Drew Halley: Goodbye freshman seminars, beer-pong, student loans, and your cap and gown. Hello online coursework, digital textbooks, lecture mp3’s, and a radically new form of higher education. I can hear it already: “College is so 20th century.” As technology booms, is the university a dinosaur lumbering its way to extinction?
In the eyes of many, yes. David Wiley, a professor at Brigham Young University, recently claimed that the modern university “will be irrelevant by 2020.” Why pay for expensive, boring lectures when you can tap the same vein - for free - with lectures on your iPod? What use are pricey textbooks when their content is widely available online? Critics see the ivory towers of higher education crashing down, quickly replaced by the pillars of the information age. But are these predictions prophetic, or simply alarmist?