From a higher education perspective, signals of change related the drivers described in The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code are proliferating. Among them:
- Erosion of barriers between the final years of high school and college
- Study abroad and gap year opportunities
- Cultural entertainment as part of education
- Processing reality through sound media
- Designer degrees where students pick courses to train for desired jobs.
A recent workshop with faculty at Maryland’s Howard Community College identified these and other signals of change. It also surfaced a variety of possible ways in which the changing landscape could impact teaching and learning. There is the potential to:
- Place more focus on wellness, lifelong learning, and service learning
- Foster understanding, respect, and appreciation for different cultures and points of view
- Connect education to health care and family care
- Lose interpersonal interactions as we rely on new forms of digital coordination
- Strengthen personal relationships to help navigate change
- Undermine confidentiality as more and more data circulates
- Set boundaries around information sharing
- Change how resources are accessed (e.g., what media is used and whether resources are rented or owned)
- Use platforms and/or networks to create new market opportunities or meet needs.
As you can see, this list of possibilities is not necessarily internally consistent, nor is it meant to be. In ten years’ time, any given driver of change that we can identify today could have multiple possible impacts, some positive, some negative, and some neutral. Some could accelerate or slow down when they intersect with other developments.
As higher education institutions consider how to respond to such implications, they face the dilemma of being repositories of invention, discovery, and ideas yet also having cultures and structure that tend to be well established and slow to change. “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide©” highlights the sector’s significant opportunity to broaden the kinds of supports and experiences that it provides learners while navigating a changing competitive landscape.
More specifically, higher education institutions have the opportunity to consider how they might:
- Expand support for non-traditional students
- Emulate the gap year through engaging and authentic learning experiences that resonate with students’ interests and meet their needs
- Learn from personalized activities outside education
- Encourage divergent thinking within connected communities
- Use network-based structures to help learners access the right experiences and connect with faculty and mentors
- Use new tools to broaden access and completion
- Broaden data use to help guide the selection of learning pathways and demonstrate the value of learning experiences.
As one higher education leader put it, “Higher education is both a bastion of its own status quo and a repository of innovation.” A changing employment landscape, shifting demographics, and new entrants will push many higher education institutions to evaluate their markets and offerings over the next ten years.