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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