People don’t change, but the technology around them does, with that in mind I imagine the college experience 100 years from now, will be similar to college today. If you think about it, college back in 1914 was at its core the same as it is now.
The average college student left home to live on campus. They lived in dorms or apartments close to campus in groups. Classes were held in classrooms, laboratories or lecture halls. Students used books and were assignments, tests and grades. They created projects, participated in academic clubs and sports teams. They formed social clubs, held dances, parties and fundraisers. They participated in apprenticeships (what we commonly refer to today as internships)… some careers still require apprenticeships or residencies as an extended form of learning. What’s separates the college experience of today from that in 1914?
I started my college journey in the fall of 1994. The paperwork for college applications, financial aid, scholarships and schedule selection was horrendous. Computers were around but used mainly for data entry or word processing. In the library the internet was used for research purposes between the science, health and law libraries off campus. E-mail was used to communicate with professors, colleagues and some friends who were tech savvy.
One hundred years from now I believe classes will be completely “virtual”. These classes will not only be offered to college students, but primary and secondary students as well. Students may have the option of learning at home or an Electronic Learning Center. In the sci-fi reboot of Star Trek, a young Spock attends a virtual learning facility along with other children. The kids stand in “pods” and the information is given to them visually and verbally. The teaching system is no longer an actual instructor, but an intuitive computer operating system that teaches and evaluates each student depending on their specific level of progress. These learning programs may incorporate a bi or tri lingual program because English, Spanish, and Mandarin will be the dominant languages of education, business and healthcare.
The absence of a physical instructor and students replaced by an interactive learning system and virtual students may lead to what Marshall McLuhen referred to as “Auto Amputation”. In McLuhen’s book “Understanding the Media: The Extension of Man”, man becomes so dependent on technology he no longer recognizes himself without it.
Let’s hope the college experience in 100 years remains people centered, encouraging education and collaboration between students and their instructors. As Bill Gates once said, ““Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.”
For more information on education technology and the classrooms of tomorrow please check out the following sites.