92 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
school students today are questioning their interest in a university
What does this mean for the future?
University education is not going away, nor should it. Many universities
remain institutions of deep knowledge and rich learning, and they will
continue to be so in the future. However, turning a blind eye to the
shifting landscape of what students do after high school would be as
irresponsible as doing nothing with that knowledge. There is plenty of
evidence that schools and other organizations have begun to respond to
these changes so that they can prepare current and future generations
for life beyond high school. So what can we expect to see in the future?
A Changing University Model
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are the tip of the spear when
it comes to counteracting the high cost and inaccessibility of university
for many learners. Increasingly offered by universities, community
colleges and companies like Coursera, MOOCs are professor-taught
university courses that are open for public consumption, usually for a
relatively small fee and sometimes for free. Through MOOCs, students
are able to tether various courses around their own interests and goals
to achieve not a diploma, but a collection of academic experiences that
reflect those interests and goals. MOOCs regularly offer certificates for
completing courses satisfactorily, and employers are increasingly keen to
consider these when hiring.
Combined with the high cost of a traditional university education, many
are predicting the demise of potentially thousands of universities,
particularly in the United States. Michael Horn, co-founder of disruptive-innovation think tank Clayton Christensen Institute, has predicted that 25
percent of universities will be bankrupt by 2030. Christensen himself has
professed a belief that this number could be well over 50 percent,
according to Jake New in an article for eCampus News.
Of course, these predictions are based on the status quo, and thus they
serve as a call to action for universities to become more agile and make