How do we ‘future proof’ education?

IMG_0368There are two issues that relate to the future of universities that are on my mind at the moment that I think we, as academics and administrators, must address.

 

The first is the issue of educating students in a rapidly changing world. Knowledge is not linear but rather exponential and it has been argued that we live in ‘an age of data‘ where the amount of information doubles every two to five years.

 

This is an extraordinary concept and we must ask, how do we educate in this environment? How relevant will something that we teach a first year student today when they graduate in three or four years time?

 

The second concept relates to the credentials that universities issues: the monopoly universities have in issuing degrees. Given the rapidly changing environment, the question must be asked: If we lose our monopoly on issuing degrees, why should someone come to a university? What is it that we offer ‘beyond the degree’?

This is not as far fetched as it sounds given that the muted introduction of private providers and the way that organisations like Apple have become very focussed on delivering the education based products. Maybe a degree issues by Apple or Google is only around the corner.

 

One of way the university sector is responding is by building closer links to industry and the emergence of Work Integrated Learning (WIL). All good stuff but we must ensure that we not only prepare students to meet the needs for society today, but for the challenges and opportunities of the future also.

 

This is what can best be described as ‘future-proofing education’ – and it is something that has become a focus of mine – so watch this space.

 

As party of this work, I wrote an article for Campus Review on preparing for the jobs of tomorrow (which you can access here) – I have also republished a version here.

 

If you have trouble accessing either one, message me and I will send you a copy.

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