Higher Education's Digital Future
Concurrent Session 9
This presentation will be based on my new book entitled, "Online Education Policy and Practice: The Past, Present, and Future of the Digital University" (Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 2017). This presentation will focus on the near future (2020s) and more distant futre (2030s and beyond).
The extended abstract is as follows;
In this session, I intend to focus almost entirely on the future of online education in the short range (2020s) and the long range (2030s). In the short range, online education will have matured and Internet technology will be integrated into the vast majority of college instruction. A wide variety of delivery designs, some fully online and some blended will be the rule throughout higher education. Students will come to expect that every course will have online components. Fully online programs will be as common as face-to-face programs. During this period, policymakers will question the need for faculty as teachers. Faculty will be seen more as designers and supervisors of courses.
My long-range predictions are more provocative and include examinations of possible new digital technologies that will have major impact on most human endeavors including higher education in the year 2030 and beyond. Predicting what will happen in the future is difficult; timing in particular is very speculative. The work of futurist Ray Kurzweil is featured with regard to the singularity, when man-machine technology will begin to outperform human brain functions and will begin to repair and replicate itself. While there are skeptics, it is likely that technologies augmenting the human brain will evolve. Neural implants, intelligent self-generating nanobots, and brainnets are likely to become realities in the post 2030 time-frame. Many of these technologies will rely on supercloud computer networks far more advanced than the cloud computing of the present day. Artificial intelligence will dominate much of the man-machine interface technologies and concerns will arise about the loss of control over humanity’s future.
The presentation will conclude with a brief caution calling for higher education to change and adapt, to use technologies that are beneficial, and to question those that are not. But most important do not ignore them.