We spend a lot of time thinking about education. Many of our partners provide educational software and services to faculty and students. And they regularly struggle with how to manage emerging technology.
No matter the context – higher education, high school, workforce training – educators are pressured to incorporate new technical advancements into their classrooms, yet they bemoan the limitations of these technologies. They’ve been burned over and over by the promise of a technological revolution in the classroom, and they don’t believe it. Many educators describe to us that something feels wrong about the way technology has been placed into their worlds, primarily as an archive of content and a “watch a video, answer a question” model of learning. We agree: as a first wave of educational training, the learning management system was innovative. But that was almost twenty years ago. Students of all ages expect a textured technological fabric for their work, and for better or worse, educational institutions need to change in order to remain relevant.
But change is not easy. This is particularly true in the university, where – for all of the best intentions – education has become steeped in costs, rules, and expectations. Public universities are held up to scrutiny, as taxpayers expect results for their tax dollars. This requires universities to expand their administration in order to measure, track and report student outcomes. This larger administration eats into funding for more experimental forms of in-class education, and adds a burden of oversight on educators who already feel strapped for time and autonomy.
In response, we see bits and pieces of a new model are emerging. This isn’t a wholesale change, as technology is hardly a silver bullet. In fact, in many cases, these new technology-driven models will negatively impact education instead of making it better. But these new models are arriving nevertheless, and our role is to help educators navigate that new world.
The Future of University Learning is an exploration into this new world of education. These are experiences that students will have, in support of changing educational and workforce demands, and made possible by technological advancements. We aren’t claiming that these ideas support positive learning outcomes, or that these ideas are any good – only that they appear inevitable.