Technology and the Imminent Disruption of Higher Education: Is Fear the Path to the Dark Side?

David Wheeler, Academica Forum, Jan 14, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good article from Cape Breton University president David Wheeler examining some of the major trends in university education today. Here's a quick summary (quoted from the article):

  • Gamification - enhancing emotional engagement with learning
  • Rewards - from points and badges to certificates and degrees
  • Adaptive learning - from artificial intelligence to tutoring
  • Simulations - from apprenticeships to virtual reality
  • Social learning - reproducing the classroom and peer support online

One of the strengths of Wheeler's article is that he clearly identifies the impact of the trend on learning and provides examples of companies or applications that are innovating in this space. He also links back to a Guardian article from a couple weeks ago citing studies which show clearly the idea that knowledge is a web of associations, and not like disk storage or memory tape. And his message has a hard edge: "If an institution cannot support flexible, high quality, and competitively-priced learning journeys for students of all ages and backgrounds, then another institution will, and it may be based anywhere from Arizona to New Zealand."

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