As I met this week with leaders from the world’s largest technology organizations at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, including Google, Samsung, Verizon, Microsoft, LG and Intel, it is clear that the higher education industry will be radically transformed over the next five years.
This transformation will not come from within the education industry, nor from government regulators or accrediting agencies, but from a generation of students that have grown-up mobile and are now entering the workforce. They are creating game changing solutions, many of which I experienced first hand this week, that will be incredibly popular with students and teachers under 30. Their adaption of these new education solutions will completely bypass the traditional decision making and procurement processes of colleges and school districts around the world.
As an educator I see it all around my classroom already… Youtube, Wikipedia, Kahn Academy, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, 4G LTE, Coursera, over a million apps for Apple, Android, and Microsoft devices, and of course the disruptive beauty of Google.
All of human knowledge is available instantly to anyone with a mobile device, but we still run our education systems as if this was not the case. Memorization of facts, figures and formulas for the primary purpose of performing well on a standardized test is the absolute norm in education today.
We treat each student as if they were in a bubble, test them from within that bubble and prevent them from collaborating with their peers and accessing the data that will always be instantly available to them outside their imaginary education bubble. Then we measure their intelligence by how they fill out bubbles on a standardized test as if this is an accurate measure of intelligence. It is singularly an accurate measure of how well their teachers teach to the test.
Standardization has taken over education. A one size fits all approach that is damaging our nation in ways that have the potential to shake our nation to its core. Historians will look back on this time and document that our most important industry as a society, the education industry, was the last industry to embrace meaningful technological reform.
The sliver lining here is that this reform is going to happen, but it will happen to the education industry, not come from within the industry, government regulators or accreditors.
Much like the automotive industry of the early ‘70s, the music industry of the last decade, or the publishing and advertising industries of today, radical changes are going to completely transform education within the next five years.
And this brings me to Dr. Summers and his predictions from CES this week.
Just a little about his background if you’ve not met him. Dr. Summers is currently a Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he previously served as President Obama’s Director of the White House National Economic Council, President of Harvard University, Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and Chief Economist of the World Bank.
Dr. Summers predicted five things he believes will radically transform education.
- The boundaries between school and work will be far less sharp than they are today.
- The material students use to study will be completely different than what is used today.
- Instructional material will be developed which will involve much greater economies of scale, much larger audiences, and much more personalization.
- Education will be a more varied ecology. There will be much larger institutions than are the norm today, with significantly greater personalization, with many smaller niche education institutions than today.
- Progress in technology and brain science will lead to abundantly more personalization to how individuals learn and preparation of lessons for the way each individual learns best.
The attendees at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show will be the ones that create and embrace these innovations, in many respects they already have.
The students and teachers under 30 are already embracing these solutions, going around the traditional bureaucracy in education, they are creating the future of learning.