Speculative Design for Higher Ed

In 2025 10% of students attending top tier American universities enjoy access to the latest technology, upscale amenities, effective and experimental pedagogy, and a face to face intellectual community.

Most undergraduates in the United States take a series of standardized online courses managed by one major global firm — the Apollo Group. Apollo rose to preeminence by having the foresight to retain the intellectual property rights of adjunct faculty, building a repository of thousands of course syllabi, assignments, and activities for every subject while also acquiring Pearson Education. The company limits the production costs of its service by automating much of the administrative work of teaching and learning. Student progress is monitored and assessed through innovative use of big data, course management systems, and biometric fingerprinting. Students are led through the process of choosing courses and identifying a major through online recommender systems that take careful note of a student’s demographic information, “likes,” and past purchases.

For students in 2025…

An average college education costs $250,000

1% of students can afford an education without loans

The average student loan debt is $50,000 per student. 25% of these students will inherit at least $10,000 in student loans from their parents.

40% of college graduates remain unemployed for five years post-graduation

99% of college faculty are employed on a temporary contract basis without benefits

70% of college staff and administrators do not make a living wage

You are tasked with generating a new model of higher education. You won’t change the entire system, but you will create a design that goes viral among disenchanted students who start to implement your idea. A new door opens toward a better future. In order for this door to open you must begin gathering your thoughts and relevant skill sets today with those around you. There is no time to waste.


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