During the Techonomy conference held in Lake Tahoe, California, Bill Gates predicted that the traditional means of getting a higher education at universities--especially the place-based institutions--will dramatically change over the next five years.
"Five years from now on the web for free you'll be able to find the best lectures in the world," he said. "It will be better than any single university."
A good deal of knowledge could be gained from the Internet given that students are self-motivated learners. Gates offered an even broader opinion that students young and old should be credited for their gained knowledge no matter the source--whether it's from the Internet or earned through an MIT degree--and a means to "highlight" those credits.
But Gates didn't diminish the role of education institutions for students K-12. He reportedly spoke "glowingly" about charter schools where children spend up to 80-percent of their time getting an education.
Instead, he was more concerned about the post high school graduate, stating that colleges need to be less "place-based." He also pointed out two major problems with the college system: the cost and level of difficulty in gaining entry to the upper-level institutions, and the overall size of the text books.
"They're giant, intimidating books," he said. "I look at them and think: what on Earth is in there?"
He pointed out that the equivalent books in Asia are three times smaller, yet the United States is far less superior in many ways with education. He concluded that the only way to get control over and expand education is to embrace technology.