ICTpost Education Bureau
Productivity growth in IT-producing industries has steadily risen in importance, generating a relentless decline in the prices of IT equipment and software. This decline in IT prices is rooted in developments in technology that are widely understood by technologists and economists.
Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing.
But significant challenges also loom. For all of its benefits, technology remains a disruptive innovation—and an expensive one. Faculty members used to teaching in one way may be loath to invest the time to learn new methods, and may lack the budget for needed support. This paper examines the role of technology in shaping the future of higher education. The major findings are as follows:
Technology has had—and will continue to have—a significant impact on higher education. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents from both the public and private sectors say that technological innovation will have a major influence on teaching methodologies over the next five years. In fact, technology will become a core differentiator in attracting students and corporate partners.
Online learning is gaining a firm foothold in schools and universities around the world. More than two-thirds of respondents from academia say that their institutions offer online courses. Many of them, especially those with a public-service mandate, consider online learning key to advancing their mission, placing advanced education within reach of people who might otherwise not be able to access it.
Corporate-academic partnerships will form an increasing part of the experience, at a time
when locating funding and controlling costs are key concerns, and when only one-quarter of university
chief information officers (CIOs) have a place at the table when it comes to setting strategy. To attract
corporate partnerships, institutions will need to demonstrate a commitment to advanced technologies.
University respondents view technology as having a largely positive impact on their campuses, but acknowledge that operational challenges may hinder the full benefits from being realised (for example, tenure, promotions and other organisational practices may need adjustment to encourage faculty members to adopt new technologies). In addition, technology may be disruptive in ways not intended: respondents note a rise in student plagiarism, cheating and distractability, which they attribute to easy and ready access to mobile technologies.
Higher education is responding to globalisation. Respondents say that having an overseas presence will be the norm for the majority of universities over the coming years, and 54% of academic respondents say their institutions either already have foreign locations or plan to open them in the next three years. Distance education is also becoming increasingly global, with universities in the US
and overseas leveraging advanced technologies to put education within reach of many more individuals around the world.
This paper is prepared by Economist Intelligence Unit.