In health professions programmes, there is likely to be an increased demand for learning through simulation. Well-equipped and staffed simulation centres are attractive to students and can allow them to learn clinical skills in an environment that is safe for them and for patients. Use of simulation may extend to augmented reality and virtual reality simulation, particularly if these becomes more common generally.
Students may also be attracted by the use of dedicated training wards with real patients, but with clinicians who have time to teach. In some countries 9e.g. Scandinavia) training wards in which interprofessional teams of students look after patients under the supervision of qualified staff have been developed.
In the next 10 years, there may be swing away from digital learning: evidence is beginning to emerge of adverse effects of extensive digital connections on the mental health of students and this might lead to a renewed preference for face to face learning.
We also need to find new/alternative ways to ensure that learning (in its broadest sense) is happening: these include increased integration of formative assessment into learning, opportunities for interaction with experts (in person or with the use of technology), learning communities, peer-support, near-peer learning etc. Appropriate learning environments for individual work, collaborative working, supported learning etc. will be crucial to the success of this and would be more appropriate than the building of larger lecture theatres.
Learning doesn’t happen in lectures, so we need to consider what could replace lectures and how we could ensure that learning does happen. Could material delivered in a lecture format (be that in person or electronically) be delivered in another way? Or should the approach be to support and facilitate students to access the wealth of knowledge/content that is available to students on-line, in textbooks, from practical experience. If this second approach is to be effective, we need to support students to formulate the right questions, to find what they need to know and to develop the confidence to trust an answer they find themselves.
In future, we will increasingly rely on evidence-based research to inform decisions about educational approaches, rather than make decisions about change based on anecdotal evidence or a reliance on the status quo. Given the current gaps in the educational literature, we should be contributing to the evidence-base for ‘what works’ in higher education teaching and learning by undertaking high profile educational research.