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Friday, September 28, 2018

How will technology reshape the university by 2030? | Features - Times Higher Education

The digital tide will not wash away campus-based learning, believe most respondents to THE’s University Leaders Survey. David Matthews, reporter covering Europe, based in Berlin reports on what they see ahead for study options, scholarly conferences, scientific progress and more.

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“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
So reads a quote often attributed – quite possibly falsely – to W. B. Yeats. For Alain Fuchs, president of PSL Research University in Paris, the phrase is an apt reminder that although technology will certainly change universities, “lighting the fire” of learning is a “matter of human contacts” – meaning that the physical university, with its face-to-face teaching, still has a healthy future despite the wave of digital disruption.

Fuchs’ view is typical of the close to 200 institution leaders – all of them from the world’s top 1,000 universities – who took part in a Times Higher Education survey on the university in 2030. The questions concern a wide range of topics, the majority of which were covered in last week’s THE. In this feature, we focus on the role of technology in shaping universities’ future in the short to medium term.

On the whole, our respondents – who hail from 45 countries across six continents – are sceptical that digital learning will supplant face-to-face learning any time soon. Although 63 per cent believe that established and prestigious universities will be offering full degrees online by 2030, compared with just 19 per cent who do not, only 24 per cent believe that online degree courses will be more popular than campus-based ones by 2030, against 53 per cent who disagree. And only 19 per cent think that digital technology will have eradicated physical lectures by 2030, compared with 65 per cent who disagree...

While university leaders may well be right that students will continue to flock to physical campuses over the next decade, evidence that students learn best when in the same room as their lecturers is actually very scant.

Educational researchers Robert Bernard, Eugene Borokhovski and Richard Schmid work at the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University, Canada. 

“We know of no empirical evidence that says that classroom instruction benefits students (compared to alternatives) from a learning achievement perspective,” they tell THE.

One of their meta-analyses of the efficacy of classroom-based learning versus courses delivered wholly online found “no difference with regard to student achievement. This strong, evidence-based outcome ran counter to even educators’ widespread assumption that distance education must be inferior.”

In fact, they argue, “the medium matters far less than the quality of the pedagogy”. Universities need to “capture and challenge the imagination, based on the learners’ pre-existing knowledge. That is what works, whether it is in the classroom or online.”

Source: Times Higher Education