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The end of university?

Online education is growing fast. Is there a chance it can completely replace conventional education: school and university? How school and university adapt to this new force?

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    Aug 2 2012: It will never replace all conventional education. There will always be a need for traditional universities. However universities need to embrace the learning technologies that are available and make education accessible for more people if they want to stay relevant.

    What are the benefits of a traditional University education? You are in a classroom with fellow students who you can have a social interaction with, share and build on ideas and create knowledge. With the way technology is advancing those same types of social relationships that are critical to learning can occur on-line. There are free tools like Google Hangouts which allow people to collaborate , and can see each other speak, see emotions, hear the emotion in the voice, etc... all which are valuable in traditional classroom learning.

    So it becomes a leadership issue in the universities if they want to lead the way and adapt these new technologies or not adapt and become irrelevant.
  • Jon Ho

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    Aug 21 2012: People always have this fallacy that when something new comes out, the old ones will become obsolete. Sigh. Universities role may be diminished somewhat, but it will remain a central point for students to begin their education (I dont consider grade/high school as learning centers, they're more akin to day care centers than a REAL center for learning)

    First, consider how knowledge was transmitted during middle ages : a student is apprenticed to a master and spend time learning his craft, which he eventually will. Do they have universities back then? No. However, the acquisition of skills was tedious and a very time consuming process, not to mention limited in scope.

    Fast forward several hundred years into the future and you have universities that provide assembly line technique of mass instruction. The downside to this is that this technique churns out an inordinate amount of journeyman, year after year. The dilemma then exist where corporations seeking master craftsman chooses to not employ these journeyman while the only way for these journeyman to achieve master craftsman skill is to finish a term of employment, leading to a Catch - 22 situation, but I digress. Universities have finally somewhat weakly incorporated apprenticeship in their "student internship" program.

    Again, fast forward several centuries again and here we are. Apprenticeship and universities are still around, and a new form of transmitting knowledge called online learning is taking its first few baby steps. The most obvious defects of online learning is that it is not localized; if you encounter problems you will be hard pressed to find a teacher in your vicinity. However, that weakness is also its strength; imagine learning French from a French teacher, or Japanese from a Japanese teacher, or String Theories from Michio Kaku's online classes himself. Imagine Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi holding an online Economic forum, open to everybody. Imagine; everyone is both a teacher and student.
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      Aug 21 2012: I agree with your saying that there's a fallacy that when something new comes out, the old ones will become obsolete. It's indeed a fallacy, sometimes it does (obsolete), sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, it means that the "old ones" still has some crucial value that the "new ones" not have.

      One thing I still have question is your last saying "imagine; everyone is both a teacher and student". I imagine a different world where only the best of the best is dominant in the field of education, to play the role as a master. Only knowledge from the greatest man is taken from all people in the world.

      Is it good or bad? I can't say for sure.
      • Jon Ho

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        Aug 22 2012: My friend, this process of taking the best, turning it into the dominant few and making the most out of it automatically, is already here. It's called Power Law/Pareto Distribution/Long Tail Theory. ;)
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    Aug 1 2012: I don't think it'll be completely replaced, but I think the online education will become the game changer to the playing field. Universities wouldn't be offering lectures anymore, but probably more open discussions.

    Universities would probably focus more on the social learning of things, rather than the actual content of the learning. Courses would probably be more project based or group-oriented imo. And then, maybe more essays perhaps.

    So pretty much what Lawren said about the group environments.
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      Aug 1 2012: "Universities would probably focus more on the social learning of things, rather than the actual content of the learning." I think you have a good point.

      Some values can be shifted online and some can't.
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        Aug 1 2012: Yeah, the thing about online learning is that it's great for learning things on your own, but fundamentally it may never hope to be as good enough to teach you how to work with others in a social environment like a traditional class room should/can do.

        So, there is place for both, and they each need to capitalize on their strengths.
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          Aug 5 2012: Apart from social environment, Importantly Universities will continue to provide labs / space and equipments for experimentation, specialists who will either physically or remotely guide.
          What would change may be is time span for the courses it may just be tailored to individuals 1 month if you wish, 6 months if i opt :)
          Mix and match any subject with any other subject in the universe create a unique course for your self :)
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        Aug 6 2012: @Ashwin

        That is true, universities do have labs and special equipment, but not all schools can have such luxuries.
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          Aug 6 2012: Yes, Universities will put their major effort in creating network of specialty labs and felicities at affordable costs to schools, or rather say as these schools it self will be converted into specialty labs by Universities and connect them to central best of the class facility.

          This will eventually promote local innovations, these may fuel global solutions too

          For example: I am an animator who do lot of experiments, i can get soft skills and tools with help of online community. But when it comes to equipments and labs i just cant afford to hire it for experiments. Universities can felicitate this experimentation not just with hardware but also inviting best in the trade people to guide
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        Aug 6 2012: Indeed, this should be another plus for going to universities.

        I think the schools may not only increase in research departments and labs, but also increase more class-discussion-based courses perhaps.

        Maybe, Universities can let students from high schools to come in to the lab too for a little bit, since universities themselves already got the infrastructures, which are expensive for high schools and under.
  • Aug 11 2012: From the perspective of the student - I see Brick and Mortar Universities largely having to change their business model, as they are loosing their monopoly on being the "primary source" of upper education. The "drivers" - cost (least cost for the student), time flexibilty, and ability to change commitments. My personal opinion is that the Universities may have to operate on less Government money, (as it will be in short supply), and increase partnering activities with private industries for complementary funding. The cost for making an education "module" is recording a series of lectures, posting them online, and possibly designing some testing; however, once it's completed, it can be re-used ad infinitum.
    The same will happen with text books (being "on-line", and available for free).
  • Aug 8 2012: This is not the end of the university, but a new phase in its evolution. What is really going to be interesting is what happens to courses as they are created for use in the online venues. Some will be used to create revenues through grants, tuition or other industry support. But what happens to the older courses or the courses that were developed conscientious educators, who didn't know how to market them effectively? The answer is that they will be offered for free in more and more locations.

    As these free venues proliferate hod do they compete for the eyeballs? Offering greater and greater utility for the user, in the form of ease of use, accessiblity, snob appeal, or quality of presentation.

    I suggest the quality of presentation offers the most interesting factor in the race to the marketplace.
    Ultimately,the very best instructors will come to the forefront in their fields. Over the course of the next 10 years we are going to make rockstars out of the best teachers and instructional designers.
  • Aug 7 2012: Online education is not only a better option where applicable but it makes education more accessible, flexible and not place or time bound. This reduce the pressure on existing infrastructure of universities and carbon emissions produce to get to and from universities.

    Technology is progressing so fast that face to face learning can easily be replaced through online video and audio platforms. The success of the online education system would be in the maintenance and quality control.

    The online education systems should also be open source, all information should be open source, where everyone can have universalize access to education but qualifications are the true reasons we go to university. The universities can charge for examinations to obtain certified qualifications to generate revenue and then through targeted online advertising.

    This can go to the next level of social integration and networking where a online data base of peoples qualifications is created making it easy for employers to hire people with the required skills. Now all it takes it to convince the old-school academics to take the digital leap?
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    Aug 5 2012: I wouldn't say the end of the university. Technology is growing but it can be a good branch in education (university/ high school). I think those tools should work as a whole and not to work individually because there will always be issues that can be compensated for both parts. I would say that the issue is to think how technology can complement what I do in order to do it better.
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    Aug 4 2012: I've been following higher ed media, MOOOC organizers and theorists and academic bloggers. Administrators are more enthusiastic about online education than faculty, many of whom regard the prospect with deep suspicion (approaching foreboding) and great resistance. In some areas, the reaction approaches hysteria. Following all sides, I would not even try to guess which predicted changes will come to pass, just that there will be deep changes... quite likely upsetting to both sides. However, I would bet that both booster predictions and Jeremiah prophecies will be wrong.
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    Aug 1 2012: I don't believe that the group environment (labs, cooperative games, etc) can be completely replaced, but I foresee a day when most learning will take place online, which you would think might make learning cheaper without so much classroom and parking space needed.
  • Aug 22 2012: The obsolete university model can be used comparatively to the old brick and motor commercial stores like Wal-Mart which many say are becoming fast outdated with online shopping like Amazon. This may be true, but with one problem: while it is true that the economic transaction can be done online, the same cannot be said of customer service which still requires physical interaction to customers and handling of products. This goes the same with universities. It is true that in the future more students will attend classes online, but they will still need physically present labs, technicians, and open facilities for students to perform their homework assignments and lab experiments. I personally believe that both will complement themselves better to providing more universal access to education.
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    Aug 7 2012: Education is big business. Administrators look for new and better ways to "make money". They get state funding, grants, TV royalities for all games, research grants, tuition, and fees, fees, fees, ... On line is the best for profit diploma mill scheme ever invented. Probally 90% profit, one teacher thousands of students, no facilities, minimial expenses, ....

    Now here is the big question. Do on line classes meet the needs of the students or fulfill the requirement and demands of the end user.

    Some areas will always require the face to face hands on instruction. Some employers will always select university grads over diploma mill applicants.

    This will not mean the acceptance of one or the demise of the other. What will be required is that each will find their level and adjustment will have to be made. That will be harder for universities than for on line schools.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Aug 7 2012: An excellent articles: "What Will The Ed Tech Revolution Look Like?". Predictions for how the next 15 years are going to change how children learn, at school and at home. "High schools, and maybe even middle schools, will begin to operate less like factories and more like colleges." [Tim Brady]

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680231/what-will-the-ed-tech-revolution-look-like
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    Aug 6 2012: Online education can add value in teaching systems in universities like hybrid learning will bring the synergy in class as it gives good course design, time and cost saving (certain knowledge based videos can be archived to show instead depend on professionals)...when a teacher start using online education, he/she has to be part of it as it needs more attention to take care off...he/she will get immediate feedback about his/her teaching so they are in the position to revise their teaching methodology, update themselves!!

    In student pursue, they r very much interested to learn on their own space as generation expects, even now a days facebook,Skype like social network forums are helping for teaching
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    Aug 5 2012: I also agree with Derly Johanna, I think, the other most important thing is selection.
  • Aug 5 2012: To me it looks like the beginning of the end in teaching by traditional attendence at university. But it is clearly not the end of them, because they will still be needed to asses student's work and award certificates as well as develop the courses and to research new subjects (including teaching methods in the new medium).
  • Aug 5 2012: In the new online learning era, the universities should offer and coordinate more group projects to leverage on whatever the students have already learned individually on the online courses. Then the learning will move from students passively taking and learning from the online courses to resolving real problems and contributing to the real world by leveraging whatever they learned.
  • Aug 4 2012: University Educatin cannot be wiped out by online Education. I believe that online education could still be the best if blended with a little bit of F0F. Anyway, the future and how hard we can work holds the ultmate answer. But then, is the future here?
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    Aug 1 2012: I just watched Khan's presentation. I immediately shared it on my facebook. While I don't think it will be the end of the university, I do think it will redefine it exponentially. I think the new university will become two things. 1. Higher learning (much higher) and 2. Highly functional and profitible business communities. The university will become a place where we can actually come up with new ideas and put them to a real world test. Pilot studies for new business models. I like the possibilites :)
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      Aug 1 2012: I don't think any of your two points are critical of the future university. University must be a place to hook up people with ideas, give them a safe and free space to get together and think outside of the box. A profitable business model is not what define the purpose of university.
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        Aug 1 2012: I see. I misinterpreted the question. I would say online data will be the reference of choice. If one thinks globally, meaning sharing our learning with students of distant nations, then online becomes the medium for that purpose. The university would then adapt as a way to physically interact with each other socially. I think collaborative learning can be very powerful and might accellerate advancements in every field of study. The conventional model may become replaced only if we see the benefit of doing so. Perhaps we will begin to compare the conventional to the neo-conventional for lack of a better term. Great Question !