Education technology is still at its earliest stages and has yet to live up to its promise, philanthropist Bill Gates told an audience of thousands of ed-tech entrepreneurs and investors at the ASU GSV Summit here. “We really haven’t changed [students’ academic] outcomes,” he acknowledged. But over the next decade, Gates predicted that the industry could move to a new level of quality as ed-tech providers begin to understand student and teacher needs. “We can surprise people by really making education better—both here in the United States and around the world,” he said.
For one thing, research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it's so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture. And a study has shown that the fact that you have to be slower when you take notes by hand is what makes it more useful in the long run.
Open and distance learning (ODL) universities must determine their “competitive advantage” rather than “parroting” that their value lies in convenience and flexibility, the director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education has claimed.
Despite the growing number of virtual students, many academics still believe outcomes for online education are inferior to those of face-to-face instruction, according to Babson Survey Research Group’s most recent annual report, Online Report Card – Tracking Online Education in the United States. In my experience, the opposite is true. Many who doubt the effectiveness of virtual classrooms have not been exposed to thoughtfully designed, rigorous courses that use technology purposefully to engage students and achieve better learning outcomes.
Ten years from now, we will be wearing our devices and experiencing the world around us through a variety of other technologies. We will be talking simply about learning—an immersive experience that is not necessarily live and not necessarily tethered to a physical classroom space. It may not be a wholly online environment, either. The label “online” will fade from existence.
States have been slashing funding for higher education over the past decade, and cuts got deeper during the Great Recession. State budgets for public universities have been cut about 20% since 2008, according to the report. Since 1986, funding for prisons has spiked 141%.
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