Elon University

The 2012 Survey: Bricks and Clicks – What is the potential future of higher education and the Internet by 2020? (Anonymous Responses)

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2012 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.

Future of the Internet Survey PageAnonymous responses to a tension pair on higher education and the Internet in 2020

This page includes a sample of anonymous survey participants’ contributions to the discussion of the future of the Internet and higher education by 2020. This is one of eight questions raised by the 2012 Elon UniversityPew Internet survey of technology experts, stakeholders, and social analysts. Results on this question were released by Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie and Imagining the Internet Director Janna Quitney Anderson July 27, 2012.

In a recent survey about the likely future of the Internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split when it came to imagining what role the Internet may play in higher education by 2020.

>To read the official study report, please click here.<

>To read credited responses by participants, click here.<

>To download the full report PDF, click here or on the image on this page.<

Following is a large sample of the responses from survey participants who took credit for their remarks when sharing their thoughts in the survey. Some are longer versions of responses that were edited to fit in the official report. About half of the respondents chose to remain anonymous and half took credit for their remarks (for-credit responses are published on a separate page).

Survey participants were asked, “What will universities look like in 2020? Explain your choice and share your view of any implications for the future of universities. What are the positives, negatives, and shades of grey in the likely future you anticipate?” They answered:

“In the United States and Europe, we are likely to see very little economic growth through 2020, causing continued stress on government and private budgets. These pressures will accelerate the trend to distributed learning, especially with the continued deployment of broadband and better educational software. The top-tier schools likely will resist mightily, but the continued economic pressure even on upper-income parents will push them in this direction. The number of K-12 teachers educated through distributed technology is increasing, so their traditional antipathy to technology should go down. Even with their budgets in shambles, K-12 education may finally begin to take advantage of such technology. If so, then higher education will evolve more rapidly.”

“At my small institution I am leading our online learning pilot. I’m not doing it for kicks and grins; I’m doing it because it’s an inevitable direction. In the small library I manage, 60% of the professional staff and all of our library volunteers and interns are the product of fully online programs. We need to get on this bus. When I hosted a product demo of an online learning product, every faculty member who attended said afterwards, ‘We have to do this.’ I’m not sure about requirements for graduation. I know the current hype around ‘DIY U.’ Will that survive or is it a fad? Time will tell. But online learning is here to stay.”

“Students need to do eye-to-eye communication, and the professors need to know these people. There is more to life than staring at a screen.”

“Online learning has already proven that it has shortcomings, and it is not for everyone. The large body of knowledge available now will continue to grow, of course, and the need to cope with a changing world and more competitions will force a change, but the universities will be basically the same: schedules, requirements, grades, a teaching faculty, the need for personal contact. The resources available to the students will increase also, but how much of that gets used is another question.”

“You cannot underestimate the inability of educational institutions to change. Over the next fifty years there might be significant moves away from chalk-and-talk lecturing in universities. The next eight years will see only minor moves in this direction. Primary and high schools are moving towards the classrooms of the future much more rapidly.”

“Instead, how about: Choice One: In 2020, most universities will be bankrupt, tenured professors will be unemployed, and young adults will be walking the streets, looking for work or Choice Two: In 2020, colleges and universities will be growing at a fast pace, there will be a shortage of skilled and learned teachers, and student learning will blossom in this environment.”

“2020 is probably too soon, and the changes will start first in post- then undergrad (which is still a lot about socialisation and thus will remain campus-based). But learning itself should fragment. The interesting question is what society will deem as qualified to learn, as it were. And that is probably not just a high school diploma.”

“The higher education is not only about learning it is also about meeting with others, starting to build a network, and so on.”

“Distance learning and teleconferencing for education is cost effective in terms of both time and money. The high cost of education is a very significant social issue that technology can and will address. At the same time, increased accessibility to educational resources will result in new combinations of coursework and degree requirements.”

“Changes in educational delivery systems are undoubtedly under way, but nine years is not long enough to see the types of changes described in scenario two. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are not on the verge of trading classroom teaching for teleconferencing and distance learning. As exemplars of American higher education, most colleges and universities will continue to play by the rules modeled at elite universities such as these. Nevertheless, I expect to see an expansion of university options on the fringe of higher education. This will likely include more for-profit universities and increased use of distance learning. The role of vocational schools and community colleges will likely grow as well, driven by economic forces making traditional colleges/universities increasingly unaffordable for many families.”

“The traditional university model will be disrupted by low-cost educational institutions leveraging new technology in interesting ways. While gathering students together at a specific place and time for face-to-face interaction is important for some activities, in many cases educational lessons can be delivered faster and cheaper using other methods. Many of the university lectures I attended could have been delivered over the Internet with little impact on educational value. More importantly, the ability to have portable text, audio, and video devices might allow us to return to a more natural apprenticeship model, where education can be delivered within the work environment itself. Video game tutorials have pioneered a digital art of delivering lessons at the moment you need them. Imagine if similar techniques could be applied to business software applications.”

“Telecommunications and bandwidth capabilities will be such that everybody’s going to communicate face-to-face in class, even though they need not be all in the same physical location.”

“Higher education will be in transition, integrating virtual access to experts while forming stronger bonds between advising committees and their students.”

“Higher education is already moving away from the traditional face-to-face lecture halls to a more hybrid learning system made up of online and face-to-face sessions. Instructors are finding they can reach a broader audience in a more efficient manner through the use of technology. The learners are changing the way they choose to obtain their education. As academics get more comfortable with the technology and youth are exposed to online education at higher rates, we will see more of this type of instructional design.”

“Online learning often requires a lot more interaction and a lot more work than ‘live’ classes. I see hybrid classes providing the best of both worlds in the future. Group projects are easy to coordinate, and individuals participate more fully in online situations where expectations are more rigorous.”

“The saving of fuel, time, and distance play a big part in taking the class out of the classroom. Whether a student is in India, China, or rural West Virginia, they will all have access to a better education.”

“I see a trend for the second scenario, but in education things move very slowly. There are centers and pockets of innovation, but most higher education institutions move slowly. What will propel these institutions forward is cost. When technology can do things better and cheaper, the institutions will be forced to get creative. Also competition from the for-profits will matter as well.”

“If universities go the route described in the second scenario, then the descent into ignorance will accelerate even faster than it is currently.”

“While parts of the second choice are to a degree desirable, traditional instruction will produce the better outcomes if one is to value liberal studies and not the technocratic. Cost concerns, I fear, will drive us, as is unfortunate now, to the pay and pass rubric on the computer.”

“The age of brick-and-mortar dinosaur schools is about to burst—another bubble ready to pop. The price is too high; it’s grossly inflated and the return on investment isn’t there. Online learning will be in the ascendant. There will be more international interactions; I believe we will see somewhat of a return to a Socratic model of single sage to self-selecting student group, but instead of the Acropolis, the site will be the Internet, and the students will be from everywhere.”

“Higher education is continuously changing. But the general classroom setting will not be that much different in eight years.”

“Universities are in transition and will continue to be as technology evolves. They will utilize technology to save money and not necessarily to provide a richer learning experience.”

“In order for the transition to use of teleconferencing and other methods of using online education, more work and resources must be directed toward developing teaching methods and content that will provide effective learning experiences.”

“I think 2020 is too soon—mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning will depend on ubiquity of true broadband, especially widespread roll-out of fibre to the home. The tipping point won’t be reached probably until 2020, so I think it’s a ways off yet.”

“Funding issues will prevent most schools from fully embracing technology’s potential.”

“Competition for shrinking numbers of undergraduates, threadbare budgets, and access to cheaper technologies that exploit the possibilities of Web 3.0 will combine to revolutionize higher education. Hive models can be masterfully run by talented faculty who join the ranks without the perception of boundaries such as PowerPoint.”

“Textbooks will still be required for all courses, but all textbooks will have their own websites with lots of gadgets and devices to aid learning. The crossword puzzles in the study guide are now interactive. Class discussion has evolved to turning in a report every week, which is placed on a forum that all class members read and perhaps review. Questions are asked of the professor via email, and he/she responds on the forum so all can read his/her answer. The perennial question has not changed, ‘What is going to be covered on the exam?’ whether the exam is on paper or online. The professor no longer wastes valuable time assessing what his/her students have learned—that is the job of the test grader, a program which examines each student’s submission for the percentage of correct answers to multiple choice questions and records the result on the online database.”

“Institutionalization is over. Individualized educational experience is now the norm and continuous intellectual and professional development is already in place.”

“I think this shift has already happened.”

“The technology that will be used in 2020 has not been seen yet. However, there is no doubt that technology in learning will be significant. It will not just enhance learning, it will drive and lead learning methods. Right now, student and teacher have access to the same information. That needs to be exploited to turn the teaching/learning paradigm upside down. That should happen by 2020. Universities will need to let go of some cherished traditions and practices though!”

“I think it will take significantly longer than nine years for higher education to make changes like this.”

“2020 is only ten years off, and scenario two won’t happen by then! When my new grandson goes off to college in 2031, he may be in the first generation to have a significantly technologically enhanced university education. It’s a financial issue, not a pedagogical issue.”

“There will be a trend towards the reality suggested by the second statement, but there will be huge disparities between institutions (and regions) capable of offering effective technology-enabled education and those who cannot, as well as the degree different institutions can do so. Much of this will ride on what institutions do in the next two to five years with campus and regional infrastructure development. The more-advanced version of the future will also hinge on effective early adopter programs that prove/disprove (in local environments) the possibilities offered by new approaches. However, I would feel much more comfortable with my selection of the second option if we were discussing the year 2025 or 2030 instead of 2020.”

“The online courses I have seen are a simulation of education designed for student convenience and revenue generation for the universities.”

“The traditional classroom style of learning will all but disappear eventually. Anything you want to know or learn about can be found on the Internet. Hands-on learning will still be needed in some ways but not necessarily a group of students sitting in a room all learning the same thing at the same time.”

“The Harvards, MITs, Oxfords, and Cambridges will all be open universities with an unrestricted number of seats. Lecturers can record their classes, and those should be hosted on the Internet, which can be accessed via on-demand at affordable prices for all. Education should be accessible to all.”

“A synthesis of the two will happen. Communities (municipalities) will create ‘nodes,’ so to speak, where education and knowledge is the primary end of the node group members. Within these nodes will be topical conversations, which will include both textual presentation (akin to a Knol, or wiki article), current debate, and ongoing conversation, perhaps even in a conferenced video conversation. These nodes should operate on a tiered system, where the discussions and facts that are higher in the priority list would be upgraded to a larger node tier (State > Federal > International), which would inevitably be decided by a viewer rating system. Ratings by more reputed individuals would have more bearing then any amateur, but popular opinion is definitely taken into account. The way in which students corroborate information with current affairs and their lives allows them to intake new information and apply it to a support structure of information.”

“I wanted to choose ‘somewhere in between these two options.’ The academy is slow to change, and there is still value in face-to-face education.”

“I see this trend now. I’m an online graduate student with a few required residencies in my program. I believe technology will allow us to customize higher education. Again, the economy plays a role. As much as I am an advocate of ‘learning for learning’s sake,’ it is difficult to justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher education with the job market so dismal.”

“Lifelong learning will become even more important in the future to ensure a person is able to participate in nearly all aspects of society. This reality will force universities to make their classes and other educational offerings available virtually through digital technologies. Furthermore, even the students attending college on a full-time basis on campus will have grown up using digital tools throughout their K-12 education and will expect that college courses will be ‘hybrid,’ combining online learning in conjunction with their classroom experience. Those universities that resist this reality will struggle to attract students.”

“I hope for scenario one. The scenario laid out in paragraph two is one that I fear and one that I deem detrimental to both learning and to the proper goals of higher education: to allow students to become contributors to their own community and society. The second scenario is one where universities and colleges become mere private businesses, whose main aim is to make a profit from education. The corollary to this is that students become customers, not learners, and that they are ‘passed’ in order to please them and acquire new customers. In the second scenario, there is mention of ‘subject-mastery.’ This is an administrative term, not one that is used by teachers. There is no such thing as ‘subject-mastery’: The proper aim of education is to give students an ability to maintain an open mind, to question ‘facts,’ to keep learning throughout their lives, not to stop at so-called ‘mastery,’ and not to separate ‘subjects’ from their context of use and usefulness to their communities. Individualised learning is defeating to these community-enhancing and contributory purposes.”

“If higher education does not change it will be forced to from the reformation of the PK-12 education system. Many of the successful people today dropped out of college due to their own learning, which came untraditionally.”

“Universities need to change. The costs of buildings and their maintenance are ongoing, while population dynamics are almost unpredictable as each individual school faces an ever-widening range of competition. The students will consider to desire the most prestigious diploma possible, giving an inherent advantage to top-tier schools. The ability of the Internet to broaden the student body without needing to invest in expensive geography means that top-tier schools can branch out worldwide. They will probably still require some form of residence, but of much shorter duration, say two years, doubling their throughput. The remaining, variable time will be the students’ responsibility. Schools will continue to build their reputations through research and even increase the balance in that direction by sharing courses among themselves and creating something like a conglomerate of like schools—think Ivy League conglomerate.”

“This vision of the future has already begun to manifest.”

“Hybrid classes will proliferate, and the pace of change will be fairly dramatic, accelerating rapidly four to five years from now. We already see greater flexibility in program requirements and different ‘unofficial’ trends towards individually oriented outcomes. I could certainly see reasons to argue that the changes will be less traumatic. Slow change has certainly become an established pattern. The current system is broken. Both students and societies will be intensifying their demands for relevance, and this will drive rapid and unexpected changes.”

“Higher education will change dramatically. Already, online universities are growing exponentially, and most of our major universities offer a wide selection of online courses. I think there will be a learning curve here, and the race will go to the tortoise, not the hare. My hope is that online and hybrid classes will bring the cost of a college education down to a level affordable by middle-class Americans. Individual-oriented, customized outcomes will be a plus, along with the shift already begun toward work preparedness.”

“I very much agree with the second scenario, in large part because I see declining federal and state investment in education leading to ‘customized’ education for people from different class backgrounds. Kids from families with very little money will get mass-produced education where they teleconference with teachers who have perhaps hundreds or thousands of students. Meanwhile, kids from wealthier families will have customized education with lots of valuable attention from many expert teachers.”

“Actually, both models will coexist, but the most ‘progressive’ universities will have adopted model number two. It allows them to tap resources independently of geography, and that’s a big asset for universities not to have to lock professors in one place.”

“The future is already occurring.”

“Neither is 100% accurate. Chances are we’ll get something in between the two scenarios, but with a slight tendency towards the first. Universities are not going to die anytime soon.”

“The world of education is not able to react so deeply in a short span of time. So by 2020 the situation will remain mainly as it is now, with some innovation. Developing countries and even mature developed countries will drag their feet on these innovations.”

“Yes, the shape of universities will go through a drastic change. Research and development activities will rule.”

“For graduate professional education, higher education will be quite different, with more distance learning. For undergraduates, I’m not so sure. Part of undergraduate education is the experiential component—socialization, learning to live away from home and so on. On the other hand, higher education needs to change its business model. Tuition and textbooks are too expensive. And there is a benefit to students interacting in a class discussion that doesn’t always work online (I am a professor).”

“I teach in a small liberal arts college where the mode of instruction has been the same for nearly a hundred years. The value added of private colleges and universities is generally in the connections students make. Additionally, sports are a large part of the college experience, again suggesting the continued place of the residential college for the rich. Community colleges and large public commuter universities will likely keep adding to low-cost/high-profit opportunities like online teaching. I don’t see individual outcomes and capacities superseding standard assessment—they are more expensive to provide, and ours is a time of cuts.”

“It is my hope that universities will move in this direction, but they are doing it too slowly. Their pace reminds me of newsrooms’ adapting too slowly to digital opportunities. If traditional universities don’t move in this direction, they will find themselves facing daunting, start-up competitors who will deliver educational value at a lower prices for students coming from a contracting middle class.”

“The positive 2020 future will come only if higher education survives other economic and demographic trends at all. Degree inflation, massification of education, student debt, the degradation of faculty due to a race to the bottom in salaries, and an increasing disconnect between industry and higher education might just sink the entire system.”

“Professors are mostly at universities to do research, not to teach. Many of the most important skills that students need have too few teachers available to teach them. Think: high-end data analysis, DNA counseling, social media marketing, etc. So students take classes where they’re expected to do the translation for the jobs that they might have even though they have no skills in translating information (and neither do their professors). Most importantly, universities are going to be complicated by the fact that what’s actually acquired at university has nothing to do with skills—it has to do with social connections. Thus, schools like Harvard or Stanford offer a far more superior opportunity than smaller schools, not because of the quality of the education, but because of the quality of the students. Given the pressure for everyone to go to college and the failure to realize that what colleges offer are social networks, students are going to be increasingly disappointed by the outcomes of a degree. I don’t expect the university system to change much in the next nine years, but I expect it to be heavily under siege by 2020.”

“Universities and education will have to change, and technology will certainly play a role, although it is not so likely to be in the classroom. I suspect that ‘classes’ will play smaller and smaller roles, with greater automation and guidance, supported by peer, or near-peer interactions at a more personal level. I am not confident we will see ‘customized’ outcomes, since I doubt that the market for education-based competence will develop in ways that support linking greater diversity in capability to their potential applications by employers (we just don’t know enough about what specific skills are needed for future jobs).”

“Education will be a near-lifetime activity, more oriented toward practice and applications. As was pointed out recently in the field of mathematics, how many college graduates will actually have to solve a quadratic equation in the course of their careers?”

“Education will become even more earnings-oriented, while at the same time more of it will be expected. It will take longer to become independent; youth will be competing with their parents for jobs.”

“You have to teach people how to think and analyze. The data is only part of what we need as humans.”

“Option two is possible, but not by 2020. It’s more likely that the second option will find its way into community colleges and professional institutions that are already competing for students and under tremendous pressure to cut their budgets. The traditional universities will eventually be forced to move to these more innovative approaches, but it will take much longer for them to get there.”

“The two scenarios are the extremes of a spectrum, and 2020 is too soon for one or the other to dominate (academia can be highly resistant to change). The outcome will be a mix—there will still be a role for brilliant faculty as educators, and the best will take full advantage of what the new technology can offer. In 2020, I would expect the transition to ‘hybrid’ classes to still be in progress. On the other hand, I question the emphasis on individually oriented outcomes—particularly in technical areas, there’s a need for a reference standard for subject mastery (e.g., the question is not whether a structural engineer has fulfilled his or her potential, but whether she/he can design structures that don’t fall down when they’re not supposed to). The outcome will necessarily be a mix—there will be standards that have to be met (e.g., another example is that the bar exam for lawyers is not going away any time soon), but there will be considerable flexibility in educational techniques to enable students to meet those standards.”

“The correct prediction is in the middle somewhere. Higher education is reaching a breaking point for expense, where it is not possible to sustain all of the infrastructure we have now, paid for in the ways it is, and still accommodate all the people seeking the degrees they do. Thus, there will be transformations, and some of those will involve technological changes as outlined in the second choice. However, higher education has always been about more than ‘book learning.’ The college experience for undergrads is also one of socialization, personal experimentation in life choices, exposure to new ways of doing things, socialization across different cultural divides, and making choices (among others). These aspects of higher education are not supported by distance learning or individualized programs. At the grad level, there are also issues of training in more advanced aspects of a discipline, professionalization, and independent inquiry in a resource-rich environment. Again, there are aspects here that are not well supported by any of the technologies touted as replacing traditional higher education.”

“Though online courses are becoming popular for graduate school and some undergrad courses, I don’t see the traditional college classroom going away. People still want the college experience of going away from home and ‘finding themselves’ in the exciting college years.”

“Lets hope we don’t simply spend all our remaining time left squabbling on which song to play, while the existing system steers carefully and assuredly towards the iceberg of anarchy.”

“The cultural change on higher education in order to encompass a deeper use of technologies and customization of courses and classes may take longer to occur.”

“My answer is more a hope than a prediction. Much instruction at the university level tends to be rather useless, as a sideline to research. The students who succeed aren’t learning what they’re being taught as much as they are learning how to learn, and teaching themselves the basics. But now, how to learn is changing, and instruction must change with it. However, as there’s been no significant change in this area since 1995 (except what (American) universities can charge for a diploma given the financing available), I am not optimistic.”

“This change isn’t so much about a change in the educational system as it is about a change in the financial system. Decentralization should have a positive affect on the availability of higher education and should tend to reduce the costs. However, this may have a detrimental affect on the traditional college-funded research programs by reducing the up-front inflow to the college endowments. There may be a substantial shake-up post 2020 in the collection of first-tier universities. That said, there should continue to be a requirement for hands-on, in-person training for most science-based higher education of some flavor—chemistry labs, physics facilities, etc.”

“There will be a mix; neither of these scenarios will predominate. There are already vast numbers of people picking up practical knowledge through distance learning and online courseware, and I think that this trend will accelerate for adult education and job-skills acquisition. You won’t get an undergraduate degree from Berkeley or Stanford or Harvard or Yale from your parents’ basement. Doing so would belie the real purpose. Universities—where 17-year-olds turn into 21-year-olds and learn to make do for themselves for the first time, buy their first vacuum cleaner and their first cookbook, hold their first dinner party, and negotiate their first lease—these are about making the transition to adulthood and independence and have to be done in the real world.”

“It should be number two, but it likely wont be because universities are highly resistant to change and innovation and the emergence of new business models.”

“Universities and learning are undergoing great change and will continue to undergo great change. It will remain a challenge for some academic fields, such as those that require some lab learning. I believe most students will tend to prefer on-campus learning—but students who do not like learning on campus will avail themselves to such options.”

“The real breakthrough in education will be due to affordable telepresence. Online learning has its place, but for many classes, interpersonal interaction between students and with the instructor is vital.”

“I can see a time when the need to physically go to university will be counteracted by the online facilities, which will not necessitate more than a virtual presence.”

“There will still be on-campus, in-person classes, but technology will enable and facilitate interactions among different classes on different continents and across multiple disciplines. There will be less emphasis at the undergraduate level on specific ‘majors,’ and more on being prepared to master new or otherwise different fields of endeavors.”

“The classroom will be different, but it will be instrumentally produced—e.g. the symptom (lack of jobs) will be seen as a ‘cause’ for reducing face time in the classroom. The symptom, however, refers not to a problem with education, per se, but rather to the decision by the political elite to export jobs to other parts of the world. Good for the rest of the world, bad for the environment, miserable to terrible for anyone under 30 today. I am glad I am not entering the workforce now, but I don’t think it’s technology that’s driving the push to change the classroom, even though many insist that that’s the primary cause—they are determinists and not looking very hard at the social forces driving the push to technicize every aspect of daily life.”

“The culture of higher education has substantial inertia. It is likely that a significant bubble is building. Tuition is rising too fast, and the higher education is on a path to pricing itself out of the market. Already, the earning potential of some degrees in the liberal arts do not justify the costs, particularly in light of crushing student loan debt. In the face of increasing use of Web-based instruction, universities continue to build physical buildings; it seems donors are less impressed with having a website named for them than a chemistry building or art gallery. New technologies make it possible to obtain knowledge on the Web for free or at low cost. However, higher education has a monopoly on degrees and accreditation. This will hold up until employers lose faith in the value of those degrees. There is a precarious bubble; nevertheless, I do not think the bubble will burst by 2020.”

“Many new approaches intended to harness new technology will be found lacking. Some subject matters, such as learning foreign languages, may lend themselves to personalized correction and guidance than biology, for example. Some subjects, such as biology, music, or chemistry, may still call out for hands-on involvement, in spite of the theoretical components being amenable to distance learning. But overall, even distance learning will become more immediate, as technological advances will allow it to more closely mimic real-time, face-to-face dialogue and group discussion, complete with non-verbal cues. Sadly, some universities will compete with gimmicky approaches intended as recruitment tools and fall for unproven promises of results instead of seeking validation, but after the shake out, backlash, and regrouping, we will find many superior methodologies (whether as replacements or enhancements). More importantly, we will find means of making higher education more widely available to those who seek it for the sake of learning rather than as a prerequisite for a degree.”

“The higher-education establishment will be very much like today. Higher-education learning may have changed for a part of the population. A huge effort is required to promote institutional change, openness, and access to educational opportunities for the disadvantaged (poor, marginal, oppressed, etc.).”

“The option I chose is already happening. 2020 is a reasonable time frame for this transition to be well underway.”

“Hybrid is cheaper than in-person classrooms, as is online learning. It is also newer and less subject to standardized measures of success.”

“As a worker in a university, I know that these changes are happening right now and already lead to higher student engagement.”

“I wish the advanced choice would be prevailing, but I think it will still be the minority of universities organized like this. The majority of North American and European universities will reach that level of sophistication in their teaching praxis, but majority of African, and possibly Asian universities, as well, will simply be too poorly funded and have too many students to allow the level of personalisation and modernisation of studying and assessment arrangements as proposed. But the good practice of 2020 will be as described in option two offered.”

“Education still needs to be in schools and universities, which are still the proper place to get a degree and learn from others. Technology will never replace interacting directly with people and colleagues. We are, as humans, social beings. We will always need to be in direct contact with others, and technology will make this simpler, but it will not replace it because it is against our nature.”

“Just as today we have educational institutions that are able to take advantage of high technology to improve, rather than automate, education, the same will happen in 2020. In volume terms, there will be more institutions digitalizing mediocrity than institutions taking advantage of technology to go beyond what is possible today. This, however, is not different from what education and technology have done in the past.”

“I don’t know if the changes will be as proposed, but I expect significant change. The Internet has revolutionized many other fields, the Internet seems ripe to support radical change in education, and there are many parents globally who seek advantages for their children. Thus significant change seems highly likely.”

“There will be more of a transition away from content—which anyone can Google—to learning how to be learners, more of a focus on digital literacies and collaboration, preparation for many careers during their lifetime. There will still be specialization for engineers, scientists, doctors, and so on, but that will be a small minority of the student population. Humanities will suffer.”

“I tend to see higher education, particularly graduate education, as bifurcating. The best schools will still add value by participating in an on-campus community that I don’t think will be replicable online. I tend to see increasing number of online graduate degrees, which probably will impart information but not do a particularly good job of encouraging critical thinking (which I feel requires more serendipitous discussion than technology affords).”

“I really hope traditional learning in classrooms and lecture halls continues. It seems a long, slow process but is beneficial for students, society, and yes, lecturers.”

“I would like to see more of the second option by 2020 but expect inertia will make it hard to overcome the current higher education model. Economics will be of critical importance to which model wins out. Long-term economic stagnation will make it that much harder for ‘working class’ families to send their kids to college (or to see the value of doing so). This might encourage the mainstream appeal of ‘hybrid’ models. It might revert higher education to the luxury that it was prior to 1945.”

“Although the learning experience will change a lot in the following years, online classes will not replace on-campus classes to a significant degree. Online interaction has shown too many drawbacks compared to face-to-face interaction: Non-verbal communication cannot be conveyed using online media, and the efficacy/efficiency of offline groups is still too much higher than online groups. The learning experience is also a social experience where students need to grasp not only academic resources, but also share experiences, learn from others, and experience a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. These goals wouldn’t be easily reachable in an online setting. On the other side, the ‘lecture’ will change. Professors will need to adopt new technologies in such a way that the students become a more active part of the learning experience. More than teaching, professors will need to become an enabler of the learning experience of students.”

“Higher education is big business. Investments in infrastructure, land, technology, and other capital will not be abandoned. Instead, current institutions will remain very much the same and service those that have the financial means to attend. Outside of the traditional institutions, alternatives, such as those mentioned in the second choice, will grow in numbers. Because they do not rely as heavily on physical locations, but rely more on Web-based technologies, these schools will be more affordable and more widely available to the middle class.”

“This is too tight a time frame for universities to change dramatically. Among other things, universities are training grounds for young people to become independent of their parents, so physically congregating on a campus will continue to be important. There is too much invested in the current infrastructure of higher education for it to dissolve in several years. It strikes me that there will be strata of higher education, ranging from the full-on residential college to distance learning, and people will be able to choose from that continuum. Ideally, this would not be hierarchical in terms of status, but I suspect the residential college model will continue to be the model for wealthier students with more leisure time and less pressure to work.”

“Universities as they are constructed and paid for today cannot maintain what they do now. They will have to add video classes and distance learning, etc.”

“Some aspects of both ring true. I picked the second, as a master’s program that I direct here at the University of Georgia is currently undergoing a transition to incorporate more distance-learning components. We plan to keep a hybrid model, though, that includes a significant amount of face-to-face instruction.”

“Distance learning is a cash cow that will not be ignored by higher education. There has been much talk of a higher-education bubble and if it will burst. I think administrators at major colleges and universities view distance education as a financial silver bullet (diploma mill) to shore up income should the recession negatively impact enrollments. That said, I believe that many elite universities will continue to shy away from distance education, stressing in promotional materials their quality.”

“Distance-learning programs have not proven successful for either undergrad or graduate work. They are terrific for adult learning.”

“The trend toward multi-channel hybrid college educational programs is already happening and will only increase due to expedience, cost savings, access to more students, and student demand. My hope is that we will use distance education as a good supplement to face-to-face educational programs, enriching the educational process, and not using new technologies to replace more traditional pedagogical methods.”

“Teleconferencing and distance learning are valuable tools but have been available in various forms for decades. They will remain niche solutions, while valuable in those situations.”

“The abandonment of in-person, on-campus attendance at university may come, but not that soon, and it won’t be an improvement—it will be a cost-containment approach that results in a degraded higher-learning experience for all but the most privileged students. High-speed communication technology is excellent for research but of little value in pedagogy; teleconferencing is no substitute for face-to-face discussion. The bandwidth is simply not comparable. Experts are useful as oracles, but usually hopeless as teachers. Just-in-time learning contradicts everything that genuine education is about.”

“This one is a case of ‘predicting the present’—because 18-year-old freshmen embarking on four years at a bucolic residential college still makes up the default metal model of college, and much of the discussion has failed to note that a good chunk of Scenario B, projected for 2020, has already happened in 2011. A significant percentage of Penn State’s ‘distance learners’ are actually campus residents who take some of their classes online to help manage their schedules. When even residential students start preferring online classes to face-to-face, the shift has happened. This will continue to be masked by national regard for residential liberal arts colleges, but any survey of 1,000 students taking any for-credit course would include only small numbers of that population in the total.”

“Future trends rely on political and economic change more than pedagogical approaches or technological innovation.”

“I’m not sure how overwhelming the impact will be, but it probably will be significant particularly at the community college level and internationally, in regard to aspects of universities that are hard to scale.”

“I chose the second option, but you should probably change 2020 to 2025 or 2030. There are too many professors who will need to retire before higher education changes significantly. It’s not to say that they are not trying, but I think the conceptual change shift is too much to recognize. At some point, the changes technology has to offer increase at a speed that creates difficulties for most people. For many people it has also created a wider generation gap. Education is a microcosm of how, throughout our society, technology has changed the basic structure of how things are done. Why this has happened is the bigger question. I am a fan of hybrid classes that fuse face-to-face and online work. Standards should be higher for schoolwork, and teachers should be given the time and resources to succeed. Some online degrees deserve credit, but many do not prepare the learner for the real world. A degree is another piece of paper that is meaningless in many cases. Our pride for being the smartest and greatest country in the world is being diluted by shortcuts and greed. I do see how individual degrees and subject mastery can customize graduation outcomes. Experience has to be considered, and this would accommodate second and third careers, giving older citizens the option of prolonged productivity and contribution. How this is assessed and molded into a viable program is another question.”

“Higher education will change, but 2020 is a little short on the time horizon for any significant shifts to take place. Having watched the scene for a long time (my PhD was in 1963), things change slowly.”

“While higher education will continue to evolve, change is slow, and I don’t think the overall system will be much different.”

“The second scenario will be a mixed bag at best. Much of it is driven by economic pressures and forces that do not actually value education. In-person will remain the increasingly expensive gold standard. ‘Just-in-time’ learning is how most students approach tests to begin with. It won’t necessarily enhance deep or lasting learning of a subject. Shifting the emphasis to ‘customized outcomes’ will lead to narrow-minded and less flexible students.”

“Universities change slowly, says this professor emeritus. There will be movement towards the ideas in the second choice, but it will occur significantly later than 2020.”

“There is not adequate incentive for leading universities to be innovative. In fact, they are strongly disincetivized. Innovation in education would have to come from small or new institutions. Newcomers will have a hard time overcoming the entrenched interests in the current system.”

“In the top-tier universities, I’m not sure things will be that much different. In average and lower-tier universities, we’ll see more online learning for cost reasons. I’m not sure things will be that customized.”

“Several forces will impact this: the general overall increase in the levels of education globally, the developing world using Web and cell technology to jump over intermediate technologies, the high cost of face-to-face instruction, the improvement of AI as a factor in individualizing education, the passing of the Baby Boomers as educators in the system, the demand for Millennials and beyond for relevant learning models, China will develop a leading learning format, first to educate its population and then expand it to teach the world.”

“The question makes a grave omission, asking ‘where.’ In Ethiopia or Harlem, the situation will be the same or worse. In Harvard, biochips will make your description a simplicity. Seems you keep looking to the IT world as a closed system where Western societies or wealthy communities are those who exist, but the 70% of the world keeps at the margin.”

“I think the second choice will eventually be the case, but higher education moves way too slow and is too bureaucratic for the changes to take place that quickly.”

“Eight years is not enough time to these changes to happen. It has started, but higher education is highly structured and its practices institutionalized. Change may happen, but it will take longer.”

“Governmentally supported schools will not be able to afford such luxuries. Only private universities will attain the capabilities of the second scenario by 2020.”

“I expect the individualized instruction model will become more prevalent, but I do not see that as an entirely good thing. Some of the triggers for self-efficacy (see the work of Bandura on this), many of the advantages of group projects (social constructivism), and the sense of community that is a primary means of promoting retention in higher education (see Tinto) will all be lost in a highly individualized form of instruction. Factory-produced education courses will encourage a training mindset, rather than an inquiring, creative, curious mindset. The focus in this type of model is learning content and skills, rather than learning to think critically and question the status quo.”

“My guess will be that the future will be more like future two than future one, but still fairly corporately organized. The issue with moving to individually oriented outcomes has little to do with technology, but with prep time/evaluation time. It is just more time consuming to do anything that is individually oriented than something that can be described for a large group, and it’s unclear that the time saved by technology could be applied to do more custom-oriented work.”

“Education materials will be more targeted at the needs of the learners. The adoption of technology only makes materials much more accessible and customizable.”

“One can agree with the general trend, while also believing there will be many exceptions.”

“Budgets will be part of the driving force. Another is that we are already used to getting information online. Lectures are inefficient. Good education, in the future, will use live people—students and faculty—for discussion, customization, and for challenging one another, not for simple information dissemination. Bad (or mediocre) education will consist of all-online learning. Traditional, face-to-face education via large lecture courses will be replaced by online.”

“Traditional modes of learning dominate most institutions, and while there is likely to be an increase in distance learning for financial reasons, practical, pedagogical, and political reasons will slow change. Technological change is usually fairly gradual, and 2020 is relatively soon—just over two cohorts of undergraduates—too soon to achieve the utopian change outlined in option two.”

“In 2020, I think it will be the first option. Option two will need more time to develop. It might happen in 2030.”

“Higher education has to change. It is more than bringing smart phones to class or professors using clickers or SMARTBoards. Already we are questioning what a degree really means. If people have a Ph.D. and are called Dr., are they really smarter or better prepared to do whatever their field asks for than someone who has learned the same things other ways? Is it possible to really become a professional without a degree? I know that most of what I am proud of in what I do is what I have learned through experience, not because of classes I took. More and more students are going to college, and more and more of them are not prepared for what they need to learn. At the same time, more adults without degrees are motivated to become experts in a field because the information they need to learn is all available. At the same time there are adults who think that they know enough about a subject to be a Ph.D. but really do not have what it takes to succeed.”

“Higher education will shift toward hybrid and distance learning for budgetary reasons, even if hybrid and distance learning are pedagogically inferior.”

“Instead of recognizing the changes in technology and trying to come up with a new education system that can truly reap the benefits of such technology, the current system tries to merely add it on top of what is an antiquated system. Education all the way from bottom to top should be shifting to a more go-at-your-own-pace system to allow for those who are gifted to proceed quickly and those less-so to take it at a pace where they will still continue without being pushed through without the fundamentals.”

“This will be driven by market forces that move toward cheaper education, not better education. Those with money will still be able to afford the more personalized, in-person, smaller group, smaller teacher to student ratios of traditional education, and the rest will get by with more online and mediated methods. Some areas will benefit from individualization via technology, but others will suffer, depending on what is being learned and taught (both content and method).”

“I believe higher education could benefit from the second scenario, but there’s little incentive to move to the second model until funding and tuition costs start putting pressure on universities.”

“The education process has been built for hundreds of years, and its current form is very effective—not perfect, but effective. The use of new technologies on the education process will intrude the education process, but only as tool and not as replacement.”

“There are possibilities to make an ‘online-program’ already today where you only have to attend the exams. Mostly this is used when studying while working full-time. But I believe there is still a different value in the study programs as they are now. This is more about soft skills and to form your own character than about technical stuff.”

“Higher education in the developed world will adopt many new technologies and will remain largely in the classroom with face-to-face interactions. However, in the developing world, information will be distributed largely through electronic networks. Strong communities will emerge, fueled by talent and ideas, and there will be a dynamic information-sharing relationship between traditional models and new models of education.”

“This was a tough choice because, while I agree with the first half of the second choice regarding the structure of the learning environment, I do not agree that assessment of learning will change. Universities are hide-bound in not only the way they assess their students, but in the way they expect high schools to assess theirs, and I have not seen any movement away from the way they have been doing business for a very long time. I see very few colleges willing to entertain alternative assessment data. Whenever our state begins exploring the idea of granting high school credit based on competency and using standards-based grading, the biggest roadblock is that universities need to know that high school GPA.”

“The vision outlined in the second bullet may come to be realized, but beyond 2020.”

“While some students may still seek out institutions offering traditional face-to-face courses, I see a move to more online courses and/or hybrid courses. Faculty are coming to realize that they need to re-think their face-to-face time with students. What can only be done face-to-face? What can best be done face-to-face? I have been teaching online since 1996, and I know that students can learn in an online setting. Will ‘customized outcomes’ become the norm? I’m still not certain how that might come to pass for most students. With movements like the Open Educational Resources University, we’ll see more assessment of prior learning and more mixing and matching of courses, etc., but I’m not sure how that will scale to thousands of students. It’s a problem that still needs solving.”

“Trends and market forces make the digital university more likely. Not necessarily better, though more flexible. Learning styles differ, and some will suffer from less hands-on and interpersonal contact, as will some subjects. As with scientific research, which has followed mostly lines that ask questions that can be answered with the tools of reductionism, education will improve in those areas where the technology aids and suffer in the areas where it hinders: interpersonal communication, kinetic learning, creative synthesis.”

“Undoubtedly some schools will move towards a ‘remote campus’ approach, but I think people will feel robbed of their money if there is no face-to-face interaction with their professors on a regular basis. Since many of the more prestigious universities tout tradition, I doubt they will break with it for the convenience and fashion of technology. Perhaps greater integration, but in-person learning will not go away. Most people learn better from a hands-on approach, so anything of that nature will continue to be taught as it is today. A more Internet-based curriculum will allow for lazier discourse, already a problem in higher education. It’s too easy to ignore a conversation when it’s not happening right in front of you.”

“Learning is already different. The institutions that win in the long run are those that do not merely tack on technology to existing educational modes, but rather adopt entirely new ways of interacting with learners and enabling collaborative learning.”

“Universities will have to reshape their role in education as we head to 2020. The Internet and other technologies are bursting out with different ways to learn. Universities can retain their value by supplying accreditation and personal teaching. They will be challenged to do this efficiently and in a modern enough way not to be left behind. Universities offer a home for academic research. The balance of funding and support between research and teaching will have to be adapted in most cases. Great professors can both teach excellently and are top-notch researchers. But there are many professors who are not great—they are weaker in teaching and/or research. How does a university support this middle ground?”

“My own university is making a major shift towards online learning, even changing the semester schedule to be more conducive to shorter, more intensive courses that seem to be preferred by online learners. I’m less sure about a shift to ‘customized’ outcomes, but I can say with certainty that higher education is going to be enormously different in ten years.”

“While I agree with some of the changes outlined in the scenario, I by no means agree with all of them. It is profoundly Western-oriented and United-States-individualism-focused learning philosophy in a world where Western governments are actively dismantling educational institutions and structures and East-Asian governments intensely investing into them. Our ‘Western’ structures are collapsing, and thus the scenarios are uselessly out of touch.”

“People have hyped the massive changes that every new technology will cause for education. Face-to-face works best. It’s the medium we’ve used for 200,000 years as homo sapiens and for millions of years before that as early primates.”

“Nothing moves more slowly than university education.”

“There will be blend of these two options—universities will continue their transition to hybrid classes using online learning components and occasional in-person meetings, while smaller colleges will both adopt online capabilities and technologies to promote access to remote resources while maintaining a focus on in-person, on-campus attendance of seminars and (some) lectures. The length of the learning period (the traditional four-year degree) may change as a result of the focus on combined learning, with integration of more off-site activities with the traditional scholastic setting. I also think that economic factors over the next few years may promote the evolution of educational institutions along the lines of a transition to hybrid learning, while also preventing any mass adoption of just-in-time approaches and revolution of the educational system.”

“There will be more and varied ways to learn in 2020. This is partly a reflection of technological advances, but also because the cost of education is so high. To address this, virtual learning will become more prominent. It may also be lucrative since major universities can access students who may not be physically present at their campuses.”

“The economics of more effectively incorporating online tools into higher education will drive more rapid adoption. I also think the politics will accommodate a more rapid shift to these approaches in higher education, as contrasted with the much larger political obstacles facing change and reform at the K-12 level. I am also hopeful that higher education will drive the adoption of e-textbooks in ways that will ultimately trickle down to K-12.”

“Higher education, if it is to mean anything, must be more than vocational training. One of the ways that higher education is more than just certification for future employability is the milieu of students and academic professionals living and working in the same physical place. Remove that, and you remove a large part of what higher education is about.”

“Neither is true. University education will keep deteriorating as governments save money. They will go online to save money, but not decrease resources.”

“Universities are under the influences of tremendous forces that are pushing them towards non-traditional approaches; not only is funding more difficult to find (not just in the United States, but across the world), but there are also many more people to educate as the world ‘up-levels.’ It’s already becoming accepted, and even common, for some classes to be online, whilst others are in-person; indeed, there’s little value in sitting through a two-hour lecture in person when you don’t interact with the speaker. More interesting are the cases where online learning is encroaching in areas where traditionally it’s been felt that one-on-one interaction is necessary. My wife’s university, for example, teaches welding (!) online.”

“High-status institutions will look much the same as they do now but with more resources. Lower-prestige colleges and universities (and for-profit schools) will seek to bring in students whose lives are not conducive to traditional study, due to cost, opportunity cost of not working, family obligations, full-time jobs, etc., by offering programs not requiring physical presence.”

“My response to this is a reluctant acknowledgment of the nature of higher education rather than what would be best. From the 1960s book The Peter Principle, the system exists to perpetuate itself. Regrettably large universities lack the nimbleness to be able to adapt to rapidly changing realities. The system of higher education (as someone who has spent the last twenty years at major universities) is already broken, but instead of changing to make a university education more relevant, we herd students into larger and larger lectures and ask them to regurgitate esoteric facts. One defense of the university system, however, is that carving out an extended period of time to allow focused study does have a value, and current correspondence and online programs have a much lower completion rate. I just don’t think universities are doing a good job of taking advantage of the opportunity of having four years of committed time for dedicated learning.”

“Universities are realizing that if they don’t innovate, they can’t compete. With costs of education rising in an already weak economy, customized courses are becoming all the more important, and colleges have already begun to respond. While traditional assessments of learning and the tradition of in-class lectures will never full fade away, I do think we will see a continued movement to more individualized and customized course loads designed for each student’s learning goals.”

“There’s not enough time for things to change significantly by 2020, although change will surely come at some point. This is mostly due to the curricula and university statutes being fairly rigid and resistant to change.”

“Universities are already shifting their education processes to allow for individual learning needs. The world also can’t afford to keep the infrastructure in place to allow for attendance as we have had in the past. The real problem is there will be few jobs for most graduates. To some extent, being in school will be a waste of time for a large percentage of students. Right now we are seeing this in China and the United States.”

“Higher education will have a very different look and feel both in the physical and real worlds. Institutions will move from the cookie cutter variety to new specializations. Already you’re seeing universities like Flashpoint in Chicago focusing solely on twenty-first-century skills. Out-of-class experiences will take up a much larger piece of the experience. Small colleges will need to consolidate and collaborate to stay competitive. High-tech skills will become an important component of every major including humanities and literature. So basically, I’m all about scenario two.”

“Higher education fights change and clings to tradition more aggressively than any secular institution. The military will change much faster than universities, which are more like the Vatican than the Pentagon in their acceptance of modernity.”

“The economic challenges will direct these changes, not the concern for quality education. Those from higher socio-economic status groups will continue to have the benefits of ‘in-person’ education, furthering the gap between the upper and lower classes. Society will be many decades undoing this experiment.”

“My reason for choosing the second scenario may be more based on hope. However, adult/higher education is changing slowly. I see more of a move towards hybrid-type courses and face-to-face classes that include multimedia. Some of my colleagues are also including blogs, wikis, and YouTube videos in their course material and in their assignments. We have a long way to go. However, our students are also demanding that their education be more participative and relevant.”

“For financial purposes, higher education is being forced to offer alternative online education. Universities and colleges are not run efficiently by any institutional standards, so traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms with professors like me simply cannot charge public and private payers and continue as we do. There are too many institutions, far too many programs and intellectual duchies that operate primarily to feed academic ego and ‘document’ performance for promotion, and—sadly—the alternative may be wholesale flight to education by computer. Many classes can be very effectively delivered online, but disciplines within the humanities that require critical thinking, interactive discourse, and effective oral or written expression are a much knottier problem. And it is these very disciplines and exactly this sort of ruminative education that provides the ‘glue’ for civil society.”

“The change will be driven by the ability to meet a wider range of learning behaviours, coupled with financial concerns in the higher education bubble, as operating costs exceed rationality and should be used for more research and invention rather than administration. This is the one-two punch for handling such an increased number of registrants in higher education and international competitiveness.”

“Technology will certainly affect higher education. You can already see the shift of classes to the Internet (from local community college offerings all the way to ASU). There will be a period of struggle as the schools figure out how to make it all work (attendance, cheating, etc), but they’ll get it eventually.”

“Academic accreditation bodies and tenure committees will assess and reward real-world outcomes. Standardized testing and academic journals will be a thing of the past.”

“I don’t think the transition in current universities will happen that fast. There’s too much vested in the current way of doing things.”

“Again, I am sorry, the reality will be in between. 2020 is too short a time frame to see the change happen, but many signs will show a coming transition—in the best universities, not so in many universities, especially in the South.”

“The cost pressures resulting from taxpayer revolts to narrow views of how one measures the costs of education will tend to push for the short-term, less-expensive alternatives. Plus, new technology is sexy and is fun for university administrators to roll out in front of prospective donors. But in the long term, skills of interaction, negotiation, and, most importantly, of being able to think as if one were in the shoes of one’s counterpart will become increasingly valuable but will be lost by the lack of face-to-face interaction.”

“Universities will remain largely the same because the funds to implement new technological infrastructures are dwindling, and it would take ages to retro-fit buildings with large screens, etc. While students may be able to use their phones and laptops to access communal learning sites, not unlike the current Blackboard system, they will still find ways to remain unengaged in learning, if that is their preference.”

“2020 is too soon. But I do believe that higher education will go through major reforms. It still depends on a medieval certification that is in conflict with its education goals. And there are many syllogisms and hypocrisies in the way education is talked about. The benefits are spoken of as if all education leads to science-based careers, as is appropriate for such an expensive product. Yet the desire to congregate, think, talk, and learn is human. I expect these two goals to become separate in the education marketplace eventually.”

“This is a trend to eliminate the labor of face-to-face teaching, not a pedagogical advance. All the research points to an even mix of on-site and online as the right one. Yet university management gurus are pushing for offline-only systems without actually understanding how learning takes place. A small proportion of online enthusiasts are also buying into the ‘only online’ rhetoric. The problem is not the technology, but putting online education into perspective: It is only part of the overall educational future, not the dominant nor defining part.”

“I believe my choice to be the most likely, but the economic climate will help to determine the outcomes in the future of higher education. Entrance into colleges is becoming more competitive, and class sizes will need to continue to expand, the use of technology can increase class sizes and attendance. Requirements for graduation will shift, but not greatly.”

“Universities are increasing online course offerings and hybrid offerings, but I don’t see the entire structure of the university system changing anytime soon.”

“This technical future is already here in some parts of the first world higher education system.”

“I gave the slight edge to the ‘change’ scenario above, but I believe there will come a divergence between undergraduate education and community college/graduate education. These comments apply to United States higher education. In my view, undergraduate education will retain much of its current and traditional in-person model, in large part because young people use ‘going away to college’ as a rite of passage and a place to grow up, in addition to academic pursuits. However, I believe undergraduate education will continue to increase in price, making graduate education and/or community college something that must be pursued while working. This will lead to even more long-distance education programs at higher levels. For example, see how many of the library and information graduate programs have migrated to a hybrid or all online format because many people who pursue this degree do it as a second career.”

“I believe that smaller colleges, especially liberal arts ones, will lead the way. Larger organizations will be at a disadvantage due to state/government regulations and the inability of larger organizations to be as nimble.”

“It is just too expensive to educate people in the old ‘seat-time’ way. Teleconferencing and distance learning make it more affordable to reach students. Unfortunately, as is the case today, the quality of learning will still depend on course design and quality of instruction, so the criteria for being well educated will still be determined by how well educated the faculty is and how much the institution can afford to tailor instruction, which will ultimately be a matter of financial capacity—ergo, we will have the same, stratified academic system that we have always had, just with a different delivery system.”

“The change will be more gradual, hence my opinion.”

“I think we are on this trajectory for two reasons. First, there’s a hunger for getting taught by the best. Look at all the folks signing up for the Stanford AI course and the huge number of (largely qualified) folks applying to Harvard. People want to learn and want the best possible education. Distance learning technologies are making it easier for the best folks to reach more people. Second is money. There’s money to be made here for both instructors and universities. It will be interesting to see how the various economic choices pan out. I will note a third issue: Being individually focused means ensuring there’s local education support (or infrastructure) that the student can tap. A professor cannot provide individual advice to 4,000 students at forty locations. So we’ll see a rise in the need for well-qualified support staff.”

“I think we’re already there. My podium has projection video, DVD, DVR, tape, and computer capability—which don’t seem to add much to the exchange.”

“Teacher-to-student interface will always be important.”

“Like the music industry, universities will have to rethink their business model as people realize that information is easy to share.”

“They will be mostly online. Some will be blended. No tenures! There will be one teacher/facilitator for hundreds of students. Online robots will monitor the learning activity.”

“While there are positives for the latter choice, I think that university education will take longer than not even a full decade to move away from the traditional learning structure. Shades of grey continue to be if the current learning model is teaching students what they need to succeed in the job market and if the cost is worth the education.”

“I chose the second because I am hopeful that is the way it will turn out. Having been involved with universities and their rather hidebound decision-making processes and glacially slow adaptation to change, I believe they will have to be shaken rather firmly to get there, but the alternative is that they will become increasingly irrelevant.”

“I am living this change as a college professor. I think there will be more hybrid opportunities because that seems to be what works best: balance!”

“I am aware that a university is being built in Singapore that has no lecture theatres. I think that a huge change is already happening in tertiary education in the direction of more peer-to-peer learning and that students are actively taking advantage of online communication technologies.”

“Most college classes are already here, if not moving here quickly.”

“If there is one thing that has proven true over the last twenty years, it is that larger institutions and government organizations are behind the curve in media technology adoption. Further, many of the top brands will insist on face-to-face for their premium degrees because they insist on quality. Quality has yet to be proven with individualized distance learning and hybridized on/offline classes. However, there will be experimentation.”

“In-person group settings carry significant benefits, but they are extremely expensive. The economics will drive towards more online activity. It also permits a much larger ‘reach’ for the university.”

“There will be more off-site learning to be sure—we’ve seen that—but the campus experience will still be highly valued such a short time from now.”

“I rather prefer the second, but I think is more plausible because the force of the ‘institutionalization’ of education, a short of combination of general objectives (education, research, etc.) and interest (personal and corporative).”

“Although technology will be helpful to the learning process, it will exacerbate class stratification in society. Even when the poor are admitted to a high-quality institution of higher learning in spite of a sub-par high school education, they are unable to afford the same laptops, smartphones, home Internet connections, and other accessories that are a key part of the learning experience of their richer peers since high school or earlier. Poor students will be trebly cursed: They will have had a poor high school education, they will be unfamiliar with emerging technologies, and they will be unable to purchase the latest and most powerful accessories, giving their wealthier peers a significant advantage.”

“The university, which has resisted change since about 800 AD or so, will still be around. But a number of other institutions will arise to embody the innovation that technology facilitates. However, the best and most lasting will not be ‘home alone in the dark,’ but rather will figure out ways to incorporate social interaction, often in real-time, human to human in the same place at the same time. Note the experiments with four or five Indian children, together with a grandparent-type supervisor, doing amazing things compared to either (a) a traditional classroom or (b) a student home alone.”

“If you could bring a person who lived 1,000 years ago to modern day, they would be amazed/overwhelmed by advances in transportation, health, etc., but they would be very comfortable in the education setting because it hasn’t changed much since they lived. Why would we imagine higher education will transform so much in next ten years?”

“My sense is that what we will see in higher education is a hybrid of the two scenarios presented.”

“I wonder if universities will remain the center of higher education. As the world’s technology increases in complexity, a more fractal learning experience will be more useful. On demand, mobile, illustrated with motion when appropriate, variable (real and threaded) discussions, especially for specialized topics, and better connectivity tools for connecting multimedia and source locations, research, and consensus tools. Of course, this scenario depends on the lower education levels empowering thinking that supports this higher level.”

“Universities are overall slow to change—like doctors. Overall, the elite universities will lead, and the strong core of universities’ operations and values will remain. Digital life will be an improvement, not a substitute.”

“Higher learning in this country has become an unsustainable financial burden. With education becoming unaffordable while also becoming ever more important for workers in the global economy, a radical change will be necessary. Unless administrators are so dogmatic and archaic as to refuse to adapt (which is certainly possible) the best way to address the issue of soaring costs is to leverage digital technology in manners that allow schools to continue to make their money without excluding the massive portion of the population that can’t afford it or obtain a scholarship covering the costs.”

“We need to rethink the junior college system, trade schools, and universities. The big question is cost of providing education and what is the value from it—the global marketplace is putting incredible pressure on long-established education business practices, and the opportunities for customers (students) are not as clear-cut as they were just twenty years ago.”

“With a high school senior in the house and the college choice immediately in front of us, I’ve been thinking about this question. My guess is that the landscape of 2030 might be radically different, but that 2020 is too close to see a big shake up. As Fitzgerald noted in Crazy U, colleges haven’t changed their fee structure yet because the current structure continues to be in high demand. So nine years is probably too soon to see the changes from the second answer, but there will start to be a shift towards that in our lifetime.”

“I find fault mainly with the time scheme—education hasn’t gotten past the late 1990s technology in many places and ways, so it’s pretty doubtful to me that we’ll have eclipsed it even further in a mere nine years. And as nice as some of the stated ‘advances’ might be, I definitely don’t see any funding or resources going in the education direction to help push these sorts of ideas forward. Without that, it doesn’t matter what kinds of futuristic dreams or ideas people have, they can’t be realized without funding and resources—including qualified, dedicated teachers who are paid what they deserve.”

“Technology is no substitute for traditional education. ‘Vir bonus dicendi peritus’ or the good man who can speak well will not be brought about by techno-based thinking.”

“Unfortunately, education is always slow to react to change.”

“I don’t think stuff will move this quickly, nor do I think there is a plan to do so. Most universities are facing major budget cuts, so there will be very little money to instigate changes of this magnitude.”

“Mature organizations are slow to change; they are slow to learn; they are reinforced by the societies they serve to deliver expected goods and perform expected services. The mature organizations of a society also tend to mimic (metaphorically) each other. Higher education institutions are no different from other mature organizations in society. If other institutions are ‘learning,’ then so is higher education. Today, hybrid classes are more prevalent; shifts in space and time arrangements for learning are more prevalent; aiming for certain learning outcomes and assessing their presence/accomplishment is more prevalent; distance learning using a variety of tools is more prevalent; and accrediting associations, governments, business, and citizens groups are noisier in their support of these approaches to learning and learning environments. Indeed, there are many pockets of ‘learning’ going on across higher education; the narrative that speaks to such organizational learning has not yet surfaced in coherent paragraphs, much less well-formed, new-form chapters; still there are the beginnings of numerous new short stories.”

“I hope the second option will happen. I believe we’re moving away from the physical necessity to be in a classroom to learn information. We’re already becoming more comfortable learning through advanced technology, so why not continue in that direction?”

“Higher education is already changing. The adaptation of technology within the higher educational system has been slowly happening for about ten years and has only been gaining momentum ever since. In addition, because of the fast rate of growth from technology, there will be a heightened need for professionals to continue their education in order to stay up-to-date with the changes that will be occurring in their field.”

“With the increasing cost of higher education, I can easily see much more telecommunication classes. This would drastically reduce costs and make this education more accessible. While this is generally a good thing, the personal skills that you learn in higher education cannot be forgotten.”

“I don’t foresee higher education making any significant changes within the next decade. As a whole, higher education tends to be conservative and slow to shift. I think they’ll still be about the same as they are now.”

“I chose what I think is true. I think it’s sad though if that happens. Going to college is about education, personal and academic—not about a job. When it became about a job, so much learning stopped.”

“Higher education will be different—but most notably at the community college/private, specialized college level. Larger institutions will need proof-of-concept before moving from traditional norms.”

“While the development of new and different campus arrangements is inevitable, I do not believe that nine years is long enough for these kinds of changes to take place. There are few external pressures to force the use of the specific kinds of technologies listed. Additionally, I am not aware of any significant evidence that indicates that these technologies allow universities to teach better or more cheaply. I believe that, between now and 2020, economic forces will have a greater impact on community colleges and professional degree programs than traditional higher learning.”

“Only the children of the very wealthy will be able to afford a college education in 2020. Teleconferencing, distance learning, and online courses will be the norm.”

“Universities will be focused on remote education and virtual classes, requiring more teleconferencing using new technologies in the cloud and teleconferencing with live video.”

“If this does not happen, we will be doing our future leaders a disservice.”

“Economics will win out over effectiveness. As a faculty member in higher education today, I see the limits of technology-mediated learning. The potential is never realized because it conflicts with basic human nature—each generation wants to exercise less effort than the group that came before them.”

“My hope is set forth in the second scenario, and we have some chance of it evolving. My fear is that our political system may significantly hinder that evolution. We are now engaging in the most anti-intellectual movement in my lifetime of over seventy years, and too many university leaders are being replaced by completely unqualified former politicians. Education is the hope for the future of this nation.”

“Universities are big, slow animals that are resistant to culture change, regardless of technological adoptions. A shift to customized outcomes runs counter to the entire idea of a liberal arts education, and faculty will not stand for that. Additionally, cash-obsessed conservatives are slashing education budgets in a way that will prevent universities from making innovative changes—they will struggle just to maintain the status quo.”

“I am checking option two because I believe it would be better. What will actual universities look like in 2020? Probably not that much different than today. Higher education is not structured for rapid change and innovation.”

“We are already seeing this with the growth of online classes and programs such as Western Governors University Indiana.”

“The problem is there is not enough adoption by faculty of the new technologies. More ‘seasoned’ faculty members seem very resistant to (a) learn the technology, and/or (b) learn how to effectively integrate the technology. I’m also seeing several of my colleagues at the university using technology, but not in the best or most appropriate way. For example, telling students to post on a message board does not mean you are having an online discussion. Students are also not asking for online courses, as they know they are not disciplined enough to complete something on their own. Consistently, at my university (and I would guess at others as well), there is a 50% drop-out rate of online courses, with face-to-face courses having significantly smaller drop-out rates. Online learning serves a purpose for some, but not for most.”

“Online learning is an effective supplement to, not a replacement for, in-person discussion and debate.”

“I already see this at work in my children’s schools—a pervasive use of technology in support of tried and true teaching methods. The use of technology helps to keep the kids interested and allows the students to learn more quickly and individually. At any level of education, however, there’s no replacement for being in the classroom and on campus to interact with other people.”

“Although I think that technology will and is changing education, I think in 2020 that many of the traditional ways of learning and interacting in the classroom setting will still be in place—at least at the best universities.”

“The recent Pew study on this topic definitely indicated that things are changing for higher education. And that university presidents didn’t feel that online learning was qualitatively different than classroom learning.”

“While I believe most of the above is true, there will still be a need for some classroom instruction to provide the needed face-to-face human contact. The ability to work with/in groups and understand body language is important.”

“Students will have the ability to utilize cutting-edge technologies, but educational institutions will be much slower to have them available. Budgetary limitations are one cause; the faculty not wishing to try something new is a significant additional cause. Additionally, we will find that certain subjects lend themselves very nicely to new technologies, but a surprising number will not.”

“There will be no big changes by 2020 because universities are tied to the money that comes with traditional education. What would they do with all those special, large buildings they’ve put up all over the campus?”

“This one is tough to answer. There is great value in the ‘college experience’ and the one-on-one or classroom connection. On the other hand, the ability of technology to streamline and personalize customized outcomes can be highly valued. Technology develops quickly; for most of us, something like a tablet was unimaginable a few short years ago. It will be interesting to see where the forward-thinkers of technology take us when it comes to post-secondary education.”

“No doubt higher education will look much different. And that is great to meet the needs of those with different learning styles.”

“Physical, brick-and-mortar libraries are already becoming obsolete! I am concerned about how effectively the transition will be made to these ‘hybrid’ classes, as aging professors figure out how to teach in the new formats and adjust to the demands imposed by these ‘individually oriented outcomes.’”

“There will be a mix of approaches. True high-level intellectual pursuit requires a guided conversation and collaboration. This will still be most effectively achieved in true face-to-face situations. More technical skills will be most likely to migrate more fully to more targeted interactive approaches. The most unfortunate likely result of ‘distance’ and interactive learning will be the acceleration of the stratification of education by class and income. Those with more income will have access to a richer, less ‘virtual’ educational experience. Those with less income will be slotted into what will be essentially online test preparation.”

“I am earning a graduate degree online. It works great. The cost savings is significant for universities. It certainly favors students who can figure out on their own how to meet deadlines. And, the social interactions are mostly through text (messaging, discussion boards), not face-to-face interactions. I definitely see higher education moving in this direction.”

“Higher education will change to a more remote setup than was the case in the past. The University of Phoenix is a great example of this, and now many colleges and universities are adopting distance learning. However, learning is not just about reading and writing papers and watching lectures (remotely). The student interaction, student-to-teacher interaction, and the generalized ‘culture’ of old-style schools are important, indeed critical, parts of learning. Universities will struggle to replicate those things in the remote environment, and many students will suffer from its absence.”

“It’s most likely that the second option will prevail, though possibly not in the time frame. Utilizing technologies more allow us to enhance the learning experience. It might take us awhile to get to the point where we don’t model our education around the same pillars of learning, but it will make more sense to engage with technologies that allow students to be more mobile and dynamic.”

“To continue to be relevant in the lives of students, this is the way to go. Otherwise, higher education will be obsolete and out of touch.”

“My work and volunteer work already have changed significantly. I provided training and leadership development in this new model. I think this is true in 2010, not just 2020.”

“I agree the second scenario is where we are going, but I don’t agree with it. People learn better in a classroom when they have to interact—in person—with the instructor and fellow students. I just graduated with my MBA, and I found it unsettling to observe some people who had no business being there. Universities are loosening their standards, in my opinion, to make more money, instead of producing students they can be proud to have as alumni.”

“Given the economics of education and the general over-emphasis on results, leaning on experts for instruction combined with in-place teachers seems likely. If drop-in, in-person teaching occurs as well, that would probably hinder the way students learn to interact, receive support and encouragement for challenges, and the way in which they understand what it is to experiment and grow. The idea of customized outcomes makes little sense unless super-specialization is the desired outcome.”

“People are already using a hybrid system of online and offline instruction. As we become more global and interact with people around the world, instruction and interaction will have to be more wired in order to accommodate time.”

“Though I lament this fact, I do believe that the physical footprint of public and private universities and colleges will decrease over time due to technology advances. I couldn’t guess by how much, though. On the other hand, an effective liberal education requires ‘flesh-and-blood’ interaction betwixt humans. Since we are only thinking out to 2020, I don’t think the ‘traditional’ university system will markedly change by this time.”

“Higher education will transform in part because of technology, but more to react to market forces. The hybrid approach could be blend of technology-driven and reacting to the needs of the market.”

“I ticked the second option not because I believe every aspect of this scenario (there will still be a lot of people in classrooms in 2020), but because I read this in the midst of what looks like could be a long-term economic downturn. If our economy continues to slide down, if the jobless rate continues to remain high, and if university and college tuition continues to climb, this mix will put further pressure on higher education to look to innovative ways to attract and retain students. Technology and more customizing your experience are two of these ways. Also, young people who are used to on-demand everything and ‘I’ everything will feel more comfortable crafting individual courses of study for themselves.”

“As someone who teaches a course online, I think we’ll see more and more of higher education moving to an online environment as students balance work, family, and shrinking family budgets while trying to complete a degree.”

“The choices are two extremes, and what’s likely to happen is a melding of the two. Higher education is already providing several distance learning opportunities. For example, earlier this year our son took an English class from his university via the Internet (using Facebook and other tools) while he was studying in Europe. This is simply meeting people’s needs where they are. However, I don’t think this type of learning will completely replace in-person classes.”

“As learning becomes more easily personalized, formal learning institutions will need to change, or they will lose customers. Hybrid learning opportunities will be more the norm by 2020.”

“While I’d like to believe in the second option, can you imagine Yale, Princeton, University of Southern California, and the University of California universities adopting the major changes required by option two? Campuses, buildings, sports programs (big money), as well as the face-to-face socialization will hold on for decades. Only the cost of maintaining the aforementioned elements of higher education will bring about any substantive change in the physical environment of the education process.”

“Custom, lifelong delivery of training resources and information by universities will be key if we want to keep our position in a globally connected world. The downside will be again a gulf between those who are able to take advantage of these resources and those who cannot due to a widening income gap. The future competition among nations will be for living-wage jobs, and those governments that can motivate and support their communities to participate in lifelong learning will succeed.”

“Awesome. I teach online college classes and took them when they were first offered as a student. Because everyone’s schedule is so busy, online learning allows for the flexibility to cater to one’s schedule and needs.”

“Personally, I believe the second option will only hurt higher education. Objectively, I find the first option to more inline with the rate of change of academia. There is no way in nine years paradigms will shift so rapidly; however, in the 2040, perhaps.”

“It’s here already.”

“The only difference is the pencil and technique.”

“This phenomenon has the potential to make higher education more of a winner-takes-all profession. The most effective faculty (or the faculty who are most willing and able to effectively market themselves) will become ‘superstars,’ in demand for various sorts of lectures and workshops, both live and recorded, at their own institutions and at other institutions. This superstar status will be rewarded with ever-greater compensation. On the other end of the spectrum, the least effective faculty (or those least effective at marketing themselves) will find significantly less demand for their teaching services.”

“We can already see things going in the direction of number two. The biggest reason is it’s cheaper.”

“Employers want predictability coming out of universities. Education is no guarantor of employee success; employers use it as a predictor. As a result, employers must continue to have confidence in the standard deliverables from the universities. Employers must continue to have confidence that students are graduating with a core set of skills and abilities. As the parent of a child going through a college search now, parents want the option to send their children to a learning environment, a place focused on learning. Just as working from home or telecommuting can work, I am sure that tele-learning can work in some circumstances for some individuals. However, telecommuting presents serious challenges in terms of employee focus and accountability. I’m certain the same challenges will face tele-learning. It works for some, not for others. I believe there will continue to be a significant market for the ‘traditional’ university.”

“Hybrid and online courses require that individuals enrolled: be familiar enough with the technology to utilize it; be enough self-motivated to be able to thrive with a lessened instructor presence; and be able to seek help on coursework and keep up with the pace of the class. The fulfillment of these three criteria of course varies widely among individuals. However, online and hybrid courses simply are not for all students, and while they should, of course, be made available for those to whom they are well suited, it is a disservice to apply them across all of higher education.”

“It’s happening now.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that we will be co-developing modes of learning alongside students more than delivering pre-set learning approaches to them. In areas like mobile adoption, students are racing ahead. Even today there are professors who deliver the lectures online and reserve classroom time for higher value interaction, informed in part by algorithmic analysis of when comments and questions were appended to the video. The in-class experience will include much more peer-to-peer interaction and explanation.”

“Given the cost of higher education, I don’t see how we can not move to this option. I do not foresee the loss of interaction between students—just that it may not all be on campus.”

“The direction suggested in the second scenario is already in evidence. Small segments of the population will continue to attend elite liberal arts schools, high-powered national universities, and specialized colleges, just as they do now. A greater number will attend state universities and second-tier institutions—in part because of the great attachment Americans have to sports and higher education, and in part because parents want their children to have experiences similar to theirs. But the majority of new entrants into higher education will find training online. Community colleges will likely change the most—their existing brick-and-mortar locations will become hubs of activity, with less time for students on campus. They should have an advantage over start-up organizations offering similar training because people like to know there is someplace to go and ask questions.”

“More and more students are learning online, and with the cost of quality professors, universities will not be able to afford professors teaching in the classrooms as much—there is already a trend towards decreasing professors and classroom use and depending upon online education.”

“It is already happening that distance learning and networks are being harnessed by educational institutions. This must happen, as the traditional model is simply too expensive, and American universities cannot maintain their quality and educate the large numbers of foreign students entering the system while still educating Americans without the use of technology to make things more efficient. There will probably be a mix of traditional, hands-on education at very high price points, but the majority of students will be educated by non-traditional means. 2020 will be a point in a longer transition process, as there are many social barriers to wholesale change.”

“I don’t consider ‘hybrid’ classes and some of the just-in-time learning approaches to be different from what it is today. The market will become more segmented, but segmented because of different cohorts and the identification of different needs. Sorry, but parts of your scenario one and parts of your scenario two are already in place. Does that mean that I select scenario one but not scenario two? Will 2020 higher education be different from today? No. Sure, there will be technology changes, infrastructure changes, who attends college changes, but I see the greater challenge as asking a more fundamental question: Should everyone be going to college?”

“The increase in people utilizing distance learning has resulted in a quantum leap in the quality of both the pedagogy and the technology.”

“Quality liberal arts colleges and universities will continue to function as outlined in option one. For-profit and lower-quality institutions that serve primarily as certification factories rather than institutions of higher learning will not mind embracing the model of option two.”

“I don’t believe that by 2020 there will be a cultural shift on campuses toward remote learning. I don’t think the infrastructure is there to support it yet (training professors on how to use the resource, kids getting on board, and so on). I do think the rising cost of education and the reduction in money for student loans may encourage more people to take online courses through community colleges before transferring over to a four-year university. Since many ‘commuter’ schools offer more distance learning opportunities, this may increase in this setting. Having recently completed a master’s degree where many courses were only available in the classroom, I don’t think four-year universities will be able to transition to this practice in the next eight years.”

“Higher education is already undergoing some of these shifts, with increasing use of technologies in the classroom and more extensive distance learning opportunities. The shift to assessments and outcomes becoming more individualized will not necessarily be evidenced with the traditional undergraduate, however. I think these changes will be a result of an increasing number of non-traditional students (older adults looking to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree) working toward educational achievement.”

“We are already seeing pockets of enriched use of the Internet in higher education. Whether as a consequence of economic necessity or enlightenment or both, the reach of higher education will be extended to those who choose to access it.”

“The value of in-person interaction is too valuable to remove from education. Technology will be leveraged, perhaps providing remediation and entry-level courses, but students need each other to maximize their education potential. They also have to want to be there.”

“I agree ‘there will be a transition to hybrid classes that combine online learning components with less frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings.’ I am the product of that environment myself, and it is very popular. I achieved my master’s degree through an external degree program. It worked perfectly with a full-time work schedule, combining much more independent work with only a structured outline of reading assignments and essay delivery. Certainly advanced degrees could easily be managed by this methodology. As more students become used to this approach, the style will migrate to undergraduate degrees. Positively, it allows an individual to achieve a degree while working full time. Negatively, it may prove difficult to young people coming from a classroom environment to immediately transition to hybrid structure. Some would have a great difficulty with the ‘self starter’ concept, while others are not writing achievers.”

“Life doesn’t allow for time like it used to. Add to that global timing and perspectives, and we need to provide a way for all types of learning styles and options. People work differently and want to continue to do great work, but not by sacrificing what’s important to them (family, friends, social time, health, activities, etc.) By providing hybrid classes in addition to, not in exchange of, traditional settings, there will likely be more of a draw to higher education. Personalization and customization is critical. No one wants to fit into someone else’s box.”

“Although the idea of moving toward a mixed-mode approach with learning could be extremely beneficial, I don’t believe universities will adopt that model—having bodies on a campus is a reason for universities to solicit additional funding, to increase their reputability as far as student life activity programs, etc.”

“Education is very conservative.”

“I agree with the first paragraph, except I believe learning will become more collaborative, and this is how the Internet will be used.”

“Universities are very conservative organizations that change slowly. Maybe there is a tendency for adoption of e-learning activities, but it is not foreseen that within the current decade there will be a complete shift on education delivery.”

“Given the economic problems we face and the trauma many state universities are experiencing because of the economic malaise, it seems reasonable to assume that new technology will carry the day. When I was teaching media studies at San Francisco State, the deans were already trying to get professors to make their courses available on the Internet, etc. I taught an Internet course for the New School a number of years ago.”

“Universities, as well as high schools, will do more pre-assessment of learning to prevent redundancies and boredom for those students ready to move forward.”

“I think it’ll take longer than nine years to get to the other choice.”

“Universities will evolve as the cultural experience will evolve.”

“Universities will have to learn to behave more as a business. Ph.D.s in social work or history won’t be the best choice for running departments, admissions, financial aid offices, etc.”

“This is a trend, and it works just as well as traditional education while allowing much, much more flexibility and individualized attention.”

“New technology will be required to control the growing cost of education. In-person education will remain the gold standard and continue to be the practice in the most exclusive settings, but it will be increasingly replaced by hybrid classes as the methodology for doing so improves and is proven to be effective.”

“I see a shift toward hybrid classes, more online interaction, and less frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings in general education courses, particularly at large research institutions where those classes were previously taught by teaching assistants. For major, minor, or graduate/post-graduate level work, though, the in-person discussion is important to provide a well-rounded education. The move toward education as a consumer product is dangerous and devalues college degrees. Everyone does not ‘deserve’ to go to college. College should be reserved for the best and the brightest who want to make a commitment to learn and want to challenge themselves personally and professionally. It is not for people who think they are entitled to get an A because they paid a bunch of money to take the course.”

“Technology may have less of a role in this scenario than economics, at least in the United States. There is a tipping point in what students are able to afford in their higher-education experience, and a broken system for supporting those in need of financial help. Student debt may be the next significant financial crisis. Technology could help reduce cost but cannot replace collaborative experience or increase academic discipline. The status quo educational experience will be diluted with technology, this will not increase one-on-one mentorship, guidance, and community.”

“The second option is a little too extreme at this point. 2020 is about eight years away, and I do not see higher education moving that quickly. However, I do strongly believe that that is where it is going. As the demand and price for higher education continues to increase, I think it is inevitable that online classes, which will have lower costs and greater accessibility, will become prevalent.”

“Higher elite education will be slow to change and will still be focused on (mostly) direct interaction in classroom or near-classroom settings. But economic necessity and technological opportunity will spawn a second tier of higher education that may not have the cachet but will be much more available to students. Employers will be wary of how meaningful those degrees are, however.”

“Education changes at a ridiculously slow pace.”

“I teach at a college. The students are demanding change.”

“Budget constraints, real estate costs, and the globalization of knowledge will require creative, more open and inclusive approaches to education. I think generalists will be the norm, with just-in-time, specialized, lifelong learning skills acquired as needed based on context and job requirements.”

“Small specialized colleges will develop interpersonal skills, management and left brain activities.”

“Young people today limit their research to compromised text rather than to resource source information and understand how and what was used to create the understandings.”

“This will be the only way to deal with the rising costs of classroom teaching.”

“The second choice already seems to be occurring, and rightly so. Why would higher education not adopt and embrace the new technologies? If we had not been doing that same thing all along, we’d still be writing on cave walls and counting on our fingers and toes.”

“There will be state universities and private universities with some expected difference in outcomes of the ‘university experience.’ As a long-time trustee of a private university that is rather unique in an innovative relationship with local community colleges in a three-state area, we have special outreach to working adults whose educations/chosen professional fields have evolved from the bachelor’s degree to master’s degrees’ to professional doctorates—where both employer and the employee are winners. (We also give full scholarships to all those in law enforcement, thereby giving back to our communities). Thus, we are already living this state of affairs.”

“Employment requirements will be more technical, so higher education requirements will prepare students for a digital office.”

“Unfortunately, as education becomes more business-oriented, its focus will shift towards outcomes which are measured in economic terms. University campuses should be sites where individual and group expression and experimentation are encouraged, but instead the focus is becoming more process and function focused.”

“2020 is only eight years away. While I think things might be trending toward the second answer, I do not think we will have arrived in that place by 2020. There hasn’t been a huge shift in the way classrooms are run in the last 100 years or so.”

“This is already happening in terms of the technology, teaching and learning strategies, and so on. However, what threatens this is that all Western countries are moving to rigid, assessment-based and prescriptive frameworks based on work roles and economic paradigms, so I’m not so sure about the second bit, i.e. the individually oriented and customised outcomes. Requirements for graduation will be based on dollars and industry-ordained benchmarks.”

“Universities, like most institutions, adapt slowly to change. But the forces of interactive technology are powerful and have already been in place for decades. Transformation is certain but will most surely be uneven.”

“It will be a mixture of both. Perhaps universities that have a more generous endowment fund will be able to afford activities as mentioned in the option that I did not choose, but generally by 2020 it will mostly still be the traditional way. Even if universities have the heart to incorporate different ways of conducting lectures such as online or whatever to further engage the students, I feel that the shareholders in the universities may not be willing to do so. This is because the outcome generated may not necessarily transcribe into something better since these people who donate money to the school would want to see returns.”

“Teaching styles are already moving this way—away from traditional models. Whether this is beneficial remains to be seen.”

“With all the ‘home schooling’ and ‘charter schooling,’ and then fragmentation of universities, I wonder what will happen to the ‘polis’ and role of cooperative interactions for the common good vs. consumer-driven diversions.”

“Personal commitment is too low online. Nothing can replace the real relationship between teachers and students. It can be spread in time, but it must exist. Students are also tempted by laziness, like any other people, and physical rhythms are good for collective effort.”

“Technology will aid our ability to draw on resources and experts. Already online participation is gaining ground. I don’t see the complete adoption in education to be positive because I don’t think we’ll figure out how to best do so for a long time. And we’ll suffer as we try different things. Also while individualized learning plans are great, they may go too far. There should be a standard for everyone with personalization on top.”

“Economics and technology will drive university administration decisions, and it seems like number two will happen. The value of the residential college experience has gone the way of the buggy whip. Residential college will only be for the top 2 to 5% of students who either are intellectually or financially superior. Those students will get access to the network of capital and influence to provide the country’s leaders. I think this is very, very sad and will cause lots of class issues, but that is where technology and economics will drive the universities.”

“Scenario one is likely simply due to the inertia. A shift to tele-education is inevitable, but not by 2020. The tradition of the university experience is so strong in our culture that change will be slow on the consumer side. On the business side, profitable colleges, some with long-standing tradition, will be reluctant to change. I would expect a blend of the two by 2020.”

“Universities will recognize that getting a degree is just one step. Lifelong learning is much more important than finalizing a degree. By the time someone completes a degree, much of the information they ‘learned’ has changed or morphed; some is already outdated. The focus will be on on-going lifetime learning. Maybe even one day learning, next day working—or mornings learning, afternoons working. Maybe 30/70 but maybe even 50/50 depending on the field.”

“New technology will enhance traditional ways and supplant some features of traditional instructional technology. There will be more technology assisted instruction.”

“It’s already heading in this direction and will, unfortunately, continue. I’ve tried teaching a hybrid course (I’m a college professor) and hated it. Most of my colleagues teach full online courses, but I refuse. Something powerful is lost when all communication is mediated by technology.”

“Higher education will progress, leveraging technology to deliver more to students and in a way that may be adaptive to student’s learning styles and needs. There will be hybrid classes, but it’s not about a split between in-class and online. It’s more about experiential learning: in class and in the real world. Practicums, internships, and study abroad are growing as students realize the need to have such experiences to be competitive in the tight job market. These practical, in-the-world experiences are being augmented by online meetings and classes, tying together the learnings in the classroom and the learnings in the field. Requirements for graduation will not be based on customized outcomes; for many professions, requirements remain fairly defined. If graduation requirements become more grey, but professional requirements are still black and white, graduates will have difficulties articulating their value to future employers. There will be a disconnect.”

“Change comes slowly—maybe by 2030. 2020 is just a few moments away, organizationally speaking for a big university. It would be very difficult for a large university with 35,000 students to implement ‘requirements for graduation will be significantly shifted to customized outcomes.’ This tends to be relevant for the top 10% of college-bound students. The other 90% are perfectly willing to follow the requirements as they are today.”

“Higher education is a business, and it will adapt to market demands.”

“It will be in between. Higher education is already shifting to more individualized education. Rather than a course-based core cluster of courses required of all students, there is a move to a competency-based education that affords the student the ability to meet core competencies such as analytical thinking, information literacy, and intellectual heritage in non-traditional ways. While teleconferencing and distance learning continue to flourish, we struggle with ways to ensure that the student who is registered for the course is the student taking the course. We need to identify ways to ensure that assessment is more uniform among course sections. Where you have eighty sections of English 101, how do you ensure that all students are learning the same material other than through a common assessment? Yet faculty members balk at requiring one common assignment for all sections, citing academic freedom. I also believe that access is important—the disparity among college’s access is wide.”

“Both outcomes will exist. However, the Ivies, the top-10, and a few other well-endowed, high-cost universities will have the first outcome. As the middle class slowly sinks, the divide between rich and poor will increase. Option one will be the optimal choice but will only be available to those with the resources to afford it. The rest of us will have to accept option two if we want a higher education. This ‘higher’ education will be akin to a high school degree 100 years ago.”

“Higher education—particularly in Europe—is slow to evolve, and we haven’t seen major shifts here yet. Thus I doubt such a fast advance (i.e. eight years) in change. We may see the former scenario coming to life, but later than 2020.”

“The job market sucks. People are now having to find ‘creative’ ways to make ends meet. Going to college may not be the most economical choice for most, so there must be a new way for our society to remain competitive. People like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are proof that being highly successful does not require that little piece of expensive paper.”

“Maybe by 2025…”

“It is already a trend.”

“Campuses are already shifting significantly from the traditional, four-year curriculum structure. While on-campus, in-person participation will still predominate for younger students, just out of high school, remote learning will have a significance presence at colleges and universities. Classes will be available that are entirely taught online. Hybrid classes will also be a significant part of college life, both for the younger students, as well as mid-career students. Older students will become a much larger proportion of the overall campus enrollment. Especially for these older students, courses will emphasize applied theory. By this time, some schools will be experimenting with modular classes, allowing students to select components of a class outline, rather than be required to undertake each element in order to successfully complete a specific class.”

“2020 is too soon for the radical changes in the other option to happen. I believe we will end up there eventually, but not that quickly.”

“First, I think these changes are already occurring. I teach at a university, and I use multimedia in my classrooms: blogs, social media. I find professors who only use old methods (blackboard and lecture) are missing out on the opportunities of multimedia. In addition, these changes will enable students with special needs or learning disabilities to reach their full potential. However, I do not think the university as an institution will cease. We will probably still see some lectures, classes, and in-person meetings. But I can also see virtual classrooms and teleconferencing. There will be a seamless amalgamation of different types of learning experiences, and that’s pretty exciting.”

“Large institutions like universities will not change that radically in the next ten years—it might be more like fifty years. There is a tradition of undergraduate students living on campus, and I don’t see that tradition fading any time soon. More instruction and homework will be Web-based most certainly, but I don’t see the entire system changing drastically.”

“Professors adapt slowly, and the workloads in currently negotiated contracts do not encourage individuals to be ‘always on’ twenty-four/seven, yet the evidence is that youth have come to expect instantaneous response, however banal or ill-advised it may be. The money that pays the professoriate is still earned mostly by documenting attendance and seat-time, and legislatures will be extremely resistant to granting changes in pay and workload for people working in the ether who cannot be subjected to traditional measures of accountability.”

“I like the idea of a hybrid set-up best, since there is so much still to be valued in a face-to-face learning environment: learning to debate and share ideas in a confident and hopefully non-aggressive way and spontaneous social connection. There is the risk of isolation and extreme individualism, which needs to be balanced with group engagement.”

“Higher education is definitely changing. We are shifting toward hybridization of courses to maximize space availability on campuses, to appeal to the sea changes we are witnessing with our student body, and to stretch the shrinking financial support that public schools receive. Standards and standardized assessments are driving significant changes to curricula, too. Couple those changes with national policies that are endorsed/upheld and enforced by several professional accreditation councils, and we have a critical mix of standards-driven education. This is not entirely ‘relevant to subject mastery’ since its cookie-cutter approach to education flies in the face of proven pedagogical theories and praxis.”

“If there is any one common theme to the advance of digital technology and social media, it is de-centralization and the increasing empowerment of the individual. Just as it is no longer necessary to build or rent a chain of brick-and-mortar storefronts across the country, as with Amazon books, it will no longer be necessary to herd students and teachers together in one physical location. Education, at bottom, is a business just like any other and stands to gain just as much from digital technologies’ enablement of the ‘long tail’ business model. That is since communication and transmission of information across long distances now costs practically nothing. Internet gambling was one of the pioneers in this respect: There may not be enough horse race bettors or mah-jongg players in a given state to make the market profitable. But now, when the Internet and social media make it not only possible, but cheaper to reach across the whole nation, what used to be fringe markets can now be brought to profitable fruition. We are in, many ways, witnessing the dawn of a Golden Age.”

“The second choice is more reflective of the global FaceTime compression.”

“Higher education is already trending this way. I believe majors will become very individualized and specialized.”

“Hasn’t this already happened?”

“I am already in the process of moving our large Intro to Media Studies course online, partially under my own initiative, but also under heavy pressure from our governor, board of trustees, etc., who are obsessed with distance education as a seeming solution to all problems.”

“Higher education changes too slowly. Some progressive schools will embrace technology, but most will just tack it on to existing structures.”

“New technology will continue to replace and/or upgrade traditional classroom teaching models. I believe the increasing costs of energy will force alternatives to building, funding and maintaining schools, and that will propel online learning systems. The lack of jobs in the United States and competition overseas, will force innovations in training and education for higher-paying careers, and that, in turn, will drive an accelerated pace for adopting new technology in education. And, as career options become more specialized and diversified, most education programs will become significantly more customized to the individual student.”

“Last fall, I started an in-person graduate program, but by this fall, almost all of the courses in my program are online. On occasion we meet on campus, but almost all activities have the option of being ‘attended’ online through Web conference. Currently, providing classes this way appears to be cheaper for universities and more appropriate for students that are trying to work full time while going to school. However, I’m not sure that students gain the depth of knowledge that they deserve given the amount they pay. Individual outcomes have been taken into account for years, as most universities offered ‘interdisciplinary studies’ majors. The bigger concern is that ‘individually oriented outcomes’ means that anyone that pays the money can have a degree, even if it means they learn nothing in the process.”

“Education is in trouble at the secondary level, therefore I think universities will need to be more creative to engage students. The cost of education has become almost prohibitive, and therefore the new hybrid environment will help students gain accesses.”

“Higher education will continue to adopt technologies for the mass production and mass distribution of training modules, but this will be a poor substitute for true education. Elite private universities will look much like they do today, albeit with more hybrid options and some online courses for their own students during study abroad semesters or summer sessions. The poor and the middle class will be priced out of these universities; public institutions and for-profit schools will be forced to adopt inexpensive ways to prepare students for jobs, but there will be less and less humanistic, liberal arts education built into their curricula. A tenured professorate of teaching scholars will only exist in the private elite sphere.”

“The pace and direction will be determined greatly by what best suits university budget bottom lines. The transition will present some special challenges for some higher education subjects, such as the social and behavioral sciences, qualitative research methods, etc. that rely heavily on discussion, critical thinking, project-based learning, student-centered approaches etc. (especially at the graduate level). A rapid shift toward new modes of instruction means challenges and bumps for all subjects, of course. But I think the challenges will be less for some subjects, such as mathematics, statistics, and quantitative research methods for which the subject matter remains relatively stable year to year (though of course all fields are constantly changing) and which, for grading, now rely heavily or exclusively on exams. In the end, I think things will work out fine as long as universities acknowledge the different challenges for different subjects and allow for the necessary experimentation with different models for different subjects as needed.”

“Universities are very slow to change.”

“While I think the second outcome is desirable, institutions such as higher education change slowly. This will probably happen eventually, but not in nine years—maybe fifteen to twenty years. And even then, there will be a wide variety, including some schools/professors, that teach in the traditional manner.”

“Something better may happen in education, but not a revolution.”

“I would agree with the second paragraph if you changed the date to 2030-2040. The university as an institution is over 800 years old—it won’t change so quickly and easily, especially not until the pre-Internet professors retire.”

“Eventually universities’ assessment of learning will take into account more individually oriented outcomes and capacities that are relevant to subject mastery and that requirements for graduation will be significantly shifted to customized outcomes. But universities are large institutions and change comes about slowly in any large organization. So I think 2020 is too soon to expect this kind of outcome.”

“Universities will have to change to meet the needs of their client, the student. Expectations will be that information will be presented in a variety of forms, giving the content but not worried about the container. To achieve ongoing success in the business of education, universities will need to adapt. Assessment is always changing and will continue to change.”

“I work at a university, and change is very, very slow. And people are not motivated to change because of the academic freedom and autonomy they enjoy. It’s frustrating.”

“In 2020 the transition to a ‘quite different’ higher education landscape will not be complete, and there will still be holdout campuses who determine they will have a ‘niche’ in old-style education (as single-sex schools have or specialty schools have). But even those holdouts will have migrated toward elements of the ‘new world order.’ The overwhelming majority of the rest of the schools will have more fully embraced technological solutions than mass customization solutions. Mass customization of outcomes will be the province of early adopters, and they will find substantial rewards for adopting the approach, including governmental and private funding and increased applications from parents eager to be able to more clearly see return on their ‘investment.’”

“I see the divide between higher education as being across the for-profit and non-profit lines. Non-profit providers of education such as our traditional college and university systems will continue to rely on in-person, on-campus attendance and traditional lectures. The ecosystem in which they thrive is based on this model. The for-profit institutions, such as DeVry or Phoenix, who are already leveraging technology to match supply to demand, will continue to do so. This will also result in a shift in the format of education, with career- and job-focused education being delivered in a hybrid system, leveraging technology and more general, dare I say ‘liberal arts,’ education being delivered in a traditional manner.”

“There will be more online classes, but most of education will be in-person. Even as a shift towards greater technology, such as Facebook, Internet, cell phones, and iPods, has taken place recently, universities have still favored mostly face-to-face classes and only some online programs. The positive of this is that people will learn more. Some negatives are that there will be less of an incentive for people to finish school.”

“Higher education is in the midst of a transition. As an undergrad of the late-1980s and an MBA student of the mid-2000s, I saw a dramatic difference in how education was being delivered to students. The use of technology will hopefully lower some of the barriers to entry for some people because it can now be offered on a more flexible schedule—to meet the needs of students not the institution delivering the product.”

“This may not be as negative a shift as it first sounds. If classes and learning events are properly planned and if ‘online’ classes are intermixed with time on campus and live teleconference discussions, we may create a better, more focused way of learning.”

“The primary reason for selecting this is economics. It’s just cheaper to find the students for distance learning, and I do not expect this to change. And we’ll learn more about how to make such teaching effective for generating the kinds of workers businesses will pay for—so, again, economics will rule on this one. Having been educated the old way, I think this is a bit of a shame, and I do think there are advantages to the traditional campus. And I expect that there will still be holdouts for the older style of learning. But if I want to engage in, for example, a cooperation studies course with Howard Rheingold, I’m a lot more likely to do it online than I am to do it in person.”

“It has been my experience that universities are slow to change, at least not without internal ideological conflict.”

“I have been teaching hybrid college classes for several years. I love the online format, but the students much prefer the classroom setting. I don’t see that changing within eight years’ time. Learning is essentially social. The hybrid format has the potential to be social, but neither students nor faculty are sufficiently trained or acclimated to the psychological/social aspects of computer-mediated communication. Course designers ignore the importance of interpersonal connection. Online learning platforms are slow to integrate more advanced, multimedia technology. Other obstacles include accreditation bodies and employers: They may not view online or hybrid degrees as on par with traditionally earned degrees.”

“Scenario two is more likely as a result of knee-jerk reaction rather than a studied analysis of what students actually need. The pity here may be that ‘what students actually need’ may not be what students (or parents or funding sources) think they need.”

“2020 is only nine years away. Higher education is very slow to change (maybe rightly so). I don’t see them being that much different than today.”

“The second scenario will not happen because it is no fun to attend a college ball game via teleconferencing.”

“Yes, there will be more technology in the classroom and more personalised, individualised learning techniques. But a great part of the learning process involves hearing people who are passionate about their subject explain things in a highly accessible and engaging way.”

“The bread and butter of higher education is still going to be mediated and in-person. That is not to say that distance learning will not expand. I myself have done a post-graduate degree via distance learning, but I am a bit of a more mature student who has already done post-graduate work in person as well. The Internet makes this more possible, but the vast majority of higher education will remain mediated in person. You cannot get away from the ‘in-person’ experience for developmental reasons. We are nurtured from birth and need to socialise and interact in order to best develop our cognitive and social functions. Deny any part of that, and you remain partially fractured. Social studies have confirmed this time and time again. I don’t think I would be as ‘whole’ if I had done three of my degrees via distance learning.”

“Universities have been moving in this direction for a while now. It enables them to have more students, as they can then offer education at a reduced rate—they require less resources and still get the money in and more people get educated. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned. Not sure about the personalised outcomes though, as that never seems to feature strongly at any university.”

“Until you see Harvard or Stanford look like University of Phoenix, the classroom is not going away anytime soon.”

“Education will be a continuum. We will never ‘leave school’; instead we will use just-in-time learning and review whenever we need it. We will also extend our learning based on personal needs at any given moment.”

“Folks are already noting the shortcomings of webinars and distance education. These will continue, but we already are determining when they work and when they don’t. There will always be a place for hybrid classes, teleconferencing, etc., but they won’t take over as the routine way of doing things.”

“Universities, and for that matter just about any institution of learning, will need to reckon with the disruption caused by communications technologies. Learning took on a very different shape after the printing press, and what has happened in the last thirty years is at least as significant. We will likely see many universities explore technologically enabled apprenticeship models, synthesizing older and newer learning modalities. Successful learning in 2020 will take the best of what is offered to obtain the desired outcome.”

“Education will be influenced by the availability and high penetration of Internet-based resources, with social-networks-based tools probably evolving to a bigger spot.”

“Tuition costs continue to rise, making in-person, on-campus attendance prohibitive for many. The ‘haves’ will still attend in-person, on-campus classes because they can afford to and will reap the benefits of the interaction with the professors and other students. The ‘have-nots’ will get a more general, personally focused education that will help them get by. The ‘haves’ will excel and become leaders; the ‘have-nots’ will get the ordinary jobs. Japan and China will continue to surpass us academically because of a more traditional educational environment with more focus and accountability.”

“2020 is not that far off, and universities tend to make changes slowly.”

“Technology does not stand still.”

“Distance learning will grow, as will the use of tablets instead of stacks of heavy, expensive textbooks. Learning will also become more interactive, and there will be options to serve people who learn at different speeds and through different modalities. Technology will help make this happen.”

“We will see a shift in higher education in 2020. We are already seeing accommodations for people with Asperger’s Syndrome or for working people or people leaving military assignments. There is a definite movement to educate people at whatever level or whatever time availability they have. There is a real danger of scams (as we’ve already seen), and we will lose something in the watering down of the traditional university experience. The liberal arts education that many of us Boomers enjoyed will be less common. People will start to demand outcomes for their investment (i.e. jobs, or to be able to demonstrate job readiness). This is good and bad. In particular, arts education is important for critical thinking. But I suspect that arts education will continue to suffer from cutbacks in education dollars. Ultimately, people will demonstrate a love for the arts in their manga, in video gaming, in book group discussions. They will create on their Facebook and YouTube accounts, or whatever new versions of that come along. People will create, but there is a certain skill level that is lost when you don’t have art, dance, and music lessons as a kid.”

“I don’t think that 2020 is enough time to change the higher education system in such a big way. Although innovative, most universities are also slow to change—especially when it comes to their overall structure and approach to education. I do believe that given more time, the higher education system will change significantly and for the better. With costs continuing to rise at a rate almost double inflation, the use of technology to create ‘hybrid’ classes could be a great way to control costs and make college more accessible.”

“My university is changing so slow that in eight years from now, it won’t be so much different. It sounds sad, but I assume it will be that way.”

“Yes, there’s a shift in university practice and student behaviour, but the institutions still prefer students to be physically present, making use of the expensive buildings and facilities developed by universities over the years (and justifying their high fees).”

“For universities that are not explicitly ‘online learning’ institutions, there will still be a high value placed on personal attendance. That personal interaction, though, will be made more effective and engrossing through greater use of technology in the classroom.”

“I strongly recommend reading The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010, as well as previous versions of that survey, in order to understand this subject.”

“Both options will be simultaneously true. Elite institutions will stick to the traditional model (although heavily supplemented with technology) because the combination of technology and human interaction will create the richest educational experience—and perpetuate the elite class that sent those students to those institutions in the first place. Students at less elite institutions, students in vocational or trade schools, or non-traditional students (or those who cannot afford the cost of higher education) will take online courses with occasional contact with a professor. These institutions will be much more about preparing students for jobs/trades/careers/ versus any of the intangible benefits traditionally associated with education (building character, preparing for life, building general critical thinking ability).”

“While I agree that there may be some evolution, as is evidenced by the dramatically changing public funding for higher education, etc. I’d base my answer on historical consistency and having that traditional school experience that is passed down generation to generation.”

“Well, a hybrid of the two, leaning toward the one I checked. There will still be lectures, but technology will be even more integrated. Yes about hybrid classes. I think that there will be change, but it will take longer than expected. Not because the technology can’t handle it, but because the internal discussions about the trade-offs will slow the process.”

“While the platform for education is shifting to online and other forms of distance education, I believe standardized forms of assessment will remain in place. Individually oriented learning implies having a system that supports it as a practice and provides teachers with the resources they need to carry it out. We don’t have the ability to offer individual, customized learning to each student, regardless of the platform. As our country invests less and less in education and standards decrease, this is unlikely to change.”

“As important to learning (or, sometimes even more important than book learning) is the social experience of being together with your classmates. It’s one of the most important needs, according to Maslow. This need of socializing has been important for over a million years; I do think it will still be important in over ten years. And, being a bit pessimistic, cuts are forcing universities to have a certain amount of graduates each year, in order to assure their income (at least, in The Netherlands it is). When students are no longer forced to attend their courses, teacher/professors have no control on their progress. I don’t think they will let go of this power or control any day soon, being dependent on this progress for their own research budget.”

“By 2020, far fewer people will participate in higher education. Parents and teachers will have recognized that higher education is an overpriced waste of time for many students. Parents who are still struggling to pay off their own college debt while working in jobs that do not require college degrees will encourage their children to take a vocational track in high school. Vocational programs will adopt digital tools to provide students with hands-on experience working with the technical side of their fields.”

“I choose the second choice, if for no other reason than to believe that higher education will evolve. Unfortunately, what actually will evolve in the next eight to nine years lies somewhere in between these two statements.”

“The shift has already occurred to the latter choice. While in grad school, if we weren’t able to/didn’t want to attend class, we had the option of watching the live stream of it online; granted we didn’t get points for attendance (which was still mandatory), but the option was there. That will become more common, and hybrid classes will become the norm.”

“Higher education is transforming. Needing to be in a classroom is not necessary, and schools are figuring that out. Higher education also needs to transform into more customized learning. We need to start focusing on improving high school educations so that college educations can be completed faster and with more specialized training. I believe that in 2020 we’ll see far more students picking up ‘trades’ and the four-year university model not nearly as popular.”

“The answer is in between. We are already seeing a significant increase in distance learning and teleconferencing throughout higher education (as well as in community college settings), and this will continue to increase over time. There is definitely value to in-person meetings and group learning, so I would not rule that out, but probably these kinds of gatherings won’t be needed quite as often. In the 1970s at the University of Texas at Austin, I was one of the first to attempt personalized learning of the language of Arabic; I progressed more quickly by being able to work independently and to advance at my own pace. Our primitive system then involved using a tape recorder with headphones, simultaneously with a computer screen (that glowed green, smiles), and a pencil to write/copy Arabic characters on the computer screen to practice handwriting. It worked exceptionally well, and I know individualized ‘remote’ instruction has only improved and advanced after all these years! I am a big proponent of it.”

“Although the information technology has been developed dramatically, it doesn’t mean that it could change the whole system of education quickly. Some still prefer to have face-to-face discussion to understand academic concepts while we now see lots of Web courses available.”

“Every day there are more people with access to the higher education, and we have less money to service them, have more classrooms, and so on. The technology gives us the facilities to attend the courses, and it does not matter if we are near or far to the university campus.”

“2020 is too soon to abandon the in-place infrastructure, and there is value in collective learning in a physical space—even with the technologies. Companies today with advanced networks are still getting employees together for retreats, off-sites, and meetings. There is value in the social context of information sharing that technology has not quite eliminated yet.”

“Perhaps we are moving in the direction described in the second option, but not by 2020. Academia moves slowly.”

“The introduction of off-campus access to education will open the world of education to those that cannot afford it, driving down the price of high learning. Granted there will still be a need for labs and hands-on training, but the basic BS degree will be obtained online and on the users own timetable.”

“Affordability, accountability, and access will all play into higher education changes in the next ten years. Research shows that higher learning outcomes result from hybrid courses, so it seems obvious that this will become more prevalent.”

“Higher education is about as slow to move and migrate as any institutions we have. The broader issue for me is not even listed here; universities should be focused on critical thinking and subject mastery. Too often now the teaching focus is remedial and irrelevant. Aside from that opinion, I hope more institutions will adopt the second choice, and certainly there are examples already in place.”

“I am hoping that regular, old institutions embrace online learning and don’t leave it to the for-profit monsters. I do not know what hiring managers will think of the potential labor pool if everyone got his or her degree with little human interaction. Much of the college experience is about the in-person aspects and the emotional maturing that goes along with it (provided one does not use those four years to remain in a drunken stupor). I’d prefer the ‘not much different’ option, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s going to go. Current higher education institutions are being a little too stodgy and slow moving, and I think personal preferences and the need for instant gratification are going to pass them by (to make a gross generalization).”

“The first scenario is the more likely one in the short term (i.e., 2020 is only about eight and a half years away). In the much longer term, however, there will probably be much more customization of education.”

“Good teaching (though often too rare) always depends on interpersonal contact, but it has often been contact via the written word, and having it online is not less useful than correspondence and physical books. Even the ‘in-person’ discussions so important in education (teacher-student and students-to-students) can be achieved quite well through things like videoconferencing, though I doubt anything can really replace the learning that happens in collaborative student activities (sport, theatre, robot-building, etc.) or that other kind of learning which comes from moving out, becoming responsible for one’s own work and chores, forming relationships with new people on an adult footing, and so on. In any case, it’s a good thing that universities now have the means and the courage to be more flexible in their residence requirements and means of delivering the basic courses. An online lesson is at least as good as a seat in a 1,000-student survey course. Still, it’s unlikely to take the place of the graduate seminar, and an online multiple-choice exam will never adequately replace the term paper, let alone the class project.”

“This is already happening in many schools and academic institutions. We are seeing hybrid approaches to education.”

“Universities won’t want to walk away from their bread and butter of face-to-face learning.”

“We are seeing this change now, and it may happen before 2020. The universities that have the technology and are ready for the change will probably be successful. Those that do not go with the change may not be the top schools that they have always been. Distance learning is certainly more convenient for many college students, and I can imagine that high school may also go that way in the near future, as the shortage of teachers and budgets become tighter.”

“There will be a move to the second scenario, but there will be a swing back to the more traditional model (though this may happen after 2020). I think the social—offline social—aspects of university will be seen to be very important. Face-to-face interaction is more important than the developing online models give it credit for. This may lead to the hybrid models described in the second answer, but that may not cover the amount of face-to-face interaction that will happen. (I do, however, agree with the more individualised learning/teaching and assessment that the second answer describes.)”

“Much like a dollar bill, a university degree is meaningless unless it stores the same value for me as it does for you. If my custom-tailored degree in history from University X was achieved through a different grading process than your history degree from University X, then they’re not comparable. And when employers find they can’t count on University X for consistent quality in graduates from that institution, the reputation of University X will suffer. And University X will be guided back to standardized assessment, which will likely include ‘you-must-show-up’ marks.”

“The cost of an education has become cost prohibitive. There is also a limit to the number of students who can physically attend on campus (dorm space, class space etc.). This will force universities to find ways to expand their student population (revenue) in other ways. It is also going to be cheaper for students to cut costs by teleconferencing. It saves transportation and housing costs. In addition, this type of learning often allows students more flexibility, enabling them to take courses in addition to bringing in an income. There are more and more ways to collaborate remotely so that group assignments can be achieved without meeting in person.”

“In 2020 much of education will occur using distance learning via teleconference and Web-based courseware. I’m not sure that graduation requirements will be customized, but I do think that the middle class students will be forced to learn without the benefit of in-person classes, while those who can afford to pay a higher tuition will get the benefit of classroom learning. I see problems with eLearning being used as the principle style of education. Not only does that type of learning not work for everyone, but it further discourages the student from interacting with their peers or professors personally.”

“New technologies, along with the heavy demand for higher education, will impact traditional universities and require new modes of delivery. However, the high contact or touch is very relevant to education, and this will still be a major factor in university experience. The use of technology will nevertheless change the amount of seat time and also lead to capability-based assessments.”

“Blended learning will be a very good mixture of personal contact and individually chosen time and place to learn.”

“With the exception of the last sentence, I think university education will follow the second paragraph. Many schools are already doing this, and, depending upon the subject matter, have already accomplished a great deal of what has been described above. Basically, the curriculum will be the same, but it will be experienced in more enlightened ways than traditional lectures.”

“Electronic media and ‘hybrid’ classes are already heavily used in mainstream higher learning institutions. Distance learning is already used heavily also—the transition has already occurred. Regarding individualized education plans, the education industry cannot make that financially feasible. Some institutions may market their programs as such, but the results will not be any better than traditional programs.”

“Higher education is changing, whether for the better or worse that is up to the eye of the beholder. The demand for education that is not traditional will outstrip what can/is offered to an 18-to-22-year-old residential student. In order to be accountable, outcomes and skills will need to be measured differently. Also, because of the differing learning styles and technology, it will be part of many curriculums. It may not be everywhere, but it will be an expectation.”

“Whilst we might see increased use e-learning, established university structures are slow to change, and 2020 isn’t a very distant time-horizon given the pace of change in academic organisation. Distance learning is unlikely to make extensive use of teleconferencing other than increased use in one-to-one tutorials and small groups talking via consumer tools like Skype (at least, not without significant investment in facilitation skills of staff to teach via these media). However, text-based virtual learning environments (VLEs) will continue to develop and be adopted, and increased amounts of learning may be delivered through VLEs.”

“Although I do foresee there to be a shift towards more mobile learning, that complete change will not happen in the next eight years. Adolescents in general, especially young college students, still want the face-to-face and life experiences that ‘attending’ college allows them to have. For those individuals seeking degrees beyond the undergraduate level, especially degrees focusing on business and technology, I think we will see this transition happen a lot quicker.”

“I am sitting in a classroom with an iPad and I am engaging my students as part of a program that is teaching them to engage in civil action without the marching of the past. Considering that Florida will be all-digital by 2015, I think my job will be obsolete by 2030.”

“I have no doubts about this. What can’t go on forever won’t. Decades of exorbitant cost inflation will end, probably abruptly, as education consumers and taxpayers run out of money. Those universities that survive will have learned to live much more efficiently and to be more responsive to the customer (students).”

“We are evolving towards this format, but I don’t know if we’ll be there by 2020. My own college is moving in this direction, but since we’re a community college with an ‘open door’ admissions policy, I wonder if this will work here, since 80% of our students require developmental work, often in more than one area.”

“The second scenario is likely to happen, just not by 2020.”

“Universities will be largely online. This would be a positive if coursework was undertaken within a context that emphasised meaning. This will unfortunately not be the case.”

“Learning styles differ. People’s strengths differ. We need to think differently about education and the best way to teach people and allow them to use their best talents to their fullest. It may be in a classroom or it may not. Higher education—and even high school and below—are moving towards the second option, although I think it needs to be tempered with interaction with other people face to face because that brings value you can’t replicate over a computer.”

“The second answer will be accurate—in 2040.”

“Economic forces will drive this, for better or worse. The ‘requirements for graduation’ aspect will shift to outcomes customized for the educational technology, rather than the needs of students, business, or society. For example, automated grading will drive us away from creative assignments and towards online multiple choice evaluation.”

“Neither of the choices reflects my opinion. I see a change, but not the one in the second paragraph. Due to financial problems, universities want to deliver to more paying students for cheaper. So individual attention is not happening. Mass lectures go online. Fewer courses are taught by professors or professionals, and there is no time to spend with individual learning styles. Institutions form online degree programs because these make money.”

“Students are offered more experiences with less hands-on field trips. While more resources are good, missing out on hands-on, face-to-face field trips will socially hinder this generation. There should be a good balance of online vs. face-to-face interaction. All students learn differently, and not all of them have the motivation or organizational skills to be educated solely online.”

“2020 is not very far away, and the largest sector of higher education changes very slowly. It is likely that the commercial sector of higher education will expand and for them, the second scenario is more relevant. Also, I personally believe in the value of face-to-face interaction, although ideally not in the lecture-only format.”

“Universities don’t move that fast.”

“Higher education moves at a glacial pace, only slightly slower than government. Vested interests, tenured faculty, and hidebound tradition have stymied improvement for decades—and change comes not from the top but is driven by students who are more freethinking and technologically savvy than their teachers and professors.”

“There will probably be more choice with more traditional approaches offered by some institutions. Fragmentation of the current relatively monolithic system is likely.”

“A ‘brick-and-mortar’ education is very expensive, and with the economy lagging, it is not likely today’s graduates will be able to have a salary that will provide a return on investment for the education (some professions may be exempt from this statement).”

“This scenario will happen not just because technology will make it easier to cover the distance, but because academic institutions will have to use these cost-effective tools.”

“Higher education changes very, very slowly. While new technologies might enable new kinds of learning, the traditional structure of higher education will most likely not change.”

“Although methods of education are changing, I still believe a hybrid model will be in existence. The ‘institution’ will continue to be a physical entity. There is too much invested in that setup, and those involved would be hesitant to disrupt totally the educational model that has been the norm for hundreds of years.”

“While more online learning will be occurring in the future, the in-person, on-campus attendance of students will not stop. There is a necessary element to learning on campus that can’t be duplicated in online learning and must be maintained for significant learning to happen for the student. The positive of online learning capabilities is a greater access to information and teachers by the student during non-class hours. The negative of all online learning is the loss of potential encouragement by the teacher to motivate and excite students to learning. And the grey shade is possibly the student that will do well in school no matter what the mode of learning is taken—or the student that will do poorly in any setting.”

“I don’t think the educational system will change that much, but it will leave the adults coming out of it unprepared to enter into the workforce as productive members.”

“I’ve opted for the second scenario. However, it is not quite the way things are developing. Certainly blended learning will increase because it seems to work and because it has its devotees. On the other hand there is evidence that student attendance is declining because, I think, students can access university material from home and because they now expect college to conform to a growing experience of living in relative isolation online. The technology for distance learning has been available as long as there’s been a postal service, but educators saw advantages in coming to college. Little has changed, but there is resignation in that colleges seem to be about embracing ‘correspondence courses,’ which use not the post but today’s delivery systems.”

“I don’t think universities will change that quickly because the professors are not going to support this radical change in less than ten years. It may happen over a longer period of time.”

“Technology will change universities and the way we learn over time, but in 2020 things will look largely the same, with more ‘add-ons’ to learning via technology versus having technology fully replace the basic university experience.”

“The disinvestment of states in higher education hits home as they find their subsidies shrinking and college tuition raises capped. They are forced to adapt to find new revenue sources and find economies in online learning.”

“There will be gradual but significant changes in education as teachers creatively use the new tools available to them. Among the significant changes will be the accessibility of education and training to people who cannot attend traditional classes either because of distance and/or time constraints. Another significant change will be increased use of lifelong training and learning—not necessarily for degree credit but possibility for lifelong learning or professional education ‘credits.’ There will also be a countertrend as profit-oriented institutions use technology to offer faux education for profit. So while some people will be able to continuously keep up-to-date in their fields and maintain or even upgrade their skills and/or acquire expanded skill-sets, other people will be taken advantage of and will pay a lot of money for worthless credentials. Creative teachers will use technology to enhance education, work more efficiently, facilitate more efficient learning on the part of their students, and provide more customization. Ruthless for-profit ‘educational’ institutions will exploit an increasingly large group of people looking for short cuts and relying on so-called educational institutions that promise they can provide short cuts.”

“Even though the Internet offers a great way to share information, I guess current studying methods will be here for a while. I wouldn’t see myself learning integral calculus via e-learning.”

“One can’t substitute interpersonal relationships for anonymous knowledge.”

“It will take longer than seven years, but that the second paragraph is likely to happen within twenty years.”

“There will be less independent thinking.”

“Higher education changes slowly. The second choice is likely a mostly accurate prediction for twenty to forty years from now, not nine.”

“There will be both types of universities. Today in some countries we have remote learning, but they are not the big majority or the higher ranked. In the future, people, depending on their need, will be able to elect between the two models and find good choices in both types.”

“Academia is conservative, which has both its good and bad sides. On one hand, it helps to preserve the (relative) independence of science from more and more intrusive external interests. One of the basic elements in scientific education and innovation is the personal, face-to-face mode of learning and reflecting. It can be helped and supported by distant learning methods, but they can only be of secondary importance. On the other hand, the autonomy also means that universities harbour and cherish traditions and methods that are harmful to science and innovations. The balance between the wider societal interests and the autonomy principle is difficult to strike. However, before 2020, no major changes in this continuous negotiation process will take place—most universities will loom about the same as they are today.”

“I do not agree with the timeframe in which the second scenario will happen—it’s only nine years from now—but I do think it will happen. While there have been significant adoption rates of teleconferencing and distance learning, and those will continue, I do not believe the vast majority of higher education will be ready to focus on individuals rather than groups of individuals. I’m using the term ‘vast majority’ because you have to have a vast majority to suggest that higher education will be quite different from the way it is today.”

“This shift is already occurring. The more students who have experienced technology, the easier the transition will be. Right now, it is the older students who are more comfortable with the in-person classes. As they age out, computer-assisted, individualized learning will take precedence.”

“If distance learning was so effective, it would have happened already and we would already see proof of this concept in the business world. Silicon Valley is a concentration of talent because of the physical proximity of people to people. This also happens in the arts, a physical concentration of like minds who stimulate and grow as a group. A great university is the same; it has a buzz and a visceral affect that can’t be duplicated via distance learning.”

“Though I believe the second option will be the norm, there will be a countermovement concerned that an on-campus experience is important to the growth of this group of students. That said, I fear that as students believe they are getting what they want and need, there is no way to confirm that this type of education will necessarily prepare them for life after college. Though employers may adjust to this, there is also the chance that they will not. And this group of students may find themselves living at home well into their 30s. That’s even further encouragement to limit friendships and communication styles to what they experienced in elementary and secondary education.”

“Cost and concerns about access will drive the system to change. On a positive note, more will gain access, but the quality of what they get will decline.”

“As more universities, especially the public universities, invest in more partnerships with technology-oriented corporations, we will see an increase in interdisciplinary programs and centers that will entrain students to think outside the boundaries of the classical disciplines in preparation for problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking. Graduation requirements may be more tailored. In college scenarios, and especially in the two-year community colleges, we will see more face-to-face instruction preparing students for the trades that support knowledge work, e.g. management of information systems, installation of green technologies, database management, administrative assistance, etc. Those graduation requirements will become more customized as more new information industries demand new kinds of graduates. The 2020 model of higher education will focus on making the student a person who can effectively translate problems into solutions, translate intercultural conflicts into opportunities for innovation, and translate data and information into knowledge products. The move to distance learning is precisely a shift in that direction as universities move to online, fee-based professional programs as revenue-generators while remaining true to their mission to provide a solid liberal arts and sciences education.”

“Higher education will need the flexibility and creativity to access experts to a wider audience, making learning more accessible to those who can’t come to campus.”

“The slower pace of change reflected in the first scenario is more likely. The bureaucratic rigidity of most university systems, combined with the budget cuts these institutions will contend with for several more years, will limit the speed of the transformation described, though these changes are inevitable in time.”

“Academia has been slow to really embrace and effectively use Internet communication networks. Although I believe the changes described in option two will take place, I don’t think it will happen by 2020.”

“While I like the optimistic view of more responsive and personalized higher education, universities have proven very resistant to change away from their existing structures, and 2020 seems too soon to expect a complete revolution in how universities function. Instead of a more flexible understanding of how learning can occur in universities, the greater pressure in this relatively short timeframe will be financial. Universities will look for the cheapest way to provide accredited learning, even if this means sacrificing more personalized outcomes.”

“If the economics of higher education continues in its current direction, I think there will be more students enrolled in online classes; however, I don’t know that it will lead to more personalized courses of study or individualized outcomes. My concern is that it may, in fact, become more like a distance learning factory.”

“Universities move more slowly than the rest of the world. Until the vast majority of tenured professors retire, I see the system as only moving slightly toward hybridization. For-profit schools that can greatly benefit from students at a distance and alternative models of education will embrace the later. But traditional schools of higher education will remain somewhat the same.”

“There will be a hybrid model. Going on campus is still an important socializing need. The best learning is still in groups in person. Having just finished a robust hybrid MBA where I met my classmates online nearly every evening and on the weekends, the most enjoyable and greatest learning aspect were in-person learning sessions every six weeks. The more time spent together in person, the better it will be.”

“By 2020 it will be somewhere between these two. There will be more opportunities for distance learning, and universities will adapt to this.”

“The pressure of the cost of education will force for-profits and competing non-profits to look for cost reducers—distance learning is such a cost saver.”

“The universities’ current educational and economic models are unsustainable. Intelligent use of technology will need to be brought to bear in order to ensure that the maximum number of individuals can take advantage of limited instructional time, space, and staff resources. I do not agree that graduation requirements will be significantly shifted to customized outcomes because those seeking to employ these rising workers will demand some level of standardized competencies.”

“The driver for this will be reducing the cost of education. It will have negative results on the whole because students will be trained to take tests and can participate online in a way that doesn’t require deep thinking.”

“I’m not sure this answer is as clear cut, nor is it completely a function of technology. The increasing cost of higher education is making it prohibitive for most Americans; in addition, the dismal economy and failure of recent grads to get jobs will cause many to question the potential investment and subsequent financial burden. While online learning does not have the cache of a terrestrial university degree, it may become more of an option. Continuing and executive education will likely become more heavily online than in person. I don’t think the schools will go away, but I think the landscape will become more competitive as more potential students (and eventual employers) become online alumni.”

“Several factors will make this happen: a) advance of technology and tools b) culture shift c) continued pressure on cost and access, and d) rapid changes in job market and skill set requirements, which demand a non-stop cycle of continued learning. This is not to say that traditional classroom will disappear, but it will certainly change dramatically, co-existing and complementing online learning.”

“The ‘university’ has not changed substantially since its founding in about 800 AD or so. Other than adding books, electricity, and women, it is still primarily an older person ‘lecturing’ to a set of younger ones. But innovation does come from entities that are not called ‘universities’ or are deemed ‘sub-standard’ by the older-form ones. Examples include Phoenix, Western Governor’s, et al. I think there will be both a large number of largely traditional universities and an ever-expanding range of alternatives in both technology and organizational form.”


“Universities will probably be a thing of the past, but not as soon as 2020. There will be more online courses, and instructors and students alike will enjoy learning in the comfort of their own home.”

“Scenario two will happen, with technology embedded in and out of the classroom, with emphasis on real-time work experience.”

“I expect a huge movement towards knowledge management tools that enhance the learning practice and focus on each individual path while maintaining engagement at a social level. This could make the learning experience tailored to each individual, and at the same time aggregate responses and perceptions from a large group of students in order to direct toward specific learning goals.”

“I agree with different. I don’t agree with the specific scenario presented.”

“Individuals will be able to ‘pick-and-choose’ their educational paths from global sources. Unless there is a technological breakthrough that allows HD video via reading glasses-sized displays, there will be segmented consumption—large-screen video at home and office for pleasure and learning and small-screen video for info updates. People will learn from video and audio, with less emphasis upon the written word. There will be a tendency to easily forget the past, even the recent past, and therefore repeat the mistakes previously made. Because the individual will be able to choose his or her educational path more fluidly, ‘credentialing’ will become a major industry in education. It won’t necessarily be what you know and have experienced, but does your present knowledge have value, and have you proven capable of learning ‘on the fly’?”

“In 2020, university students will be more diverse, dispersed, and less visible than they are now. Students of the future will pay more and also expect more from their university career—including twenty-four/seven access to resources and new modes of study that can be delivered to them regardless of their location. Universities must change and be able to demonstrate value for money and an emphasis on customer care. Despite a more competitive market, universities of the future will see a new emphasis on shared services in order to save money, reduce duplication of effort at both a national and international level, and enable them to concentrate more heavily on the things that make them unique.”

“Blended learning will increase as lectures are delivered electronically, but individual sessions will continue in the creative and performing arts. Customization will be more possible, but standards will exist that give credence to a degree.”

“Education is broken. We are already seeing the more individualized programs succeed where the factor model is failing so many students. Expertise about facts will not matter as much as expertise about ways to look at problems and solutions, which are harder to communicate than facts. We will increasingly see value in learning how others learn, more than what they learn.”

“Higher education in the United States will look very different in nine years, especially if all states adopt student assessments of instruction in retention and promotion decisions and if the country begins to dissolve traditional tenure-track professorships. In this scenario, the older professors—who are generally less open to changes to their courses, like hybridizing/online/just-in-time etc.—will get terrible student assessment scores (since students don’t like straight lectures) and either get offended and leave the profession, retire, or be fired. This will start skewing the average age of professors to the Gen-X and Millennials, who are more open to changes in curriculum, new technology, and adapting to a variety of needs.”

“It seems as thought many professors and administrators have made the observation that when students are in class and participate, better grades can be achieved. So I think the option of allowing students to take non-traditional courses with no professors present will not benefit the students nor will it be present at universities. I predict the school tradition will remain the same.”

“Having recently gone back (after many years) to do some post graduate course work study, I have noticed a marked change in the ‘university experience’ of young people today—and I don’t feel it is positive. I suspect largely driven by financial imperatives, students spend much less time on campus than I did as a young student. Many (not all) miss out on a valuable learning and social experience that casual contact with other students provides. I’ve noticed an increase in class size and much more of a ‘production line’ approach to the university experience, on the one side the production of students and the other the acquisition of qualifications. University is more than just acquiring knowledge and ‘learning to learn,’ it is also about establishing a social network that can often last a lifetime. This is not something you can do remotely, however sophisticated the technology. I’ve also noted that despite the availability of interactive technologies, little use is made of them in the course I have done; notes, etc. are provided online, but they are not used as part of teaching tools, I suspect due the comfort levels (or lack of the teaching staff). Also, I have recently observed my daughter doing one of her high school subjects using distance education due to a timetable clash and have been appalled at complete the absence of any use of technology—we have a way to go in this area.”

“Most universities have invested too much in the current setup to give away teaching as it is largely done now. But there will be more universities offering correspondence/distance learning, and technology will feature strongly. Government spending will also have some impact.”

“Universities and university infrastructure, especially their IT departments, are slow to change and can’t be nimble or cost-effective based on their operations, culture, and business practices (or lack thereof). As an example of this, universities still insist on creating their own email systems for their universities and roll their own grade book systems. Why? Students won’t balk too much because they will attend universities to meet other people and get away from home, experience the intellectual camaraderie and campus life. Being in the same room as a Nobel laureate will still win over logging into a live YouTube stream. The basic model of economical knowledge delivery has always been the lecture, and university campuses are brick-and-mortar places that can’t be changed quickly. While some modes of instruction will have online notes, supplementary lectures online, and other digital materials, the ‘sage on the stage’ is the preferred and predominant practice of university teaching. New university professors who want to change the way they teach are not rewarded for innovative, collaborative approaches to learning, using high-tech or blended learning tools. The incentive structure is not set up in a university to change the fundamental model of how young people want to learn.”

“Distance learning is working pretty well for adults who need to learn new skills. There seems to be no indication that the value of the traditional model is declining. In fact, high-level students from Asia and elsewhere want to come to US higher education for what is offered.”

“I agree with this depiction of the future, but an not as certain of the time frame. By 2040, this will be true.”

“Neither scenario is right on point. The necessity to control costs will mean that, although assessment will improve, it won’t be as individualized as described. However, technology will facilitate customization of program requirements.”

“The modern economy requires increased familiarity with online resources, and higher education had better adapt.”

“This is already starting. With the focus on resource usage, more people will opt for distance learning.”

“The shift to online learning will occur, and a fracas will ensue as universities try to reduce funding/increase enrollment based on the theory that online education is ‘more efficient,’ while students continue to require about the same person-hours from instructors as before.”

“Universities are awfully slow to adapt. And why should they? At present they have a lucrative monopoly. In what other industry do you see such runaway price increases? They’ll ride that for as long as they can and only change when on the cusp of irrelevance.”

“Higher education is being transformed as much by the economic and financial crisis as by anything else. The old model is looking increasingly unsustainable, at least on the level of state universities and community colleges, so universities will turn to technology to help them innovate and cut costs while bringing new forms of value to the student. This means that the liberal arts college experience may become a thing of the past for all except the most elite students.”

“It is vital for the growth of the economy of the United States that the changes that are described in scenario two occur. We are never going to be able to build the workforce of the future knowledge economy if it costs $40,000 per person to obtain a college degree. Interestingly we are seeing the smaller schools taking on the role of changing the model, as they must in order to survive. Larger or more prestigious schools are in no hurry to make the necessary changes; they do not see the need to do so, as they are experiencing ever-increasing numbers of applicants for their limited seats. We are seeing these changes in the area of graduate education currently. This is primarily to meet the needs of working adults. This model is going to have to be extended to community college students and to allow high school students to take college level courses during their final years of high school. Not sure we will get there by 2020, but this is the future that is required of our higher education system.”

“With today’s software, cloud computing and processing power, better and more flexible interaction with devices of all kinds, and more capable broadband networks, it should be possible to individualize teaching strategies to better fit the learning approaches of each student and customize curriculum. The difficulty is in predicting when these changes will occur. We may have reached a tipping point with devices like the iPad that make it much more feasible to provide real-time, personal learning via networks. Change in education is difficult, so whether or not we will reach this point in another ten years is the question. I am not confident we will, but on the other hand, the economy is driving faster change in many institutions, so it may yet happen.”

“The economics of higher learning will determine where students are taught. My graduate school is already offering remote-learning classes, which strikes me as being a money saver rather than enhanced learning tool.”

“Clearly higher education needs to rethink how it approaches education. Whether or not hybrid classes are the solution, or fewer class meetings is the solution, I don’t think that these are the only solutions. How about classes where we focus on interdisciplinary problem solving that don’t use traditional lecture, but that class meeting times are used to collaborate, research, draw conclusions, test hypotheses, etc.?”

“I’m teaching graduate courses for Alaskan Educators. Commercial eLearning businesses are outperforming universities, and K-12 institutions. Having taught thirteen years online for the University of Montana, when they didn’t see any potential for online learning despite the national recognition of my Big Sky Telegraph project, I don’t see most universities surviving—too little willingness to learn and to innovate, too much politics of control. Educational institutions are slow to change, but students with digital devices are just the opposite: able and committed to keep each other up to the same instant of progress.”

“The answer lies somewhere in between. There will still be value in face-to-face interaction in university environments and the sense of an intellectual community with bonds developed in person. University libraries and librarians will play a more visible role as faculty in creating outcomes and in organizing and creating access to expertise in a variety of formats.”

“Online education is booming and will grow not just in the United States, but around the world. For-profit colleges that use virtual classrooms will continue to grow, despite their funding controversies, and traditional brick-and-mortar schools will rely more and more on technology to connect teachers and students.”

“Universities are very slow to adapt to anything new. I do not think 2020 is far enough into the future to realize the second choice’s optimism.”

“Nine years from now, universities will still be very similar to what they are today. However, I attribute this more to institutional slowness within the academy than to other factors. Today’s faculty won’t be immensely different from faculty in another decade. However, if one expands the time frame out to fifteen to twenty years, then I think that some anticipated changes to distance learning may start to become dominant. In other words, I still think that the majority of universities are in an experimental stage, and it will probably take the whole next decade for major changes to be fully implemented.”

“Most universities are far too slow to adapt to new learning methods and technologies.”

“We’ll see a massive rise in distance learning and more remote and electronic alternatives to traditional higher education, but overall, I see the ‘top-100’ universities adopting new technologies to enhance traditional in-classroom curriculum.”

“The rate of change in higher education will be as glacial as it always has been. There will be pockets of faculty who embrace hybrid or alternate modes of delivery, but in a mere nine years, we still will have faculty who are unable or unwilling to embrace even simple technologies on their own. I could see the change you outline in the second scenario in, say, twenty-five years. Again, the reality of the situation will be somewhere between the two.”

“Changes in higher education take a long time to happen, and I don’t foresee a very drastic change in this time period.”

“In the last century, large university classes, mostly in the first and second years of undergraduate study, were composed of large numbers of students whose attention span was short due to the impersonal nature of the class and the inability to interact with the instructor or professor. The promise of technology is to make that featureless characteristic disappear and to instill a sense of meaning in the topics being taught. If anything, wireless smart devices may hinder learning but the advantages of having textbooks available online and accessible with a smart device may lower costs to parents and students. While the nature of the lecture as a means to instruction may evolve, the core structure of the university probably will not dramatically change. Has it since the eighteenth century?”

“There will be more virtual universities and virtual classrooms. One only has to visit Second Life to see the huge growth there, in regard to multiple areas of education. Distance education and online programs are also growing at a fast rate. The positives: Convenient, widespread educational opportunities increases access to those who work full time, live in areas without competitive schools, etc.”

“To be honest, education is the last to change. It will continue to try to maintain the factors that they have used for years—unfortunately many of these might be at the expense of the students they are ‘teaching.’ Technology is available, and again it is the young people (those attending college) that know how to use it and expand upon it for it’s greatest use. Those running the universities are much more uncomfortable and unfamiliar with technology, and if history is any predictor, they will want things to stay the same.”

“I work in online higher education and definitely support the second answer strongly. The media has always been the message. In fact, I think that your predictions of what will happen in 2020 fall short of the mark. The changes will be more far reaching than you’ve described.”

“University learning turns into some online evergreen program, but our schools are currently being asked to adopt more standardized testing. How does that work? I took a number of graduate courses that were online or partially online, including classes on Internet theory. The question was never if online classes can replace face-to-face learning; the professors and students know it can’t, and they all truly value the in-class time. Not to mention, all that technology is going to be really expensive, and unless Goldman Sachs and the rest of the ‘one percenters’ decide education is worth funding, instead of making it less accessible to students of all socioeconomic groups, this just isn’t going to happen. Especially in only nine years.”

“Universities in the year 2020 will be just offices of professors. Most classrooms will not be needed because college courses will be transitioning into all online courses. Positives will be that students can take classes at their own convenience. Negatives will be less face-to-face interaction.”

“In an ideal world, the second scenario would be the way, with an emphasis on practicums and case studies, but it may not occur by 2020, but shortly afterwards.”

“Already, there are more and more institutions offering non-traditional education methods, such as allowing students without undergraduate education to enter and obtain master degrees. These programs usually cost more than traditional programs. It’s not clear to me that the outcomes of such new programs are consistently as beneficial to students or society as traditional programs. Time will tell.”

“I wish there were a choice that falls in between the two because that’s where I see higher education heading. I don’t think the world is ready to eliminate the traditional university experience completely. Otherwise, applying to college wouldn’t be the huge deal it is. We are still very much a society set in tradition, and going to college is a very heavy and significant accomplishment. I definitely think the university experience will start to include more virtual/wireless options, as technology advances, however, and I think Twitter and Facebook are going to become a part of a regular university class curriculum. But I selected the first choice because I think 2020 is too soon for the second choice, mainly. I do think the second choice is more applicable to office life, though. I think we are going to start having a ton more telecommuters, and a ton less ‘staff meetings.’

“Higher education institutions tend to adopt change slowly. 2020 is only eight years from now. I expect more use of technology, but due to market forces, this will not fundamentally change grading systems or graduation requirements.”

“This vision for change is a stretch because higher education can be slower to change than other sectors of culture. Many of these changes must come about because of the economics of education and the need to attract students.”

“The options are quite extreme. The in-person, on-campus attendance will remain a marker of a good-quality education; at the same time, the mostly remote, on-demand approach, while making education more accessible to wider masses, will yield mediocre results (very much needed, but mediocre). Although MIT makes it course materials available online, the learning and socializing experiences of actually attending the institute are unique. At the same time, I can envision more individualized assessment and more personally tailored approaches to the learning experience being employed within the traditional settings; but I find it difficult to imagine that, in mass, the system will be willing to give up some sort of a unified assessment across the board as a means to compare between students.”

“They will look very similar—maybe more built up and less open space as universities attempt to increase enrollment. There are studies coming out discussing the overuse of media in classrooms. I think that use of media in American universities will stay consistent, not increase or decrease.”

“There is significant evidence that people learn in different ways, beyond simply visual vs. audio. As we discover the ways people learn and what people are interested in, the education system will shift to encourage those skills.”

“If the condition was ‘by 2030,’ I would have selected the second option. As things stand now, however, the educational system will take longer to reform to the standards set in the second choice (and ones that I actually prefer). More legwork needs to be done in terms of increasing the credibility of online classrooms (something a few tiers above the University of Arizona), peer-to-peer universities and programs need to grow in popularity, cost of technology needs to drop (attending class from your mobile phone seems unlikely, at least the way phones look now), and something serious would have to happen with the college industry (via Congress?) in order to slide the world toward into this future. We’re more likely to see a rise in vocational programs and a decrease in collegiate attendance before we see a total reformation of what it means to attend college. There’s no incentive for the system to open up and customize to the degree described unless attendance and influence are at risk—and for that to happen, I think we’re going to need more than eight or nine years.”

“This tradition is too dominant to drastically change in less than nine years.”

“In 2020, universities will have more technology, individualized classes and programs, and more people will be taking online classes. Already the need for online courses and degrees is growing, and as technology advances and people become busier, online will be the most beneficial option for those adults and students. Also, because of the mass budget cuts at universities, it makes more sense for them to save money and use teleconferencing, online classes, and other distance learning services.”

“Cost will drive the change, and technology will enable the transition.”

“Most universities’ assessment of learning will take into account more individually oriented outcomes and capacities that are relevant to subject mastery. However, I disagree that in ten years significant numbers of learning activities will move to individualized, just-in-time learning approaches. One of the lessons I learned in university is the skills to tackle larger, more complex problems in collaboration with other students over the course of an academic semester.”

“There is potential for new technology that is much more interactive. The future of education lies in that which we can’t predict, not in the already stale educational mechanisms of today. Currently, there is no alternative that works as well as face-to-face education. But face-to-face education is expensive, and the cost alone could date it.”

“I wish higher education would be different, but I don’t see the willingness on the part of the universities and other higher education institutions to make the change. They have made significant investments in brick and mortar, and unless they stuff those buildings full of students, it’s been a waste of resources. I can see small shifts in programs and classes offered, but only from pressure from employers asking for graduates to be more learned in certain areas. I have yet to see a visionary higher education institution embrace the potential of new technologies and the pace of the demand. I think one-year advanced degrees and certifications should be developed; more online and group learning and more leadership in general from universities need to be displayed.”

“Yes, blended or ‘hybrid’ learning will become the new norm. With video technologies and such, it doesn’t make sense to pay the high cost of having students sit in a classroom all the time. I see the trend as a positive because schools and students will be able to realize savings in different ways. The shade of gray is the ability for people to monitor students’ integrity with regard to cheating. That’s something that’s really learned at home, but unfortunately not every student learns honesty from his or her parents. They have to be taught by a school that cheating and plagiarism is wrong. Another bright side is equity in education. Online, without video, everyone is the same gender, race, ethnicity, weight, nerd, etc. It will be both good and bad. Teachers will have to become more technologically savvy.”

“The economics of instruction and delivery will dictate the second scenario, if not the preference of those seeking credentials.”

“2020 is too soon for this kind of change. Changes like those in the second option are coming, but much more slowly. Remember the paperless office? I’ve got more paper than I did then! And face-to-face learning and interacting is still important. I suspect that the time for it will be compressed and that part of higher education will shrink, from four to seven years down to two to five over time.”

“Universities as communities will need to stay as they are for the benefit of students focused on studies. Certainly technology will have its place. Online education will also have its place, and by force, degrees will be offered based upon some accumulation of hours and milestones in testing. The cost of a traditional education will be very high, another reason that people-free education will become an acceptable alternative.”

“Universities are driven by bottom-line financial implications. Many are pushed (possibly even to the peril of the learner) to adopt newer techniques for personalized learning approaches.”

“The market will shift toward a more disjointed, creative form of providing education, and that will cause a shift to a new level of academic acceptance.”

“It’s already changing, and learning has to change with the times.”

“Neither is the anticipated scenario. Considering how underfunded education is and expensive it is becoming, I anticipate it being much worse in the next nine years.”

“Universities are slow to change, and the power of interactive learning is too powerful.”

“When humans decrease interacting with each other face to face, the consequences will be horrendous. A child goes to school basically to meet other children and live with them.”

“Currently most knowledge is passed from teacher to student. I anticipate that technology will impact higher education in a way almost unimaginable at the present time. It isn’t that teachers will be replaced; their roles will change from being a conduit of knowledge to a coordinator and arbiter of knowledge. With all that exists online, students can be directed to sites that can teach much of what is covered in class now. Teachers will still be needed to mentor and guide students in the processing of ideas that they encounter in their studies.”

“Financial considerations will be the driving factor—expense reduction rather than enhancing the learning environment.”

“Let’s hope so—the old, expert as the teacher model is well worn out. Helping faculty learn how to mentor, facilitate, and guide deeper learning on a much more individual level is key. Technology affords us the tools to potentially do this for larger numbers. If truth be told, those of us that benefited from those critical elements of guidance in our profession know it was only accessible to a chosen few who had the interpersonal skills, support, and drive to make connections with faculty who would then reciprocate.”

“Current universities are already behind the times—worst of all are the professors. Look for more and better choice.”

“It is simply as a matter of cost—fewer in-person classes, more reliance on electronic delivery. It’s not necessarily a better education; possibly a worse one.”

“The current corps of professors and administrators will still be in place in 2020. Thus in-person learning will still be emphasized. I do see a definite trend toward more design-oriented assignments, however. Students are already being tasked with assignments styled as vlogs, oral histories, short videos, and websites. Younger professors are embracing and encouraging media-designed assignments with rich Internet components instead of black text double-spaced on white paper.”

“Yes, except that the ‘customized’ outcomes will be essentially customized to work functions—a sort of higher level trade school even for the professions. I fear that a generalized liberal arts education will be lost.”

“Students will arrive on campus expecting to make extensive use of content management systems (CMS). Colleges and university’s will also have to move to CMS systems to control costs and deliver classes to students at the time and places they are so that they can work to pay for their education. The high-end Harvards of the world may not need to change, but the rest of the higher education establishment will have to change to fit the economic and time constraints of the new traditional student. The CMS will be a big part of that change.”

“The whole university model will be upended, and we’re already seeing signs of that now. The long-term usefulness of a college degree is highly debatable, except perhaps in the case of an advanced degree like a JD, MD, etc. The learning model of the professor speaking and the student taking notes and then spitting it back on a test never made a hell of a lot of sense to begin with, and it’s demise is near.”

“There will continue to be a movement toward online resources, but much of the value with higher education is with the interaction with other students—not only in broadening one’s own views, but more importantly through gaining experience in how to work with and influence groups. Online can take some of the drudgery out of the process, but face-to-fact interaction is a absolute must.”

“While technology can advance, changes to curriculum must pass governance and be supported by tech-savvy instructors. Higher education changes occur at generation time scales due to slow faculty churn. Technology is viewed skeptically as fashion of the decade.”

“The ability to work in groups is critical to successful employment, particularly with individuals who are not of like mind, background, or disposition. Personal interaction in a classroom is the foundation for success in real-life employment situations, and I believe virtual classrooms limit the progress and development of skills for effective collaboration.”

“2020 might be too soon for this, but it’s hard to imagine colleges and universities aren’t going to continue to evolve eLearning, distance education, and anything else that will allow them to grow enrollment.”

“We are already headed this way with some schools, like San Jose State University, offering selected MA programs exclusively through a virtual setting.”

“The middle path here is the true one, that instruction based primarily on face time with faculty (small classes, seminars) will become a value-add that will characterize our most elite and expensive institutions. At these institutions, technology will have an important roll to play at the periphery, as described here. At large state institutions, the scenario will look more like the second choice.”

“Universities will have to be brought kicking and screaming into the new model of learning. The Internet already has most learning facts online. Universities will instead have to focus on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of application and evaluation, and the learning part will be delivered online.”

“The time frame is too close for option number two. By 2030 or 2040? Maybe. But 2020 is just two student generations from now.”

“Due to the declining economy and to massive unemployment, our workforce will need to be retrained in highly cost-effective ways that suit a variety of lifestyles. Residence at a campus distant from home and family for young people with few responsibilities may still be the paradigm for some educational institutions like the highly selective private liberal arts institutions, but it will not work for what has been called the ‘non-traditional’ student. While some private liberal arts institutions will continue to be successful specifically because they offer face-to-face, small group teaching and learning, the majority of successful higher education institutions will offer online learning opportunities.”

“Our society still values the residential college experience as part of the socialization and maturing processes that help teens become independent adults. We as a culture associate this period too closely with the opportunities we ourselves experienced to reject it outright. We gain too much from the interaction and exchange of ideas in a safe, structured learning environment to abandon it altogether. Technology and Web access have the potential to enhance the traditional residential college learning experience. For those who do not come from college-educated families, the allure of distance education and (possibly) lower price tag will be appealing.”

“The second scenario is most likely. In fact, we are already moving quickly in that direction. In the past five years at my university, we have moved to distance education (building out five full multi-site, multi-camera video systems and use them every night for non-traditional students in degree completion programs). We need to build out many more to meet the demand, so that is definitely a growing trend. Also, in the past five years, we have added many, many more hybrid and ‘all-online’ classes as well as just launched degrees that are now available as 100% online. Individual assessment and individually oriented outcomes is a logical extension of the ‘end game’ of where we have begun to go already. Not to mention the fact that it’s happened in other industries (individual attention and preferences is more commonplace in many industries, and education is just playing catch up).”

“Having just come from the EDUCAUSE 2011 Annual Conference, I’m more inclined to believe the latter is most likely to be the case. And I happen to be a product of a hybrid graduate program in library and information science that is now fully online. Yes, quality is a concern, but it always has been. Online makes teaching and learning more visible and, therefore, subject to closer scrutiny. Not a bad thing!”

“The second scenario actually isn’t that ground-breaking. Many of these elements are in play at the traditional liberal arts college that I currently work in. Individualized education isn’t futuristic.”

“With the new technological tools and new inventions, the world will become one big country, whereby everyone will be able to communicate together virtually. Higher education will change drastically as it will move away from traditional lecturing. Learning will be based on students learning from each other with the existence of a coach.”

“While I am seeing a fairly clear shift at both community college and university levels toward teleconferencing and distance learning, the complications of this shift are understood within the system, but management tools to surmount them have not yet really become available. The concept of just-in-time teaching is a lovely idea and incredibly impractical in practice. The problem is not the technology but the training in how to use it. Too many faculty members are frankly not equipped to make the shift; they do not have the time or the incentive to learn new ways of teaching. At the community college level, the disjunction is worse—faculty are not compensated for anything but student contact time and thus have zero incentive to learn anything more than the absolute minimum they need to know to conduct their jobs. The problem, frankly, is the lack of respect for teaching as a profession, including the lack of compensation at the basic levels. As a society we reward specialists, not generalists. Those of us who teach at the gateway level are expected to do our work “for the love of the job,” which is stuff and nonsense, while scholars and educators in specialty programs make six figures for bringing corporate moneys to the universities and colleges. The quality of their teaching, at the evaluation levels, is suspect, though highly compensated. Ours is understood to be more important but valued at less than the cost of a babysitter. Until this is addressed at a societal level, there will be no fundamental improvement in education, and the system will continue to deteriorate and fracture. For obvious reasons, such as keeping my job, I do not want to be publicly cited.”

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