The Future of Universities – The Digital Degree

This recent article in The Economist explains the status of an industry which has failed to evolve for too long. It is really quite mind boggling that today, education is largely delivered in the same way as it was in the industrial revolution. In fact the article says that is has barely changed for centuries.

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It is hence not surprising that even in the most developed economies, there is a funding crisis, particularly in higher education. According to Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, “Fifteen years from now, more than half of the universities in America will be in bankruptcy”.

Online education is only just starting to explode. Apart from taking a lot of cost out of an archaic system of learning, it will level the playing field for a game, which was been designed for the rich, powerful and famous. With technology and the internet, the best content can be delivered by the best educators to most remote and marginalized communities. This, to me, is the most significant aspect of this evolution and revolution. I will write more about this later.

The article also examines some of the issues with online education. I will also write later about how I see some of these issues could evolve. I can imagine wonderful and exciting prospects when we embrace and leverage technology and social media in the field of education. Not least of which would be the impact on global warming.

The third point that this article made is about continuing education and adult learning. In the past, a college education can pretty much see us through our working life. Today, we have many first year students in a 4 year education program who will graduate into jobs that have not been invented yet. Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, of Oxford University, reckon that perhaps 47% of occupations could be automated in the next few decades. The article suggests that traditional education models will not be able to compete with digital/online delivery in cost, speed, scale, accessibility and relevance.

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5 thoughts on “The Future of Universities – The Digital Degree”

  1. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
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  2. Interesting post and article link! I’ve finished reading the article in the Economist because I can relate. I myself is a product of online education, not because of personal choice but it’s the most practical option for me as a orthopedically/mobility-impaired person. Even if my online degree comes from a prestigious university, there is this stigma today that labels online education is in a lower stature, quality and competency wise, against a degree obtained within the traditional setting. Our government seems to attest to this fact when they made a rule that students graduated with latin honors in an Open University cannot receive the exemption in the Civil Service Exams, while the honor students in a traditional college can otherwise receive the privilege. I cannot blame them. I myself is torn between defending my online education and rooting for the benefits of traditional classroom-based education.

    Both modes of education settings have its own advantages and disadvantages and I cannot see one winning entirely over the other. The traditional mode of higher education will remain as it is but the online education provides a new, revolutionary way in delivering education to the masses and the marginalized which makes it all the more promising.

  3. Part 1
    Each country in the world has a unique Education System Per se, unfortunately if most of the systems are stripped down to the core there would be undeniable uniformity. It is noted, the standard education system has not changed for the last 150 – 200 years. When the article mentions since “the Industrial Revolution”, there is a close connection to the explosion of the revolution and why classrooms were set up accordingly during this period.
    The system presumed and prepared students for future employment in factories due to the demand of the period. Hence the classroom design correlates directly to a factory work environment. Students are grouped together as factory sections, to be educated/supervised, with long hours of study/work, and the short break will be determined by the authority, where and when for you. Furthermore, everything is dictated based on the philosophy of minimal cost for maximum profit/output. Hence the standardization of test through multiple choice answers, in retrospective it only proves a compliant set of cohorts that could adhere brilliantly to the system will ace the test. Which is what the factory culture clearly would want defined for its hiring qualification. Basically, creativity and innovation has been given a backseat in this type of systems which still prevails dominant around the world.
    Jim George a prominent Christian author quotes “It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish!” So, I have no qualms in how and why the system started the way it did. On the contrary, Why the absence of natural progression for the future? Over a century we are still wrestling with the same system and the same problems.

  4. What’s a digital degree?
    This is a bachelors award earned after studying using audio, video, text, pictures and others over the internet. The future of the digital degree is;
    Institutions especially higher learning will invest more into recruiting and workshops to teach their staff hardware and software used to lecture and communicate class information across all students.
    The institutions will register an increased absenteeism of students in the physical lecture rooms which saves them the cost of furniture and large space for straight lectures
    The institutions will need to do alot more on investment into school infrastructure like building & updating webpages, networks & it’s devices and other hardware for wireless communication.
    However, there are challenges like;
    The cerficates awarded still have a low acceptance from older generation companies in this country, simply because of the increased fraudulent behaviour registered overtime.

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