Experts expect more-efficient collaborative environments and new grading schemes; they worry about massive online courses, the shift away from on-campus life. Tech experts believe market factors will push universities to expand online courses, create hybrid learning spaces, move toward ‘lifelong learning’ models and different credentialing structures by the year 2020. But they disagree about how these whirlwind forces will influence education, for the better or the worse. For a millennium, universities have been considered the main societal hub for knowledge and learning. And for a millennium, the basic structures of how universities produce and disseminate knowledge and evaluate students have survived intact through the sweeping societal changes created by technology – the moveable-type printing press, the Industrial Revolution, the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and computers. Today, though, the business of higher education seems to some as susceptible to tech disruption as other information-centric industries such as the news media, magazines and journals, encyclopedias, music, motion pictures, and television. The transmission of knowledge need no longer be tethered to a college campus. The technical affordances of cloud-based computing, digital textbooks, mobile connectivity, high-quality streaming video, and “just-in-time” information gathering have pushed vast amounts of knowledge to the “placeless” Web. This has sparked a robust re-examination of the modern university’s mission and its role within a networked society.
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