For well over a hundred years, various futurists have given us vivid illustrations of what the future of a technologically enhanced education will look like. One of the earliest of these illustrations is Jean-Marc Côté’s depiction of the 21st century classroom, At School, displayed as a part of the 1900 Paris World Exhibition. Although his depiction is a bit cheeky—no one seriously thought that books would be fed into a hopper that would somehow magically transmit the information to students via headphones—it does speak to this emergent belief that the future of education will somehow leverage technology for mass education.
A little over two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its long-awaited and much anticipated financial aid audit of Western Governors University (WGU). Since then, there have been a number of great discussions of the report as well as its potential impact on higher education. Today, in the third post of our series on the audit, we are going to take a trip down memory lane and revisit a post that we wrote last year that reviewed all of the available information at that time on “regular and substantive interaction,” the issue at the heart of both the audit findings and the source of much discussion among online educators.
Our world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. In 1997 the internet was still in its infancy with only around 119 million users. Distance education – a concept that began in Sweden during the mid-19th century – was only beginning to transition from analog to digital delivery. Today, we live in a much different world where the Internet has not only radically transformed the way colleges and universities teach, but has greatly expanded access to education around the globe. At Blackboard, we are proud to be a part of this journey.
Today we released Future Forward: The Next Twenty Years of Higher Education, a series of interviews with American higher education leaders. We asked this group of leaders to reflect on the last 20 years of higher education as well as consider what the next 20 years might hold. Forecasting the future is always a difficult affair, especially in this age of rapidly changing technology. Across the interviews, however, we heard several themes emerge time and again.