Monday, June 6, 2011

The education bubble

Is higher education a bubble waiting to burst? That's the question asked by Trent Batson in his column on Campus Technology this week, Is higher education ready for the 'the education bubble?' With tuition fees ever rising and a growing mismatch between the education provided and the expectations of an increasingly global and digitized industry the question is whether higher education is worth the investment.

The trouble is that even if it is clear that the net is radically changing society, universities seem generally paralyzed, unable to recognize the changes taking place and deeply rooted in traditional concepts of learning and teaching. Batson is not confident that they are capable of changing:

"Can institutions that have invested so heavily in a guiding concept of learning transform themselves? Probably not. Institutions work to preserve the status quo; preserving the status quo is perhaps the main goal of any institution: After all, one fundamental purpose of “institutionalizing” anything is to make it permanent."

He is not suggesting that traditional four year campus education will disappear any time soon but alternative learning arenas will develop that will offer more flexible and more work-related options. The process of radical change in higher education has not even started since it entails a complete revision of every level of the institution. New technology can transform education just as it has transformed so many other aspects of society but it is not being allowed to because it forces institutions out of their comfort zones.

Another good article on a similar theme is by José Picardo, The case for online social networking in education. His post is more aimed at schools than universities but the message is similarly relevant:

"The internet – with its social networking and communication – provides us with a way to evolve teaching and learning to a level that better matches our 21st century students’ needs as well as their expectations – although it may be pretty standard for you, you can understand that a child born in the year 2000 might consider writing a letter a bit old-fashioned.
By putting the children first, we can then begin to imagine a new pedagogy in which teaching and learning are upside-down, focusing on the needs of the children, rather than those of the adults tasked with their schooling.
A child’s imagination is boundless. Just for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a child and imagine. Imagine new possibilities.
And while you’re at it, keep reminding yourself that your job is not to teach, but rather to ensure learning happens."

Excellent articles both of them but, as always, they seldom reach the eyes of those who most need to read them.

1 comment:

  1. Education is so poor because of the mismatch between what's done and what's known about optimal learning--much of the problem still left over from Progressive Education's acceptance of familiarity as an adequate goal of learning. Let me send you the manuscript of my soon-completed book that explains: "Practice Makes Perfect: How to Rescue Education One Classroom at a Time." John Jensen