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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Friday, August 31, 2012

EPIC 2020: A Bleak Future for Higher Ed


William Sams, recently appointed interim associate provost for information technology and chief information officer at Ohio University, has a rather dark view of the future of higher education.

In his world, campuses will be reserved for the ultra-wealthy or athletically gifted because most college degrees will have been replaced by badges earned through free online courses. In addition, Apple will buy Amazon to become a learning resource giant, Google will deliver free online classes called Evolving Personal Information Construct (EPIC) where students can earn those badges, and all of it will happen by 2020. Sams presented his observations in a web video called EPIC 2020 (embedded below).

“It’s not my sole objective to be right or wrong here, but to get people talking about things that need to be discussed,” Sams told eCampus News. “All of us are trapped in the paradigm of how things have been, the system we’ve existed in all our lives. A lot of [educators] have a worldview that makes it impossible for them to even see solutions to problems that exist today.”

In the video, Sams predicts Congress will eliminate Pell Grants next year, students will demand colleges only charge for learning assessment, and new funding will go to free online learning platforms to fill the void left by the disruption of traditional higher education. In addition, Apple buys Amazon to create the world’s largest content-distribution site, called Applezon.

“I see some of those things happening,” Martin Van Der Werf, a blogger for The College of 2020 ed-tech site, told eCampus News. “They won’t replace higher ed altogether, but serve some pockets of higher ed. The video is almost a work of science fiction, and the value in sci-fi is that it helps you image worlds that don’t exist yet. Sci-fi stories draw plausible scenarios that make you think of what is possible, and that’s why this video might be valuable.”

One of Sams’ projections is already starting to come to fruition. On July 10, Google launched its first free online class, called Power Searching with Google. Students will use Google+ groups to discuss class materials and will earn a certificate when they finish the course.


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