Having just finished my very first online lecture on the history of the internet, I am both heartened and dismayed by the experience. Heartened that 34,077 students can enroll in a class taught by a single professor, but dismayed that education (online or otherwise) continues to push learning-by-rote and a lecture based knowledge-transmission model. One thing remains clear – this is only the beginning of the disruption of higher education as we know it.
It has ever been a great contradiction in education that the very institutions that further education also perforce restrict its access to a relative handful. Esteemed universities like Cambridge, Paris/the Sorbonne, and Bologna (commonly held to be the first university in the western world in 1088, preceded by even earlier ‘madrasas’ in eastern civilizations) have held themselves to a high standard of excellence, yet relatively few have been able to attend them due to lack of mobility, resources or perceived ability. Over the millennia, tradition has given way to change – women can now educate and be educated, and books and technology are the medium. Yet the basic knowledge-transmission model of an older, more experienced teacher ‘lecturing’ to students remains the same. And while e-learning is all set to revolutionize access to education, it remains unclear how it will impact this traditional knowledge-transmission model. This post is an attempt to break down shifts in higher education today, and predict how it will change in the next 5-7 years