Online college courses like EdX and Coursera will replace college degrees in the future – Quartz

This story is part of What Happens Next, our comprehensive guide to understanding the future. Read more predictions about the future of college.

The speed at which technology is changing has created a reality where we need to rethink our education system. The impact of rapidly changing technology on the workforce and the economy cannot be ignored, and we must accept the fact that we must continually learn and refresh our skills in order to remain relevant.

The jobs of the future will require a hybrid set of skills in a variety of fields. But our current model of education requires us to spend at least three years studying the same singular discipline. As the fashionable skills will change many times as our careers progress, higher education degrees also adapt, focusing on flexible and customizable degree offerings.

In this future, imagine that instead of getting a one-time degree from a university, you will design your own personalized degree from many online or residential programs. Smaller, modular pieces of education will rule and our learning experience will become incredibly flexible and customizable.

Think of it like building a Lego castle block by block instead of buying a pre-made plastic one: you select the different bricks you need to build the strongest foundations of your career.

Instead of getting a degree from just one university, you’ll create your own personalized degree.

Modular education will allow students to personalize their employment prospects. Instead of spending four years pursuing the same degree as thousands of others, they will be able to build a degree that showcases their strengths and differentiates itself from the competition. They will be able to combine humanities skills with technical skills, communication skills with coding skills, and analytical skills with design skills. This approach will essentially allow students to synthesize their own education with the personalized skills required for the careers of the future.

This flexibility in education reflects the changing nature of the future of work. The most exponential fields often lie at the intersection of two seemingly independent professions. For example, data science is one of the fastest growing areas, but a data scientist also often needs a solid professional experience in the industry in which he is integrated, such as renewable energy, politics or financial services. It requires a unique hybrid skill set that is difficult to teach in a traditional, siled educational setting.

In order to excel in these jobs (or even apply), a prospective employee would currently need to earn two different degrees. But in the future, if a student knew the direction he wanted to take, he could take courses in two different streams: for example, by building a master’s degree that merges the data science of a department or a university. and biotechnology from another.

One of the new vehicles on which these modular degrees can be built will be Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are courses that have been designed to be taught online, with open and large-scale admissions, and are capable of reaching thousands or hundreds of thousands of students. Based on the latest advances in cognitive science learning, Studies show that online learning often yields similar or better results than a traditional classroom setting because of its flexibility, personalized pace, and instant feedback.

You won’t even need to graduate from just one school. We envision a global credit exchange network that will allow students to create their own customizable degrees, consisting of multiple degrees from various higher education institutions. This is already starting to happen, as MOOC providers and their institutional partners are offering more programs and degrees that are valuable as stand-alone certificates and are eligible for credits at participating colleges. Universities will continue to share decoupled degree content, and in the future, students will stack modular degrees from multiple universities into larger degrees and degrees.

Modular credentials will better prepare students and adults for an exciting and unpredictable future.

This continuing education approach can also be applied to single course skills. Once in the workforce, learning and sharing knowledge will be an ongoing experience. Our ability to continually improve our skills will become even more imperative in the future, where rapidly changing technology will force the workforce to constantly repeat. Workers will therefore need to continually learn and refresh their capacities in order to remain relevant.

It will be good for higher education institutions. A college or online platform will have the opportunity to specialize in certain subjects and offer the components of education in which its instructors truly excel. When each university can focus on what it does best, educators and the educated will benefit. Additionally, the experiences of those pursuing on-campus studies will also improve, as they will be able to supplement their in-person training with specialized modular online content from other institutions.

The potential reach offered by online education means that universities can also reach a global audience that is not achievable in person. It also benefits learners, as they can seek the best education from the world’s best institutions internationally, preparing them for an increasingly connected economic and social world.

Education is not static. In the future, traditional degrees themselves may become obsolete, and employers will increasingly seek the diverse skills that learners know relative to the degree they have. Modular credentials will be ideal for professionals who want to update their skills to adapt to the changing job market, better preparing students and adults for an exciting and unpredictable future.

This story is part of What Happens Next, our comprehensive guide to understanding the future. Read more predictions about the future of college.

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