Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Technologies are Changing Learning and Teaching

In 2025, an undergraduate with a pocket computer notebook will be able to choose from among different types of educational experiences. There will still be liberal arts colleges that are residential in character and personal in approach, however, they will function without science departments since the sciences and mathematics have become so interconnected that departments no longer make sense. On the other hand, there will be no more research universities that provide on-campus instruction; they will have evolved into research institutes that provide only on-line lectures that registered students receive at home. They will meet with students in an on-line discussion, similar to chat rooms offered by home computer services. Some existing facilities of research universities will have been sold to a new type of institution, the "university learning center," which will be an entrepreneurial center connected to a national network.

Students (in science or in the arts) will go to the center for an extended residency at regular periods, for hands-on activities within a laboratory, so that the experiential aspect of learning can develop over time. Since many science classes at universities will not offer laboratory work, the experience of the practice in these fields will be carried out by students downloading data and providing analysis and design of future experiments based on that data.

Liberal arts colleges and comprehensive universities are likely to take advantage of the on-line lectures from the research institutes in several ways. For example, students may be able to take courses, including elementary and intermediate languages, and complete a degree in two to four years. The language facility of science students would be valuable for potential international internships. On-line instructors would be available 24 hours a day. It is also possible that secondary school science and mathematics courses could be taken by high school students, thereby giving them additional credit hours upon entering college.

In 2025, no distinction will be made in teaching at the undergraduate level for majors and for those who are not majoring in the fields of science and mathematics; it will be obvious that all citizens need to be comfortable with science and technology. By 2025, we will have determined how to best incorporate an ethical dimension into learning science and technology, we will know how to assess the value of active learning, we will have determined the right balance between "content" and "process" in our teaching.

Facilities will have interdisciplinary labs not connected with a particular department; facilities that can be used for truly interdisciplinary teaching and research. Moreover, these facilities will promote interdisciplinary interactions, by having faculty offices and research labs arranged in close proximity according to interdisciplinary areas of research (for example, biotechnology, materials science, surface science, etc.) rather than having a separate area or floor for each department.