on January 25th, 2018

Online learning is continuously morphing as education industries try to find the best practice in educating and training students across the globe. With technologies enabling new methods of learning many brick-and-mortar institutions are losing traction.


Kevin Carey, an Ohio State University Masters graduate, published a book in 2015 named The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning. He believes that in the future, thanks to technological developments, the university will be everywhere and available to everyone. An excerpt of his book reads:

“These students will be educated in digital learning environments of unprecedented sophistication. The University of Everywhere will solve the basic problem that has bedeviled universities since they were first invented over a millennium ago: how to provide a personalized, individual education to large numbers of people at a reasonable price. The intense tutorial education that has historically been the province of kings and princes will be available to anyone in the world.”


Carey has a futuristic outlook. The reality, in the current day, is looking a little murkier. For some institutions online learning and on-campus learning are beginning to function in a more hand-in-hand fashion. Institutions are, for example, creating more value by delivering their online learning content on-campus as well.


Feel around in the dark

The questions of whether or not a fully online learning system could replace colleges and universities in the future have been lingering for many years. Even some of the top institutions who have incredibly efficient online platforms are still experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.


For example, Daphne Koller, the President and co-founder of Coursera - a world renowned online learning platform - answered the question on whether or not colleges would become obsolete on the Q&A website, Quora. She said:

“There will always be demand for face-to-face discussion with professors and peers, and for the other activities and services that universities provide to on-campus students. Technology can, however, replace some of the less personal, less specialized work that on-campus instructors are doing today - grading basic assignments, delivering big lectures, etc. At many Coursera partner institutions, professors are beginning to use their online courses to deliver some of this core content to their on-campus students.”


Koller calls it (what many in the industry are calling) the ‘flipped classroom’ or ‘blended learning’ approach to teaching university students; where much of the instructional content is provided to students outside of the classroom. She goes on to say:

“For some students, traditional higher education is simply cost-prohibitive; others may have existing careers, family commitments, or other responsibilities that prevent them from participating in a program full time; still others may have physical or mental disabilities that make learning in a classroom impossible.”


However, artificial intelligence, computing technology, augmented and virtual reality technologies, and more, may just present further challenges to keeping the doors open at some colleges and universities. Technology is transforming more quickly than most institutions can. Students’ ability to learn outside of the classroom/lecture hall is already a reality.


Carey explains the future of educational institutions will be defined by the personalization the institution can provide to the student. He writes:

“That personalization will be driven by advances in artificial intelligence and fueled by massive amounts of educational data. Information about student learning will be used to continually adapt and improve people’s educational experience based on their unique strengths, needs, flaws, and aspirations.”


Education institutions have to be nimble; they must keep a beady eye on the future, but still tip their caps to the past if they are to provide current students with meaningful learning experiences. And they must brace themselves for new technologies which are doggedly disrupting many industries including their own.

Works Cited

Carey, Kevin. The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere. Riverhead Books, 2016.

In 10-20 years, will traditional college education be obsolete?


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