The amount of knowledge and information that must be taught to the leaders of tomorrow is expanding at a tremendous rate. The high school graduating class of 2008 will be exposed to more new information in one year than their grandparents were in a lifetime. Memorizing facts will have a much lower value, while utilizing information for analysis and decision making will be a critical skill for educational and professional advancement.
The typical worker will have many distinct careers in his or her lifetime. Each of these career paths or changes will require the attainment and practice of new knowledge, skills, and competencies. Lifelong learning will be something any individual must do to remain competitive. Students will be expected to have an ability to conduct research, analyze data, adapt to changes, etc. In this way, both full time university students and part time working students may need a wider array of options in order to complete their studies. Enter distance learning. Its flexibility, accessibility, and program diversity meet many of the educational needs of a wide range of individuals, making learning more meaningful, effective, and practical.
The world is shrinking rapidly. The Internet has brought the world together in ways that nobody could have expected. You can now attend a college halfway around the world with classmates living in any country. International education will likely gain in popularity and enrollment as demand from students increases. Travel costs, bureaucracy, and cultural barriers will impact international study less and less.
The skills that distance learning will impact upon students will continue to increase in demand; skills such as an ability to learn, to adapt quickly, to communicate across a neutral medium, to analyze data, to utilize technology, an ability to conduct research, and, of course, the ability to work independently without compromising productivity.
Colleges, universities, and schools of the future will utilize technologies far more advanced than those of today. (Consider the complexity of technology today, some of which would have been inconceivable only thirty years ago.) Learning to use the new technology will be essential to navigating modern life and advancing professionally.
In order to meet the needs of the changing world noted above, future learning must be:
Organizations that deliver distance learning will need to consider these issues and more:
As a result of all of those factors, we may see some of the following predictions come true in the next decade.
Corporations will compete directly with colleges and K-12 schools, as has already begun to happen with charter schools.