By the year 2020, the college experience could be drastically different.
One potential change is a move toward distance learning.
“What you may see is, perhaps some redistribution of the types of courses they’re taking. Maybe fewer face-to-face, some classes where they have to log in online, while they’re living at wherever the campus is located,” said Robert Toutkoushian, professor of higher education at the University.
In a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project of 1,021 Internet experts and users, 60 percent agreed with a statement saying that by 2020 “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources ... a transition to ‘hybrid’ classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings.”
Although distance learning could become more prominent in the next 10 years, the college experience will still be similar to today.
“I think there are going to be some changes along the lines of what they were saying, but overall my impression is that probably higher education for your typical recent high school graduate is going to look very similar in 2020 to what it looks like today,” Toutkoushian said.
Distance learning could make its way to campuses, but Toutkoushian said he believes there may be a greater effect on non-traditional students.
“Where you may see distance education have more of an impact is on your non-traditional students. The people who have gone to college and coming back to go to college, or maybe they’re older and they’re working full-time and they’re trying to get a degree on the side, those types of things. So for them, convenience is going to be more important for a degree, and having an opportunity to take classes when they want online could be a big advantage,” Toutkoushian said.
One reason some experts, including 39 percent of those polled in the Pew survey, believe higher education will change very little is the role of higher education in a student’s life. Though getting a quality education is crucial, the social aspect of college could keep the system in place.
“What you may see is more of mixture of delivery being done,” Toutkoushian said. “A lot of your traditional students, they come out of high school, they get their high school diploma, they want to go off to a college in residential setting, live on campus for four, five, six years, how ever long it takes to get their degree.”
Though it appears that students will still have to attend class in 2020, the University will still make moves to advance education and adopt new trends.
“If you think of all higher education broadly, I’m sure there will be change across the various sectors,” said Libby Morris, director of the University’s Institute of Higher Education. “And so, I think we’ll continue to make incremental changes in the way we do instruction, and research and service outreach.”
And higher education will continue to go further online.
“The University of Georgia is starting to ramp up a bit on online learning, and we have some graduate programs that are online now,” Morris said. “We have some other courses that are online, and so over the next few years and into the future, we’re going to add more online courses.”