New Pew Report Points to Major Changes in Education by Year 2020

Barry Lenson

New Pew Report Points to Major Changes in Education by Year 2020

Major Changes in Education by Year 2020  “The Future of Higher Education,” a report from Pew Internet on the future of American higher education, finds that big changes are coming soon to a college near you. In preparing the report, researchers Janna Anderson, Jan Lauren Boyles and Lee Rainie polled a body of respondents that the report describes as, “1,021 Internet experts, researchers, observers and users.”

Of those polled, 60% agreed with a statement that by 2020, “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources . . . a transition to ‘hybrid’ classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings.”

Some respondents took the opposing view – in fact, 39% agreed with the statement, “in 2020 higher education will not be much different from the way it is today.”

So, what changes are coming? Here are some highlights from the report . . .

  • Big technological changes are already happening. The report states, “Some colleges are delving into hybrid learning environments, which employ online and offline instruction and interaction with professors. Others are channeling efforts into advanced teleconferencing and distance learning platforms—with streaming video and asynchronous discussion boards—to heighten engagement online.”
  • New economic realities will cause colleges to become less uniform.  Tapio Varis, a retired professor and principal research associate with the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, took part in the survey and wrote, “Traditional face-to-face higher education will become a privilege of a few, and there will be demand for global standardization of some fields of education which also will lower the level in many cases.”
  • Some respondents agreed that “distance learning” would be a major factor in changing the face of American higher education. Others continue to doubt its importance.  Also . . . some respondents felt that the location of “brick and mortar” colleges resulted in a better educational outcome for students; others felt it was not a factor.
  • The lecture model of education could go away. By the year 2020, professors could function more as guides who help students. But overall, more students will exert more control over what they opt to learn, and how.

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