There’s this (quite valid) idea that you can learn more or less anything on the internet, given you have the drive, dedication, and basic foundation.
Having come from game development, this is certainly true — scrounge the goody two-shoes in programming/design/scripting/animation forums for their knowledge and know-hows, scour the web for video tutorials on Maya, Aftereffects and 3DS Max, take a peak at MIT’s open course carts for programming lessons, or torrent a game engine and start practicing on your own/by watching others — the list goes on and on.
And this isn’t applicable only to game development: marketing, literature, art, science (though in-depth science fields may be a point of contention), philosophy, etc. all fit the bill. (Featured image is from someone who learned drawing with SAI solely through Pixiv and art forums feedback).
So why go to college at all, unless it’s for connect-building purposes, or if students didn’t know prior on how to utilize the Internet’s resources? (The “college experience” people seem to crave is more synonymous with the “debt experience” in the states, after all.)
In the years to come, what will the role of academia be, at least in fields generalized enough for people to learn via the internet? Any questions learners may have can be asked on forums, which are filled with people knowledgeable on the subject. Anything communication-based is rendered easier because of the sheer number of resources and people available, instead of trying to vie for that one professor’s attention and having to match their office hours.
Communication and collaboration with kindred spirits can also be found on either forums, IRC chat groups or disqus; current events are easily accessible on any news site; feeling adventurous? Get familiar with Tor and start surfing the dark web.
It seems in regards to learning and even collaboration, academia is falling behind — only the prospect of building connections for work still stands.
What will the future role of academia be?