Sams posits that the entire student loan industry will implode in 2013 after Congress passes legislation that eliminates Pell Grants and allows students to wipe away their massive debt loads by declaring bankruptcy. Student debt is currently the only form of debt that cannot be eliminated by bankruptcy.

Students nationwide will revolt and demand that colleges and universities only charge for assessment of their knowledge, not the information that Udacity and Coursera offer free of charge.

By 2014, colleges will have made the shift to assessment-based learning, a model popularized by Western Governors University (WGU) and Excelsior College and recently adopted by the University of Wisconsin, the first public campus to experiment with competency-based learning.

To fill the vacuum left by the overnight collapse of the student loan industry, free online learning platforms will be sustained through a new funding system in which companies pay the online schools to funnel the best students into their industries.

The old-school campus, meanwhile, will become a relic.

“Residential college campuses are now maturational holding grounds for the children of the wealthy,” Sams said in the video. “Their focus is on comfortable living accommodations, gourmet food, social activities, and sports teams.”

Martin Van Der Werf, a blogger for the ed-tech site The College of 2020, said the “EPIC 2020” video, while raising valid points about the direction of higher education, goes too far in predicting the total replacement of traditional classrooms and campuses.

“I see some of those things happening. They won’t replace higher ed altogether, but serve some pockets of higher ed,” he said. “The video was almost a work of science fiction, and the value in sci-fi is that it helps you imagine 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.”

It doesn’t take a futurist to predict a far-reaching role for Google in higher education, Schroeder said. Google’s first free online class, called Power Searching With Google, launched July 10. Students will be able to discuss class material in Google+ groups, and like the other free educational models, Google will give a certificate of completion to everyone who finishes the course.

“I think that there is every possibility – even a probability – that Google will get into the education field in a big way,” Schroeder said.


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