The educational system in the knowledge society of the future will focus on developing digital economy structures and creating the new middle class. Students in that society will get educated through lifelong learning, job-specific courses and various innovative formats. Universities will become the intellectual vanguard of the technological revolution, but they will also face the risk of being replaced by online education providers.
As many developed countries are witnessing the emergence of knowledge societies, the university is taking on the role of the intellectual leader in the digital revolution. The university is becoming a breeding ground for innovation and a home to a new type of community – the intellectual space.
The growing digital economy transforms universities into technological clusters (zones of innovation) – Silicon Valley, Stanford University, Skolkovo and its Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech).
These places are designed for project-based education and practical research with access to a huge body of information.
The new environment around universities will foster a new kind of consumer – one that will contribute to the strive for innovation. These conditions will perpetuate the cycle of innovation.
The campuses of these innovation zones serve as models for new urban units, and those who live there and contribute to research are becoming the pioneers at the frontier of a new type of consumption. The highly-skilled middle class gets a blueprint for charting a new way of life.
However, the next decade is expected to bring a new tide of globalisation and massification of education, which will change the role of universities.
Technological progress will usher in less expensive education with no language barrier. This will make universities that are part of the digital economy not only the centre of the innovation clusters, but also the online educational facilities with a massive reach.
As early as in 2030, the flipped university model may become the norm, with teaching done through massive open online course (MOOC) platforms such as edX, Coursera, etc., while the universities themselves will only feature laboratory classes, study projects and live discussions.
Development of the digital economy will result in less government involvement in education. Its role will be relegated to creating fertile ground for new education providers that are competitive both domestically and globally.
The rapid changes in information and technology will necessitate permanent education.
Higher life expectancy will give rise to a new period of active education in people’s lives, as retirees will require retraining to remain on the labour market.
Individual approach will form the foundation of the educational process as students create their own curriculum. Traditional diplomas will be replaced by individual competency profiles.
Traditional educational formats will be gradually phased out by new ones.
The teacher as a “rebroadcaster” of knowledge will become redundant, while mentors responsible for student incentivisation, skill transfer and coaching will stay relevant.
Theoretical lessons will give way to hands-on projects and internship.
Text modes of transmitting information will gradually disappear and be replaced by videos, stimulation systems and digital simulators. In the future, multi-user virtual gaming environments will gain prominence in the education of children, young adults and grown-ups alike.
Education of the future will also reduce the distance between the employer and the employee, and the educational services market will become more flexible and self-regulated.
Large corporations will be able to bypass the government and commission certain professions and competences.
Organisations that are focused on collective thinking and team building will have the opportunity to enter the education market and offer specialised courses.
Those in possession of new interactive education technologies will be able to unite into professional communities and form “community universities” with their own educational standards and methods. In time, these structures may come to rival traditional universities and even replace them in 25–30 years.
The future education model will need to be supported by a highly advanced technological infrastructure.
Educators will create and continuously update databases using Big Data solutions.
People will see the birth of online educational marketplaces for groups and individuals, as well as shopping platforms offering educational content.
Mass testing to determine the general level of knowledge will slowly fall by the wayside and be replaced by online assessment and certification systems, which will provide an external confirmation of the respective competencies and skills.