Monday, September 28, 2009

Heard this before...

I was reading an article recently on the Washington Post, the title of which was A Virtual Revolution Is Brewing for Colleges. Quite honestly I've heard this before, and I've been hearing this for the last ten years. Still hasn't happened.

Here's an interesting quote:
the young students of tomorrow will be growing up in an on-demand, personalized world, in which the notion of a set-term, offline, prepackaged education will seem anachronistic.

In my experience, there have been very few prepackaged classes. In all of my undergrad education we've had guidelines about what should be covered, however the classes were anything but prepackaged. We did get off syllabus, we did explore interesting tangents, and the students who were in the class did offer valuable insights.

Another interesting quote:
soon you'll see more Web sites that make it easy to take classes from a blend of different universities.

While this would be interesting, there is a problem of accreditation and making sure that each puzzle piece fits together. You can't just take some from column A and some from column B and mix them up and be able to satisfy graduation requirements. You will learn, but will you be able to satisfy graduation requirements?

Another interesting quote:
The Internet makes it harder to justify these redundancies. In the future, a handful of Soc. 101 lectures will be videotaped and taught across the United States.

This quote also makes education sound more like the prepackaged variety that the article seems to try to avoid. Quite honestly this person doesn't seem to get education. Yes lectures do go over certain themes, but lectures are not textbooks. Lecturers, or rather good lecturers, do change their material, they do bring new and fresh examples that illustrate the theory that you are learning. What's pertinent in Massachusetts may not be pertinent in Oklahoma or Texas or Maine. There are lots of state issues that come up as examples in these lectures that make the pre-taping and reuse of these materials no good.

When this happens -- be it in 10 years or 20 -- we will see a structural disintegration in the academy akin to that in newspapers now. The typical 2030 faculty will likely be a collection of adjuncts alone in their apartments, using recycled syllabuses and administering multiple-choice tests from afar.

I can't tell if this is tongue-n-cheek or what, but this sounds dystopian and industrial. Do we really want to learn this way?
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