As technology continues to change the way people learn on every level of the education spectrum, the best method for implementing new tools for instruction has become a fiercely debated issue. The rise of Massively-Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in particular has become a focal point of discourse, with college administrations adverse to the potential loss in revenue that online courses could present. But Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which partly deals in matters of education, believes that the college classroom of the future could use MOOCs and other technological advancements to create labs and discussions around course material delivered by the greatest academics in the world.

In an interview with CNNMoney, Gates stated his belief that the massive size of lectures seen today, some containing hundreds of students, are a passe form of instruction.

“If you think about K-12, the younger a student is, the more that being in the class and having the blocks to play with is very fundamental,” said Gates. “It’s only when you get into college that then a meaningful amount of the time could be done with an online experience.”

Gates said that the failings of these massive lectures were mainly the result of two factors: the value of actually attending these lectures in person and the financial burden in doing so.

“If you actually go and get a college degree, yes, your payoff, not just in terms of economics, but the kind of jobs and things you get to do is absolutely worth it, but it won’t be affordable,” said Gates. “That’s the problem. We want every kid in America to be able to go to college, and that accessibility is getting worse and worse.”

Gates also pointed to the fact that classes in community colleges were increasingly overcrowded while attendance at other higher education institutions was on the decline.

“The community colleges that have this broad acceptance model are getting so that the classes are clogged up, they’re too large, and you can’t get into the class you want to because of these state budget issues,” said Gates. “So there is a dilemma here that the rhetoric here is ‘more kids are going to college,’ when the financial reality is that less kids are going to college without some kind of breakthrough.”

So what breakthrough is needed? According to Gates, online endeavors must improve, and doing that will require content delivered by the world’s best academics coupled with a more interactive and assistive online education sites and software.

“How you create a structure that motivates average students to engage in these things, that’s very tricky, and we’ve used social engagement where you’re there with a lot of kids at the same time. Can we recreate that online?,” said Gates. “When you get confused and you get discouraged, is there a mentor who comes in and helps you out? Potentially, by having more information about you and a pool of people that can come in and help, digital could actually be better than the face-to-face, but we’re certainly not there yet.”

Gates envisions a new hybrid method of instruction in which actual course materials are delivered through MOOCs taught by the best professors in every field, while brick-and-mortar institutions would then devote their time and resources towards labs and discussions around that material.

“These large lecture classes, being there physically doesn’t really add much value” I would guess that a decade out, there will be very few large lecture classes given, and certainly the public schools will focus more on how they take not their own lectures, but the very best that are out there and create the labs and study groups around those.”Source: CCNMoney