A Vision of The College of 2020
At the College of 2020 we spend a lot time blogging about what the future of higher education will look like – now I want to try to help you envision one potential view of the it. This is 2020 – while only 8 years from now, I believe the higher education landscape will look drastically different – primarily because of online content and mobile devices.
I believe that a majority of higher education students will take at least 80% of all of their classes online or in some online dominant hybrid format. The tablet will be the dominant learning platform and will contain all dynamic course content and will allow students to attend classes, online study groups, and parse through libraries with millions of volumes. Institutions will be defined by their apps and the way they structure content for mobile devices.
The tablet will also support global learning and allow students all over the world to participate in the same classes. Will there be degrees? Of course, but they will look strikingly different. Degrees will be based on accumulated points (much like credits), but students will be able to get them from accredited networks of institutions – the points will come from a large extended network of university partnerships. All students will still have a “parent” institution that they pay tuition to as well as associate with, but supplemental course content will be licensed from other institutions freely.
There will also be a content marketplace – much like an iTunes, and a vast majority of institutions will sell their own content to both individuals and other institutions. Institutions will focus on subject niches and will have less internal competencies around fewer focus areas that aren’t directly related to their core research. The best content will rise to the top and be purchased from other institutions. Then the “parent” institution will structure the content into programs. Both institutions and faculty will become content aggregators and conversation facilitators, but will do far less content creation.
The college cost debate will become increasingly focused on the value and outcome of the institution’s degrees – with more of the focus on actual performance metrics linked between specific programs and related industries. Degree and programs will continue to evolve to be more industry and career focused, even in the liberal arts. As consumers get more and more discerning they will be expecting a clear ROI for their investment before they even start. This will hit some institutions very hard, like small private liberal arts colleges that don’t have a strong brand name and very few performance metrics. The students that would have once chosen smaller private institutions will instead join larger extended online campus networks that are tied to larger institutional brands with a value priced product.