The folks at EPIC2020 have posted a possible glimpse at the future of education [YouTube]. Via a 10-minute video, the video proposes that by the year 2020, most colleges and universities will no longer exist as we recognize them today. Rather, academia will no longer be the "gatekeeper" for education, and degrees become irrelevant. According to their timeline, future students may see these milestones:
The invention of the Khan Academy begins to educate the world through low-tech educational tutorials that de-emphasizes administration. Videos are available through YouTube for free. Students demonstrate mastery to move on to the next phase.
Mozilla's "open badges" project recognizes skills and achievements, where students can express mastery in different skills through badges instead of degrees. Also, 2011 sees the introduction of a massively open online course ("MOOC"), in Artificial Intelligence, which turns the classroom system upside down. The instructor teaches via prerecorded content, but outside this "classroom," students learn from other students. 23,000 students pass the course, many with perfect scores.
The year everything "began." Udacity is formed to offer online computer science courses, all for free. Udacity's model is to use world class talent from world class companies, with an inverted funding model. Also, MITx begins to offer online courses, and TED announces TEDed. The era of the MOOCs begins.
The student loan industry collapses. Across the country, students revolt against the high cost of education, looking for online education for free, paying only for the assessment. (We are seeing this today.)
Apple buys Amazon, merging Kindle ebooks and iTunesU that becomes a new online education platform. In response, Google buys Khan Academy and Udacity to become a huge presence in international online training and education.
Badges replace degrees as the preferred method to represent skill and mastery of concepts.
Residential colleges and universities become a destination only for the super-rich.
People have access to a huge breadth and depth of education, available online.
Is this likely? I don't know. I foresee many of the same trends, but I don't share the same conviction of some of their conclusions. And I doubt this will occur by 2020. Maybe by 2030, when today's university students become hiring managers ... today's generation may not place the same value on degrees if they expect to find classes online, either through straight-up "distance education" or via MOOCs. By that time, future hiring managers may accept "badges" and certificates in place of traditional degrees. But we'll have to wait to see.