by Paul Kiser
A Future Phone Conversation Between Mom and her Son
Mom! I just got a flash from Dr. Ramjan..HE ACCEPTED ME!!!!…Yes!…I start his program right away….for crepe’s sake Mom, it’s not like when you went to college. I don’t have to go sit in a classroom and listen to some no-name drone on about stuff nobody cares about!….No, I’m not slamming your education, but honestly Mom why did you put up with it? Going to classes, paying for parking, student fees, and being told what professors you had to learn from, etc., etc….
Tomorrow’s College to Be Professor Based, Not University Based?
Brick and mortar universities have created elaborate rules and policies (and fees) that tell a student what classes they must complete (some required, a few elective) to obtain a degree. Many of the classes will have facts based on outdated research that must be memorized for tests. In the end the student has a degree that includes course work that had little to do with what is going in today’s working world, but was forced on him or her by a system of Higher Education that is designed for the education of a group, not of an individual.
Social Interactive Media (SIM) tools create new options for Higher Education that could overcome many of the shortcomings of the current University environment. Here are a few issues with the status quo and how Social Interactive Media offers solutions to these issues:
Less Education at a Higher Cost – Universities are slashing budgets as they are being given less money with which to operate. This means larger classes, fewer professors, and older facilities and equipment.
SIM Solution: Eliminate the major costs of massive campuses and administrative overhead using Social Media as a student’s access to the professor. The classroom can be anywhere in the world, including in the field or in the student’s home. This is not a new idea and the use of the Internet for teaching is becoming widely accepted.
Lack of Choice – In the University environment the student has little say in what classes they will take and even less choice in the professor. The professor might be a graduate student with little or no teaching experience, or a tenured professor that has years of teaching experience, but has not performed any research in his or her field for a decade or more.
SIM Solution – Allow the student to choose the seminars and the instructors based on the information and reputation of the professors through blogs and references online. This may create a new classification of the Education Coach who advises and recommends professors and course work. Perhaps Education Coaches will be individually accredited and specialize in certain fields, or perhaps they will be accredited to help a student define a general studies (liberal arts) type program.
Inflexible Scheduling – University classes are based on the concept of group teaching, which requires all students conform their lives to the schedule determined by administrators.
SIM Solution – Individualized studies where the professor works with the student schedules programs that are mutually beneficial.
For decades there have been versions of independent study programs and in the past decade, many legitimate Internet-based colleges programs; however, the negatives of the existing University environment, exacerbated by funding shortfalls open the door to Re-Imagining higher education as a Student/Professor centered system that is relevant, rather than an administrator/bureaucratic centered system that is insensitive to the individual.
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