The future of education, particularly business education is something that concerns people everywhere. Many people are raising questions about just exactly what the kids of tomorrow will be taught. One such person is Anant Agarwal. Writing for Forumblog.org (2014) Agarwal points out that what we decide to teach children will have a considerable impact on all aspects of society including areas as diverse as financial services, technology and health. People need to get involved in the debate so that our future can be shaped in the way that we want it to be. Agarwal believes there are a number of major factors that will impact on the future of education. Each of these is now outlined in greater detail.
Technology, as one might expect is considered to be likely to have a very large role to play in shaping the future of education. Agarwal suggests that one of the major factors is the development of Massive Open Online Courses, otherwise known as MOOCs that enable the bringing of education to the masses. This opens up a greater range of education options to people regardless of their background, argues Agarwal, himself a professor who is the CEO of edX. edX is the MOOC that was set up by Harvard and MIT. MOOCs are beneficial because they are flexible and open source. Agarwal believes that in the future:
“You could go to university having done the first year of content online. You could then come and have the campus experience.”
The benefit of MOOCs is not limited to an increased number of subjects to study. As Agarwal highlights, the technological developments allow education to be “virtualised on a mass scale”, allowing low-cost learning to be delivered to countries in Africa and Asia. Agarwal hopes that such MOOCs remain non-profit ventures so that call can benefit in the future.
However, not everyone agrees, and Professor Tan Chorh Chuan of the National University of Singapore argues that while MOOCs are largely beneficial there is a challenge in that the “heterogeneous nature of education” is not necessarily accounted for, especially in developing nations. Tan suggests that this could be a negative situation for local education institutions. It is suggested that the best way to address these types of challenges is to adopt a “symbiotic approach” where MOOC providers work directly with universities in Africa or Asia to make sure that learning materials are suitably set in context.
The unification of standards is a subject debated at the highest echelons of the education system. Some believe that if there is globalisation of education then there should equally be a global set of standards. Again, Tan disagrees, and is of the opinion that diversity will be compromised by taking such an approach. Differentiation, he argues is better to be able to equip people in different countries with what they need from their education. Additionally he points out that a standardised approach could create problems with having a sufficient level of experimentation for developing new ways of providing education and understanding learning.
A New Type of Polytechnic
Another educator, Dr Shirley Ann Jackson, President of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute argues that a new model is needed, says Agarwal. This is proposed to be the idea of the “New Polytechnic. This would be an approach where governments, businesses and universities would work together more collaboratively to use technology and networking to drive education forwards. The new way needs to consider data, according to Jackson. The New Polytechnic would take a cross-discipline, cross-sector and cross-regional approach to education and its corresponding data. Jackson questions how accessibility will be gained to education by the 60% of the world that is not online (Agarwal, 2014).
Commoditization is a factor that also needs to be considered in education’s future. Agarwal points out that while technology has indeed made education more accessible, there is still the need for education to get access to funding. There are suggestions from some educators that universities could potentially disappear altogether, with individuals going into the workplace and getting training when they need it via informal means to deal with their educational needs. However, it seems very unlike that universities will be abolished – rather Agarwal suggests that some students will choose the alternative approach outlined instead.
Some, including Jackson argue for a sense of balance and not getting too carried away. After all, the technology that exists is considered to be unlikely to replace the concept of students in classrooms, at least in the short to medium term as socialisation is also an important aspect of the education system. Nonetheless there are most certainly great changes afoot, and deciding the direction to take is a very necessary step.
The next video, a little documentary on the future of education,education innovators like Dr. Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at MIT; Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean of Education at UCSF share their thoughts on what education will be in a recent future:
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.