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Mike Zitz's op-ed column on the future of college education in America.
Germanna Community College also provides practical workforce education in such areas as automotive training.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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SOME GOOD may have come out of the August 2011 earthquake that put Germanna Community College's largest building out of commission till January 2012.
Losing space for 321 classes created a slingshot effect that accelerated GCC's progress toward what may be the future of higher education. The college increased its capability to offer the option of "hybrid" classes sooner than it would have otherwise. Hybrid classes combine the convenience of online "distance learning" with the personal touch of classroom learning.
Some chafe at the idea of reducing face time between faculty and students. But the technology exists to make online classes increasingly interactive. And our area and our nation's future depend on college degrees and workforce training being affordable and accessible to more students.
Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center's recent Internet & American Life Project and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center asked more than 1,000 experts and stakeholders which of two possible scenarios for higher education in 2020 they believe is most likely to come to fruition.
Thirty-nine percent foresaw change by the end of the decade, but nothing radical:
In 2020, higher education will not be much different from the way it is today. While people will be accessing more resources in classrooms through the use of large screens, teleconferencing, and personal wireless smart devices, most institutions will require in-person, on-campus attendance of students most of the time at courses featuring a lot of traditional lectures. Most institutions' assessment of learning and their requirements for graduation will be about the same as they are now.
Sixty percent thought there would be major changes:
By 2020, higher education will be quite different from the way it is today. There will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources. Significant numbers of learning activities will move to individualized, just-in-time learning approaches. There will be a transition to "hybrid" classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings. Most institutions' assessment of learning will take into account more individually oriented outcomes and capacities that are relevant to subject mastery. Requirements for graduation will be significantly shifted to customized outcomes.
ALL SHOOK UP: 'HYBRID' CLASSES, PERSONAL TOUCH AT GERMANNA
Michael Zitz is Germanna Community College's director of media and community relations.