The Future of Higher Education


I am seeing the first tentative steps of the education sector towards digitalization. As a millenial I am a huge proponent of life-long learning and am regularly completing MOOCs on a variety of topics related to my professional activities. But MOOCs report a notoriously high drop-out rate, online education is still far from being accepted as an equal to traditional formats.
But where do you see the future of education going? Are MOOCs teh future? Is videoconferencing a good alternative to a physical lecture? Is gamification enough to motivate learners to complete a course?

Educational Technology
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
Life Long Learning
Skill Development
Vitali Auracher
29 months ago

6 answers


MOOCs are a very new worldwide format for education and I think that their future is bright and promising.
From what I have observed though, they are thought with the goal to reach adult learners in all parts of the world. I truly think that in order to keep students on board, some cultural analysis with a focus on how adults learn and what are their constraints and expectations depending of where they live is needed at this point.
The other important consideration is that adults who are looking for MOOCs to further their education, have a background knowledge and habits built on many years of learning in very different conditions. Some work needs to be done to align MOOCs on previous education model or vice-versa to align the education models that exist in primary and secondary schools to the MOOC model. We are not there yet.

Lysianne Essama
29 months ago
Thanks for your insights, Lysianne. I have to agree that MOOCs need to be modeled in a way to not only fit the learner's specific goals but also past experiences and knowledge level. It is quite difficult to assess how useful a specific course will be by merely looking at the description and the curriculum. - Vitali 29 months ago
MOOCs promise not fulfilled - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
However professional education can brighten future of youth adoption of technology. - J N Das 16 months ago
Maybe but professional education is not youth. - Dr. David E. 16 months ago

Lifelong learning requires an adequate school education (of course parents have to foster and accompany this). Fostering STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is the new buzzword to discuss raising competitiveness in science and technology. The idea is to present these topics more vividly at school to motivate more pupils to choose related topics later at university. The Talking Heads became famous for progressive pop music, which they combined with artistic videos. For this, it is no surprise that their former front-man David Byrne argued that “in order to really succeed in whatever… math and the sciences and engineering and things like that, you have to be able to think outside the box, and do creative problem solving… the creative thinking is in the arts.” Arts has be included into the concept (now STEAM) and the schools’ timetables. With a further step, educators underline the importance of reading. STREAM not only transports knowledge, it inspires, fosters a creative mind and sparks empathy. This not only for work, but all aspects of life.

STREAM supports that the individuals stay curious, which is mandatory to seek lifelong learning and MOOCs. If this is ensured for the society, we can discuss technical requirements.

Patrick Henz
29 months ago
Thank you for sharing, Patrick. The STEM concept was new to me but teaching science, technology, engineering and math makes total sense. Recently I stumbled upon a contrarian view on the topic. AI will increasingly take over the STEM-related tasks, so we should emphasize creative, artistic, problem-solving skills. Thoughts? - Vitali 29 months ago

MOOCs are indeed a great innovation in mass outreach and adult learners to learn new skills. However, they may not be very suitable for skill or knowledge development for students in colleges. Students need more information in terms of the fundamentals and the context more than the skills themselves in order to be able to integrate the skills in their knowledge and abilities. MOOCs are great in providing a perspective on the emerging knowledge areas but very poor in actually producing skill or knowledge outcomes for students. MOOCs require much more innovation interms of instructional design and pedagogical context to be able to fill the gaps in learning for the college students. This may partly be achieved by having peer reviews, extensive feedback, collaborative learning and other methods online. However, MOOCs are fundamentally designed to reach massive numbers but their completion rates are still woefully low. Self motivation and some practical experience, though not in relevant knowledge areas are "must haves" for responsible learning through MOOCs.
Video conferences are a good medium for teaching and interactions, however, they should not try to just replicate the physical teaching, which is not possible, really. Infact, any form of digital mode of teaching and learning cannot be looked at being able to replicate or simulate physical teaching. Physical teaching is far more complex to be amenable for effective "automation", even with today's technologies.The video conferences should be set in very specific contexts of pedagogy and learning where there is clear case for their intervention for the students. They do not serve as just a "teaching" or "lecturing" medium. Clarifying doubts, guiding discussions, giving feedback, connecting the concepts, peer reviews, expert opinion are useful use cases of pedagogy that could be delivered through video conferencing.

Shanath Kumar
29 months ago
I have to agree. As a recent Master's graduate I have a direct comparison between the depth of content and the level of interactivity you have in the university and from online courses. Also, as you correctly stated, MOOCs at the moment are mostly focused on presenting facts and rarely spark further discussion. - Vitali 29 months ago
Obviously - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
Do MOOCs = higher education? - Dr. David E. 16 months ago

I think the MOOC will be the future as it enables anyone to have access to courses. MOOC lessons are more and popular and recognized everywhere. The positive thing is that you could either attend to course held by an university or join platforms collecting offerings from different sources. I attended several MOOC courses during the last years and these were beneficial to my career. Video-conferences could be a good alternative to lectures.

Paolo Beffagnotti
29 months ago
I went to online medical shcool - Now, bend over and say Ah! - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
Maybe not in the medical area, but why not in other ones? For example IT, marketing, etc. - Paolo 16 months ago
I'll hire real degree; thanks. - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
To me, MOOC is useful as second step after university to dig more in something specific - Paolo 16 months ago
TRUE - nice to learn - NOT A DEGREE - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
You call out the right definition, most of the time is a nice to learn. People should not confuse this with a degree or a master. - Paolo 16 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 16 months ago

STREAM not only transports knowledge, it inspires, fosters a creative mind and sparks empathy. This not only for work, but all aspects of life. UBI (Universal Basic Income) can ensure the resources to comfortable survive a the next wave of robot-automation, but STREAM teaches the individuals to live.

The first without the second can lead to a dystopian future where homes converted to cocoons, as predicted by Faith Popcorn in 1981. Fast internet support multiplayer video-games and streaming platforms. Both medias tempt their users with progress-reports and auto-starts to stay more time online, as they originally planned. Just as the Irish poet Oscar Wilde said: “I can resist everything except temptation.” Such entertainment is powered by Artificial Intelligence, to that it not only replaces the human employee, but also ensures that it stays at home without stronger physical activities. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the Matrix!

STREAM is furthermore required to convert Big Data into Smart Data. This as Smart Data not only needs statistical relations, but also to understand a logical relation between data-sets. In future we will work with big data streams, which human and artificial employees need to understand and connect. Such a work does not only need mathematical skills, but critical and creative thinking.

Patrick Henz
29 months ago

An Educational IT Futurist  

Today, universities are finally beginning to identify students who are adept at learning online and reward the top achievers and professors. Employers and recruiting firms are beginning to troll MOOCs [massive open online courses] seeking viable job candidates.

In fact, when I last checked, the nation’s healthcare graduate students were enrolled in more than 118 online programs in business management and health sciences. MOOCs offer greater access for a larger number of students, at significantly lower costs than on-site programs.

By the same token, technology like Blackboard®, Cernage, eXplorance, Kalture and related must be used to full potential. Smart phones, PCs and tablets, videos, interactive games, simulations and related apps with Skype-like virtual classrooms and cloud storage are obvious embellishments to online initiatives.

Any thoughts?

Dr. David E. M
16 months ago
Finally, this wii expand opportunities to a larger audience. Then, in any case when talking about healthcare practice is needed - Paolo 16 months ago
But, are extremely basic and fundamental - Dr. David E. 16 months ago
Right, we can't deep too dive in the practical side in healthcare - Paolo 16 months ago
HC is different - Dr. David E. 16 months ago

Have some input?