The future of residential universities in America is a hotly debated topic right now. Many are asking what higher education could, and should, look like 20, 30, or 50 years from now.

Trying to predict events decades before they unfold may be a fool’s errand, but there is good reason to create an informed forecast. An inspiring vision of the future can be the fuel needed to drive change in the present.

Here are some humble predictions about what may lie ahead for higher education institutions.

The Return of Experiential Education

Experiential education — learning that takes place beyond a traditional classroom environment — is by no means a new idea. Field research, internships, study abroad and similar opportunities are already very popular at many universities. However, higher education experts expect these experiential, hands-on opportunities to play an even bigger role at the university level in the coming decades.

Learning outside of the classroom is treated as an “add-on” by the vast majority of institutions today. In the near future, experiential education will be deeply woven into the standard curriculum and seen as an essential part of the higher learning experience.

Technology-Driven Education

Today, a class labeled as “technology-enhanced” may utilize nothing more than some podcast lectures, multimedia presentations, computer-based drills, and some video clips. Compared to what is around the corner, that’s a very superficial investment in technology.

The next generation of technology-enhanced classes will feature virtual laboratories and interactive simulations that create a deeply immersive environment for learning. Students of the future will conduct virtual experiments, explore historical sites right from their classrooms, and dig deep into interactive case studies.

Personalized Learning

As the digital economy evolves, it becomes ever more clear that personalization is one of its defining features. Many believe that personalized learning will be a factor that shapes higher education.

The change would be severe. Currently, education models are term-based and course-based. Students are all expected to learn at the same pace.

With access to relevant personal and learning histories, universities will be able to provide students with customized learning pathways. New, data-driven assessment models will allow institutions assess each student’s progress according to their unique expectations and goals.

Is Your Institution Ready For The Future?

The Change Leader works organizations whose bottom line goes beyond making money. We help educational institutions design, implement, and curry support for innovative new curricula and initiatives, providing everything from change management to leadership development to curriculum development to team-building and accreditation preparation. To learn more, please visit our homepage today.