A Vision of the Future of Higher Education

Every new generation sees changes in the landscape of higher education, but the essential tenets have always remained the same. Students live in dorms or student apartments and go every day to sit in classrooms where they hear lectures from professors.

However, many things we used to take for granted about the college experience may be changing. In fact, the higher education of future generations may be unrecognizable to those of us who came of age in the 20th century.

Here are some of the changes that seem to be emerging.

Adaptive learning

We are already witnessing technologies that adapt to learner needs. These tools can track student progress, making learning far more personalized. Students will no longer have to adjust to the lecture styles of various instructors. Instead, their online teachers will easily adapt to them. As AI (Artificial Intelligence) becomes more advanced, technology will adapt even more intuitively, responding to physical gestures and facial expressions.

Changes in concepts of the classroom space

The increasing popularity of the flipped/blended classroom models foreshadows a reimagining of the classroom space as we know it. Universities will investigate more creative approaches to learning spaces, similar to the global microcampuses proposed recently by the University of Arizona. As devices become smaller, classrooms themselves may be equipped with “smart” functions, able to adjust to the students that enter them as well as to connect to a wide range of teaching materials from around the world.

Equity around the globe

Institutions of higher learning are taking on the mission of making education accessible to students from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have opened up a whole world to people that never could have considered a college education before. Although some issues of digital equity still remain, future generations will find educational opportunities increasingly available to the geographically remote and the economically disadvantaged, leveling the playing field to a greater degree than ever.


Technological advances have broken down walls, connecting students to real-world problem-solving and to leaders in their chosen field. Soon, possibilities for partnership between academia and the corporate world will surpass what anyone could have previously imagined. In addition, students and instructors will have the capacity to problem-solve together, resulting in deeper and more relevant learning experiences.

It seems clear that higher education of the future will turn our expectations upside down in many ways. It’s time to prepare to meet this brave new world.

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