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Future of higher education

What does the future of higher education look like? According to Moses Motha, Teaching and Learning Manager at Rosebank College, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education: "The future of higher education is intricately intertwined with the use of technology and online learning."

Utilising technology in teaching

Technology will be used to integrate teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom. This technology will be used to engage students by making lectures more interactive, while at the same time allowing lecturers to keep track of whether students understand the material. Technology will also help instructors offer a wide range of learning opportunities and types of information for students.

Virtual learning

Through virtual learning, learning can take place anytime, anywhere. Students will be able to access a "virtual" space as an extension of their physical classroom. Examples of virtual learning environments include Moodle, WebCT and Blackboard.

When looking at the current higher education landscape, we see many higher education institutions have already started to implement the Blackboard system, or other learner management system, where students engage with content online. Specifically referring to universities such as the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria - these institutions have taken on Blackboard as one of the ways in which they are mediating content to their students.

Lectures of the future

But if everything goes online, how do we regulate the quality of education offered? Motha believes there will always be space for face-to-face time between student and lecturers. For example, Rosebank College is gradually moving towards increasing the number of online activities.

"Obviously, one cannot replace a lecturer, as there will be times when there needs to be face-to-face sessions, the moderation of scripts, the recording and capturing of marks, so one cannot simply say online technology is going to eliminate the human element in the whole online tertiary education landscape."

Lectures, however, will have to be technologically advanced, and this does present a threat to educators who prefer traditional learning methods. Educators of the future will have to advance their technological skills in order for them to become innovators of that sector.

Self-driven learning

Higher education institutions of the future will rely on students to take learning into their own hands. Traditionally, students were led by the nose - where the teacher would take the lead, but through online learning and the use of technology, educators are leveraging the students' ability to take their own learning into their own hands. Motha believes: "It is just a question of ensuring that students have good wind beneath their wings in order for them to be able to fly."

More private education institutions

With such high demand for quality education, it is very likely that more private higher education institutions will be established. In South Africa, we currently have public tertiary institutions enrolling the majority of students, but in the UK and US, for example, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of private tertiary institutions. The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is an example of an accredited private higher education provider that is serving as a viable alternative to the already populated public system in South Africa.

Love it or hate it, welcome it or fear it, technology has a large role in the future of higher education, and the sooner tertiary institutions welcome this, the better. Doing things differently, questioning the traditional methods of teaching and learning, and accommodating growing numbers - this is the time for profound change in higher education.

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997 (reg. no. 2007/HE07/002). Company registration number: 1987/004754/07.

Written by Karabo Keepile