To be fair, it’s not that higher education leaders are unaware of the immense changes taking place even now.
For example, many were present at the recent World Government Summit in Dubai at which attendees heard how overwhelming technological change would eventually see the “fusing together of the physical, digital and biological realms”, a process already under way in the “fourth industrial revolution”, according to the chief of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab.
Some highly intelligent people are looking at this scenario and thinking seriously about how universities might deal with it – and how they could re-shape education to enable future students to deal with this brave (and maybe a little scary) new world.
One of these is Dr Peter Diamandis, head of “innovation engine” XPrize, chief of the Silicon Valley-based Singularity University, and who was recently named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
It would be “personalised”, education customised through Artificial Intelligence to the needs of the individual – where the teacher would know “exactly what interests them, and what their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses are.”
The best education, he added, would also be free “just as present day search engines have provided free access to information to anyone that seeks it”; lectures would be “on demand” delivered exactly when the student requires; and virtualised classroom sessions would promote teamwork and the social experience.
Diamandis said the purpose of future education would be to “help young people realise their dreams and ambitions by pushing them to learn more about things that truly interest them”:
“The true skills imparted through education would be the ability to express oneself, describe what one wants to know and leverage technology to find the solution.”
Some questions remain unanswered eg, – if education is to be free to the student, then who will pay for it? And we know that visions can be confused with delusions, but nevertheless history shows that aspirations can be turned into reality if the will and the means are there.
Whatever, with this kind of thinking the higher education sector is going to be nothing if not interesting.
Watch this space …