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These 3 Trends are Shaping the Future of Higher Education: What Do They Mean For You?
Higher education is undergoing a rapid transformation, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic acting as a catalyst. So, what’s in store for the future of higher education, and what will the role of online education be in the changing learning landscape? Finally, what does all of this mean for your own lifelong learning journey?
The traditional setup of the higher education system has been under scrutiny for some time now. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), micro-credentials, skills-based training and online classes have all risen in popularity, challenging the typical modes of university education. These trends have been accelerated due to the coronavirus pandemic, affecting the way we view and implement higher education.
Coronavirus Fast-Tracking Education Trends
Emerging trends in the education sector have been fast-tracked by the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of students around the world shifting from face-to-face classes to an online learning environment almost overnight.
Higher education institutions have also had to adapt to the rapid change, while existing online education platforms have been able to cater to the growing population of working professionals looking to upskill amid the pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison even noted that the pandemic offered an opportunity for “training, skills development, investment”, when referring to employer-led online training programs.
The notion of training to fulfil a specific role is also being challenged, with the focus shifting to “critical skills” instead. This means that workers are looking to learn in-demand skills that lead to multiple opportunities, rather than train for one specific role.
In this transformative period, we should expect the structure and implementation of higher education to change, with a greater focus on lifelong learning, flexible learning options and module-based courses.
The Future of Higher Education: Challenges And Benefits
The educational landscape is being shaped by three notable approaches to learning, which will inform the way your education is designed and delivered in the future. The three characteristics of the future of learning are:
In the past, it was typical to think of a university or TAFE education as the final scholastic hurdle. Due to the pandemic, however, Gen Z has found themselves facing an uncertain future, with many deferring or changing their study plans. This has led to an uptick in further education, particularly through the accessible medium of online courses. Employers and students alike are beginning to appreciate lifelong learning as a way to make yourself more employable and adaptable in the wake of workforce disruptions.
Because lifelong learning is becoming more popular, the methods of learning also need to become flexible. This makes digital learning the perfect format for further education, as it allows students to study from anywhere and according to their own schedule.
Many of the online courses available today are module-based, meaning you can hone in on the precise skillset you’re looking to develop. This allows working professionals to add complementary skills to the ones they’ve already developed on the job. We can see a great deal of innovation and adaptation in this area, with Google now creating online courses that are designed to replace degrees. These certificates can be completed in 3-6 months, and Google says they will recognise their certificates as equivalent to a four-year college education when assessing job applications.
What Does This Mean For You?
With future learning being lifelong, more flexible and increasingly module-based, your study and career outlook is also likely to evolve. Here’s what all of this might look like in the future:
- The shift to lifelong learning means you have the freedom to rework your study timeline. Instead of completing your high school education and then studying for 2-3 years, you can now spread out your learning throughout your life. Perhaps you want to pick up some work experience and then see what further education you need. Or maybe you finished your university degree a few years ago and feel like you need to update your skills. Your lifelong learning journey is now in your hands.
- The fact that learning is now becoming more flexible is also a fantastic perk for students of all ages and situations. Develop your side hustle while working full-time, pick up new skills while on maternity leave, or fill in knowledge gaps while studying full-time – there are now fewer barriers to accessing education, giving you the flexibility you need to keep kicking goals.
- You will have the ability to customise your own learning. Ever feel like a course you studied included a lot of information you already knew? Module-based learning offers a workaround, as you can choose the modules that are most valuable to you and bypass the ones that cover introductory information.
The evolution of the higher education system has been fast-forwarded by the COVID-19 pandemic, with lifelong learning, flexibility and module-based learning fast becoming the norm. This means that your learning journey is now more personal and dynamic than ever before.
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