Horns of the Dilemma for Faculty — Campus Technology

If you teach, or you are student, or staff at a school of any kind, this is the short and sweet summary that is signaling the big and disruptive changes that face education now. As assessment co-ordinator, I’m going to make this required reading for my colleagues. Kids, parents, if you are paying for education today, you ought to be thinking about these questions and demanding changes. Why pay big money for an education suited to the last century?

On the one hand, faculty members are still most often expected to publish as they always have, to teach in a classroom not designed, without retrofitting, for digital technologies, to teach students who really do want to be told what to think, to do well on faculty evaluation surveys that value traditional ways of teaching, and retain all the trappings of their quasi-religious profession.

Fundamental change is inevitable because cultural knowledge creation and dissemination has changed. None of us works in the same ways as 20 years ago, so why do we teach the same? The changes higher education needs to make require re-engineering on a scope unimaginable to most administrators.

via Horns of the Dilemma for Faculty — Campus Technology.

I actually did not write this piece, but if you have worked with me since the 1990s, you have heard me ask these very questions:

  • – Since the interaction between student and teacher is paramount, and not a particular geographic location, why is a classroom necessary?
  • – If it is necessary that the instructor make some logistical arrangements and a room is therefore necessary, why must the learning group then always meet in the room?
  • – If the class is very large and lecture is the only option, why meet in a large room where many of the students are more than 50 feet from the instructor? Why not use an online conferencing system to bring the instructor closer to each student and to enable more interaction, easier display, more variety, and where questions can be sent via chat?
  • – Why is the semester length fifteen weeks? Students in writing classes, for example, begin to really improve in week 20 or so. Why not design courses of learning based on how long it takes students to attain the learning goals? For some goals, 10 weeks may be enough, for others 35 weeks may be necessary. Isn’t it time to put learning needs at the center rather than business efficiency? Management software can handle many more variations than were possible before, so let’s take advantage of that new capability.

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