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June 14, 2009 / compassioninpolitics

Will University Education Stay Relevant?

A revolution is happening under our noses in technology which changes the nature of communication. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube signal what very well is a tipping point in our collective cultural history. Along with this change in communication, increasingly students are armed with laptops, the cost of web development is declining, and workplaces are increasingly moving in a decentralized and virtual direction.

All of takes place in an ongoing ecosystem in which universities are increasingly challenged to define their role and justify their massively escalating prices. Even as newspapers are buckling for failure to adapt to new technologies, universities look to the next stage for internet disruption and its creative destruction. Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics illuminates in a recent article “Will Universities Stay Relevant“:

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still common. It’s part of a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education.

Students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities are to remain relevant, they will have to change.

Professors will have to abandon the traditional lecture, and start listening and conversing with the students — shifting from a broadcast style and adopting an interactive one.

I’m surprised Tapscott’s review didn’t provide a more robust case developed from Howard Garner, although he mentions him in passing as well as critical pedagogy theorists like Pablo Friere whose theory called the “banking model of education” is classic in education curriculum theory discussions. For more on higher education disruption check out my exploratory article.

What do you think of the current trajectory and value of universities? What does a 21st century education look like?

How do the forces of mass customization and social networking fit into the mix? Does the wisdom of crowds and crowd sourcing have a role? Does the iPhone and other mobile devices change the face of education delivery and interaction?

And will universities keep up or will they be next in line for creative destruction after the newspaper industry? How can universities and professors re-calbibrate their current courses?

One Comment

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  1. Ber2 / Jun 15 2009 3:45 am

    Great article. Thanks for the sharing.

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