My wife, Dallas, had a chat this past week with a young lady who completed her high school education at home and went off to college this past fall. Home for Christmas, she talked about her experience.
She’s attending an extension campus of the main institution where she was accepted, and, when she graduates, she probably will never have attended the main campus. In addition, she’s pairing classes from another university that ‘customizes’ her experience to fit her needs. Wow, what a concept: individualized education! Much of what she’s doing is on-line, too.
I often wonder if/when our high schools, colleges, and universities are going to ‘reform’ and really understand the nature and future of education. So much of what we’ve seen in the past is ‘formal’ in-the-classroom stuff and there’s so much available now on-line. An article on Mashable says, “The education system of the 20th century is built around institutions: schools, colleges, academies and universities…Online-based institutions have started from several niches (education for children with disabilities, advanced placement programs, test preparation) and are approaching mainstream education.”
That’s the future: education is going to take place ‘in the cloud’ and not at a fixed place. Classroom? Who needs them?! I did a recent on-line video chat using Skype with a group of students at the university I attended, Pepperdine, who were interested in working overseas. Four of us were interviewed: two were physically present in the room with the students, and two were not (I was in Orlando and another in Chile).
Books? Many publishers are scrambling trying to figure out how best to ‘compete’ in this new dawn of education. So much in the past has been controlled by profs publishing their texts and then requiring students to purchase their materials from their publisher. As student’s move more toward on-line availability of information, this is changing. How-to videos are more engaging than books, on-line simulations are better teachers, and a simple ‘Googling’ of a topic brings thousands if not tens-of-thousands of options. The student of the future that excels will have to learn how to sort through all the hits identifying the nuggets of pertinent information.
Finally, we now carry our window to the world in our hands. Smart phones give us access to information and education 24/7. And, while this technology is mostly limited to those of us in the ‘developed’ world, it’s coming fast to others. In the world I’m most familiar with, missions and Bible translation, technology is opening new vistas and opportunities. I had to chuckle when I read an article recently that mentions the use of new technology by nomadic Bedouins. No longer do they decide where to camp based on water; their campsite is determined by cell towers!
We live in an incredible day where access to information is more readily available than in any other period of history. The educational institutions that will survive and thrive in the 21st Century are learning how to adapt and employ new technologies.