The University: Education´s digital future
As the so-called "MOOCs wave" of 2013-2014 illustrated amply, the future of the university is both an unclear and a quite clear picture: The clear part is that society will continue to have them, engage in their growth and understand them as increasingly important to the future of competition in a world of increasingly knowledge-based competition. The unclear part is how. As the MOOCs phenomenon shows, education as we know it, with degrees and grades, may become more obsolete -- and faster -- than we realize. On the other hand, bets are on that the opposite will happen – that degree-giving universities and university colleges will continue to offer degrees and degree-giving courses, with a more pervasive globally extended education network complex.
Platforms for delivering global lectures of the highest quality, exist. They are easy to find, for a growing number of students. And yet, production entails costs, just like competition entails profile. Disruption of higher education may come in forms identical to dramatic changes in the music industry, the film industry, culture and entertainment. A key to those disruptions is the change in financial flows and economic foundations. What separates education and learning from those other aspects of the cultural sphere, is the role of states and public funding.
However one understands MOOCs, and various online platforms that tailor courses to more defined needs within existing universities, the future is online and it is digital. Transforming higher education to new digital standards, modes, and formats has been under way a long time.
And yet: As an aspect of society´s digital transformation it has barely begun. The Future Learning Lab engages in project building from the perspective that futures, rooted in pasts, can be studied and made a theme for social science inquiry, technological innovation, and exploration of emergent learning/teaching approaches within media-rich environments. Learning Labs is one of those. Immersive, virtual learning spaces, like games, game engines, and various simulations -- represent other aspects of approaching the future of education.