Recent advances have drastically changed the structures of vital institutions, including higher education. Textbooks, pencils, and paper are no longer required resources. Students can choose other learning methods besides the traditional classroom lecture.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
With that in mind, let’s explore how technology has changed higher education and what other changes to expect in the near future.
Just a few decades ago, computers were limited commodities that only the wealthy could afford. This technological gap put the less financially fortunate at a disadvantage from the start. Today, computers and other resources are distributed throughout the world, which means everyone can access online resources such as books, journals, videos, and audio recordings. We have knowledge at our fingertips at all times.
Technology has also opened numerous opportunities for fast communication between teachers and students. We can share information and opinions through emails, discussion boards, video conferences, and more. Social media platforms with limited content restrictions give us constant flows of information. One can argue whether unfiltered discussion is a good or bad thing for formal education, but it’s undeniably a necessity in a world that upholds freedom of speech.
With people from all walks of life sharing ideas, they can get exposure to prestigious universities that never would have heard of them without technology. As long as they have a computer and a capable instructor, any student from anywhere can pursue their dream profession or school.
Access to technology has allowed us to create new learning environments where intelligence and a genuine desire for truth beat any agenda. The classroom lecture is still the backbone of most universities, but even that environment has changed due to technology. Laptops have replaced notebooks. PDFs and other online resources have replaced textbooks. Teachers can use more than their lecture notes and a chalkboard to display information.
Online learning and other remote learning styles have also become more prevalent in recent years. Millions of students worldwide had to resume their studies from home due to COVID-19, and some have decided they prefer remote learning over in-person lectures. They can absorb information at their own pace and engage in discussions without time or word limits that classrooms inherently have.
These online environments can be more personable and affordable than attending school in person. Teachers and tutors can craft their lessons specifically for each student, and the student can focus on the task at hand without worrying about the costs of travel, lodging, and full-time tuition.
Technology enables students to attain a healthy school-life balance that would have been impossible with the global workforce’s increasingly high standards. Most industries require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and some internship/work experience to get an entry-level position, and technology makes those tasks more manageable.
People in their late teens and early 20s can enjoy themselves without letting schoolwork dominate their lives. Their education no longer has to be the expected four to six years. They can take as much time as necessary and choose between online and in-person classes without sacrificing their mental and physical health.
Technology has enabled everyone with a computer or phone to join discussions, which has caused curriculums to become more detailed and considerate of all viewpoints. We’re seeing a heightened sensitivity around topics like race and gender, and this new attitude stems from technology giving everyone a voice.
In old curriculum structures, one expert or moderator controlled the lesson while everyone else listened. Students could ask questions, but they didn’t have the means to find the answers without going through a higher authority. Technology has changed that. Students can challenge authority with the information they find from independent online sources, forcing educators to explain the logic behind their teachings.
Advanced technology has also allowed specific fields of study to expand. STEM programs can update their labs with new equipment. Graphic design and other computer-reliant fields have greater capabilities with more powerful computers. Economics courses have access to more accurate market data sets, allowing schools to adjust their lessons accordingly. These are just a few examples of how technology enables schools to replicate the real world.
Higher education will undergo more apparent changes as the world becomes more technologically advanced. For starters, we should expect online learning and homeschooling to become more prevalent. These environments provide much-needed alternatives for students who aren’t equipped for traditional school – financially, physically, emotionally, or for whatever reason.
The developed world will also come to see education as more of a right than a privilege. This attitude shift has already begun, with parents spending more money than ever to send their children to decent schools and give them the resources to succeed. Technology will enable families to pursue education without breaking the bank and allow them to focus on other responsibilities.
If public school intends to remain the most popular choice, parents will have a much bigger say in school curriculums. Some states have passed new legislation banning certain topics of discussion in response to outcries from parents. As technology changes, the precedent for these sensitive issues will change as well.
The structure and values of higher education have changed a lot in recent years. With technology giving more people (and thus more viewpoints) a level playing field, new attitudes, learning styles, and curriculums have emerged. These elements will continue to evolve along with technology, for better or worse. Keep up with the latest advancements to ensure you’re using the best resources available.
What do you think of higher education technology? Please share your thoughts on any of the social media pages listed below. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.