Your college experience may be a thing of the past. Scratch that. It already is a thing of the past. That’s because the typical college experience many of us know will soon be replaced with online lectures. This is according to Bill Gates, a college dropout who takes classes online to this day, who recently lit the education world and tech world on fire when he said the following:

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. “It will be better than any single university,” he continued.

Bill Gates speaks at Techonomy

Bill Gates speaks at Techonomy

Places like Oxford, Harvard, and every other brick-and-mortar school are not exactly planning on filing for bankruptcy. Instead, every school should take this announcement by Gates to heart and actually start making his claim a reality. MIT, Harvard Extension School, Stanford, and dozens of other schools are already incorporating online programs into actual degrees. Hundreds of other schools have already uploaded some of their most famous professors’ lectures to the Internet for all to enjoy.

Is this a marketing tactic by these schools? Or is it to help educate others not able to attend these types of lectures for another reason? The answer: a little of both.

Many prospective students would love to compare and contrast lectures in their chosen field before applying. Many current students need to view lectures from afar via the Internet for a variety of reasons. Many alumni simply want to continue their education or brush up on some past lectures.

This means all kinds of people are interested in online lectures. That translates to increased awareness of the school (marketing) but also the dissemination of knowledge to everyone without charging them tuition (helping others). So whatever a school’s reason may be, it’s important that they start building their online presence and enhancing the world of education so that, in 5 years, students can learn, interract, and even graduate from an esteemed school without having set foot on campus.

What does this mean for the future of brick-and-mortar school campuses? There will still be a need for them for many years but the clock is certainly ticking. What do you think? This is all just my opinion and I want to know what you think of Bill Gates’ statement. Weigh in down in the comments, on Socially Learning, or via Twitter (@edudemic)