Inside Higher Ed posted a piece on the modern university that is at once exciting, and troubling. What should be the role of higher ed today? And also important is, how should that education be delivered? West Virginia Colleges are in catch-up mode (and some more than others). The technological advances are being adapted at some universities, while at others, they are slow to change in delivery. Part of the problem with this technological advance is that students are in control. As the market goes, this is a good thing–people have an abundant number of choices. On the other hand, education has never been a consumer driven force–it was always a moral education driven by concerns of philosophy. Liberal education is education in the virtues. Do undergraduates have enough knowledge to choose the appropriate classes? That is the issue.
At any rate feast on what is happening in the education community that could make places like Harvard so passe:
There are two basic options the way I see it: fundamentally change the way higher education is delivered, or resign ourselves to never having enough of it.
The good news is that all over the world people are thinking big about how to change higher education. Brick, stone, and marble institutions with centuries of prestige behind them are increasingly being joined by upstarts, both nonprofit and for-profit, and even more loosely organized communities of educational practitioners and apprentices.
The open courseware movement started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, when the school decided to put its coursework online for free. Today, you can go online to MIT OpenCourseware and find the full syllabuses, lecture notes, class exercises, tests, and some video and audio for 1,900 courses, nearly every one MIT offers, from physics to art history. As of March 2010, 65 million people from virtually every country on Earth have raided this trove.
Open educational content is just the beginning. Want a personalized, adaptive computer tutor to teach you math or French? A class on your iPhone that’s structured like an immersive role-playing game? An accredited bachelor’s degree, in six months, for a few thousand dollars? A free, peer-to-peer Wikiuniversity? These all exist today, the beginnings of a complete educational remix. Do-It-Yourself University means the expansion of education beyond classroom walls: free, open-source, networked, experiential, and self-directed learning.
This opening world presents huge questions about the true nature of a college education: questions that are legitimate even when they are raised with self-interest by traditional educators.
Head on over to the link above for links to some of these programs and their innovations.