The end of face-to-face college instruction!
That is the startling scenario that a panel contemplated Thursday night as a forum opened on The Future of Higher Education at The New School University in New York.
Looking 20 to 30 years out, “The wealthiest institutions will continue to provide face to face instruction. Other universities will not be able to afford to deliver instruction face-to-face any longer,” said Neil Grabois, former provost of Williams College and president of Colgate University. He is now dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School.
Grabois said he envisions classrooms with holograms of instructors and an increased use of artificial intelligence to assist individual students. The technology for such a classroom is under development.
Other panelists piled on. “Our modes of teaching are really obsolete,” said Jamshed Bharucha, president of Cooper Union. “The way most teaching is done is not aligned with how the brain works. The dirty little secret of learning is that you forget.”
Many college instructors dump knowledge into students as if it will be retained forever, said Bharucha. But students would retain more if teaching was more interactive and interdisciplinary, and more enveloped in technology. “The precious time in a classroom should be used in a more dynamic way than we are using it now.”
The changes are coming to a head because of the unsustainable cost structure of higher education and the growing backlash of students and parents against increasing costs (The session was marked by angry outbursts by students against Matthew Goldstein, president of the City University of New York, which just imposed another series of tuition increases.Goldstein was also on the panel).
“We have brought a lot of this on ourselves,” said Grabois. Somehow, the mission of universities “has changed from the social good to the private good.” Looking through the history of higher education, “at times of large change, those are times when pedagogical changes are almost imposed on us if we don’t do it ourselves.”