This vision for the future of HE has been created by experts at Note Taking Express for the learning and teaching reimagined initiative. It's not what we think the future of higher education will - or even should - look like, but just one possible scenario to inspire (possibly scare) and provoke discussion.
This content represents an imagined scenario and is set in the future
That was then…
2020 was a strange year as COVID-19 took hold. As part of the new student cohort we had to make a decision as to whether we still wanted to take up our university course or not. Going travelling for a year was not an option, and getting a job was well nigh impossible.
We thought it was the end of the world cooped up with ageing parents, nowhere to go and nothing to do except Zoom, Facebook and Skype calls with friends. It was so sanitised, lacked colour and engagement and I began to have serious mental health issues.
The pains of online lectures
When uni did start it was a bit of an anti-climax – no legendary freshers parties, just endless hours of Zoom lectures and tutorials sitting in my bedroom at home. I had no mates to go drinking with, no girls to go out with, it was totally sterile.
I used to switch off video and go and play games on my PlayStation. Nobody missed me – I just created an image of me sitting at my desk looking attentive and put it as the background to the screen. Nobody ever asked a question, and although there were a few polls we didn’t get penalised for not participating. I even heard one or two people doing other people’s exams and no-one was any the wiser!
I craved human company, interaction and feedback from peers and lecturers.
This is now…
Ten years on I am a lecturer and marvel at the changes that have been made using technology that was either in its infancy back in my student days or was shunned by academics and students alike.
There was a fear of using technology in 2020, but now we have understood what we need to become better teachers we can dictate and shape what technology we want.
Accessible and interactive learning
We now use video lectures for remote learners which are accessible and interactive. Artificial intelligence has come a long way and we can now create personalised notes for students which match their learning styles.
Not only that but we get information on whether a student is on the right track based on their own notes and essays. The system automatically makes learning suggestions for the student and we have systems in place to measure the learning outcome improvement. This really helps student retention.
The biggest challenge was perhaps some of the more physical subjects, the sciences and sports related practical subjects.
We now use blended solutions using virtual reality rooms, specific engagement tools and sensors to create the connections we need directly to the student. I have even heard some institutions are now using blockchain to create personal learning wallets for students – rather like the old NHS personal medical profile, but with complete security and validity.
The new shape of campus
We also have far fewer university buildings. COVID-19 forced many universities to downsize and consolidate with smaller institutions. I am happy to say our student numbers are increasing now and we have a blend of on-campus and remote learning.
We still facilitate the engagement with peers and tutors that students want from a university education but we also get more time to do the things we need – much less travelling and rushing from class to class.
For the academic staff too, remote meetings are so much more efficient. If only we had this in place back in 2020!
Send us your visions
This is one of a number of visions of the future of HE, created as part of our learning and teaching reimagined programme.
We’d love to hear your visions for how learning and teaching in higher education will change over the next few years.