Despite my nostalgic recollections of school homework, with hours spent laboriously poring over logarithms, I have to agree that science and technology have improved matters. Life without calculators, computers and the internet would be tough. The myriad of applications of ICT are impacting everyday life on a truly global scale. Information, and its beneficial use, is available wider, quicker and cheaper and in many cases free at the point of use. The UK Open University pioneered the use of radio and television back in the 1970s as delivery vehicles for teaching. We are now seeing the rapid growth in “massive open on-line courses” (MOOCs). These courses are more than good university lectures available online, the real innovation comes from integrating academics talking with interactive coursework. The economic impact of MOOCs on students, parents, countries and universities could be very significant. One potential casualty is any cross-subsidy between teaching and research. MOOCs will make it far harder to overcharge students, especially undergraduates, in order to subsidise research.
Crystal ball gazing on a ten year timescale is rarely accurate, but it is probably fair to say that for those who most want it, education will be transformed.
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