Will the Higher Education Industry Undergo the Same Transformation As the Publishing Industry Did?

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The publishing industry has undergone a dramatic change since the advent of the internet; traditional print newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal no longer dominate the news industry, as blogs and online magazines become more popular, professional, and accessible.

In an Edsurge opinion article, Nick Gidwani, founder of SkilledUp, points out that the Higher Education industry seems to be following the same pattern. Just as the advent of technology allowed many people to publish articles in a cheaper, easier, and faster way, technological advances are also allowing people to deliver education en masse in a way that is faster, more efficient, and more economical then the traditional system of face-to-face education.

In short, technological advances have eliminated the market’s primary barriers to entry.

So if the higher ed industry follows the same pattern as the publishing industry, what can we expect?

Gidwani explains that “much like there is little need for 40 national newspapers writing near-identical stories, there is also little need for 200 professors all delivering the same Biology 101 lectures.” Since almost anyone can now create and distribute their own online courses, Gidwani believes that MOOCs will act as “gatekeepers” to ensure that only the best professors and best courses will be prevail. In order for a course to survive, it will need to be highly entertaining, engaging, and be run by a professor with solid credentials. You can’t just get away with teaching a regular dry course any more because there will always be online courses out there that teach it better than you do.

To better create engaging and interactive lessons, Gidwani predicts that society will continue to develop new tools for creating educational content.

Furthermore, Gidwani believes that society will give rise to “Alternative Professors” who will devise innovative teaching and learning strategies. Their courses will become popular and dominate the educational playing field. Amateur teachers will then rise to the occasion, filling in the gaps of whatever courses have not yet been developed.

The good news is that this transformation of the higher ed industry will create a more dynamic education system that can adapt to teach whatever people need to know for their job responsibilities (which is constantly changing due to technology). Additionally, students from all backgrounds will have equal access to education because education will be cheaper.

On the downside, with online education on the rise, students will lose the “holistic experience” that can be gained only from an on-campus experience. Furthermore, Gidwani predicts that academic research may suffer, and the best universities will be forced to “narrow their scope to only what they do best, as innovation in the long tail will pull the best talent in emerging fields away from them.”

What do you think? Will the higher ed industry follow the same pattern as the publishing industry? Is this transformation for the better or for the worse?

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