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The Changing Role of Technology in Higher Education

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With technological advances such as Smart Boards becoming commonplace in the classroom, what kinds of technologies will students harness ten years from now?

The White House issued its first-ever college scorecard this week.  It’s a website designed to help people compare costs and offerings across all the public and private colleges and universities in the country.  It’s a tool that its designers hope will be useful in connecting schools with their future students.

But for as competitive as college admissions can be today, Bryan Alexander believes the schools will be increasingly hard-pressed to fill their classrooms a few years down the road. 

"The mood in higher education across the United States is one of nervousness," explains Alexander. "Many people are very frightened about where education is going. They don't see many bright paths forward, they don't have confidence in politics, and they tend to also be worried for their own institution's fate."

But he says for the students who are in college, technology will be playing an even bigger role in their education. In ten years it is a reasonable assumption to think classrooms will be saturated with all kinds of technology. Students will be able to manipulate a vast amount a data, have a multimedia experience on a screen instead of a chalk board, teachers will utilize voice/gesture communicative technology, copying devices, and much more.

"The classroom experience will be a three-way dialog between the students, the teacher, and the entire planet," says Alexander.

As the methods of teaching change with the influence of technology, Alexander says that we also need to be mindful of changing the curriculum as well to harness what humans are truly good at in an age with increased technology.

"In ten years this is going to be a subject that we will be dealing with," he says. "In fact in curriculum of K-12 as well as higher education, we now have to think not just are we preparing students to build robots, but we have to think are we training students for jobs that may not exist ten years from now?"

Bryan Alexander is a researcher and futurist in the field of higher education and technology.  He was the keynote speaker yesterday at Marquette University’s first-ever Faculty Technology Day

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