of higher education: How emerging technologies will change education forever

  1. kaiwen says:

    Appreciate your sharing of the knowledge from the book “The Future Of Higher Education: How Emerging Technologies Will Change Education Forever”. It well summarized the potential benefits of the application of E-learning, AR and VR. Regarding your research, I am a little confused about TAP. Can you introduce more about the definition of TAP or list some specific examples?

  2. alliem says:

    To me, what stands out about the infographic is the section on e-learning. I think there are some positive and negative aspects of this to consider.

    Something that is both positive and negative, depending on how you look at it, is the increase of students who will be able to enroll. It’s positive for institutions to have good enrollment numbers, but I worry about how the demand for e-learning might push departments to forego traditional classrooms for online classrooms. There is also the quality of the classroom to consider when it is online. I am sure we all have had some really great classes online, some really pathetically easy classes online, and some terrible classes online. The pathetically easy ones are what I would worry about as demand grows. I TA an online class that is consistently over 100 students every semester and over time it has just become almost a nuisance. It ties me to my computer and makes it very difficult to form bonds with students. Furthermore, I have noticed an increase of students worrying that THEY are bothering ME! They constantly apologize for writing numerous emails filled with numerous questions when they do not understand an assignment, though this is the preferred form of communication for an online course.

    As I mentioned, I think there may be a lot of good and a lot of bad in the future with e-learning. I do think the part about mobile courses are really cool. I also like that this could help reach students who maybe cannot afford a nice laptop. It is an interesting concept overall.

  3. sptiller says:

    I think this brings up a point which I had not considered–the role of VR in facilitating emotion-based learning. I am interested in the applications and the amount of user data someone would need to create an experience which was emotional enough to heighten memory of the material or increase the motivation of a student. While we all share a set of common emotional responses to types of experience, a lot of motivating someone to learn is relating the subject to their own interests and goals.

  4. valestudentvt says:

    Thanks for your post. I Agree with you that the transfer of learning is very important.
    You may be interested in learning about Duolingo. This is an open-access platform to learn languages. Basically, Duolingo uses machine learning tools to offer you a series of tasks about writing, listening, and talking in different languages. In the end, the tool measures the time it takes you to solve a specific task to adapt the course in order to identify the task that you need to reinforce. This artificial intelligence approach could be used in other academic fields, to reach a bigger audience and offer personalized courses.

  5. fffinch says:

    I think what really struck me about your post was the possibility for virtual reality/augmented reality to offer authentic learning experiences. Before creating my own post for this week, and reading yours and others, I was (and still am, to a certain extent) very opposed to the introduction to technology in the classroom. Some of this comes from personal experiences – I felt the least motivated and therefore learned the least in the 1 online class I took in undergrad. I feel like a big part of the reason behind this was that the lack of fellow classmates to hear from prevented me from getting fresh insights and hearing unexpected questions. In addition, there was no professor in-person to connect with, to have as a sort of mentor. For me (and many others), the relationship with the professor is a big determinant in class performance. All of this said, I do think that virtual reality could offer some really exciting personalities in pedagogy, especially in my own field of foreign language teaching. If virtual/augmented reality allowed students to enter an “authentic” context, negotiate meaning, and get through a contextualized language exercise (imagine having to book a hotel room or order at a restaurant in VR French), I would be all for it as a supporting exercise.

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