Archive for February 25, 2011

Urgent: Please share your teaching change stories

I blogged a few weeks ago about Sally Fincher’s project to gather teaching practice change stories.  There’s a deadline on the project of next Friday.  Please visit soon and tell her about how you change your practice at Thanks!

February 25, 2011 at 11:21 am 1 comment

The university of the future

A bunch of University Presidents (is that the right collective noun for a group of University Presidents? A herd? A coven? A flock?) gathered recently to talk about the University of the Future.  I found Georgia Tech’s president’s comments pretty interesting.  I’m not sure that the 25 year view really works for a strategic plan — how can we know what’s going to be valuable in 25 years, and if we don’t know, how can that inform our strategies today?  I buy the importance of flexibility (see previous post on sociology and drop-outs), but I think he overstates the importance of technology today.  Yes, students have expectations of even more technology — what’s the cost of not meeting those expectations, and what’s the cost of encouraging a focus on an oral culture (as Alan has pointed out)?  His story in the below about Georgia Tech using social media to continue classes during our ice storm week is unfortunately false– we were told that faculty could not hold classes or other learning activities (e.g., on Facebook, or via video on Sakai or YouTube) when campus was closed because campus was closed and students should not be expected to engage in those activities. (Similarly, we’ve told that we can make up classes (in evenings or weekends), but we cannot mandate students attend. So what’s the point then of “making up”…?) In any case, I do think that we have an interesting mandate to explore the role of technology in extending and expanding the concept of university.

Peterson also talked about how technology is changing the way we live our lives and run our universities. He said Georgia Tech is now developing a 25-year strategic plan. He acknowledges that it’s pretty tough to imagine what educational life will be like in 25 years. But when we look back 25 years, we can clearly see what the exercise is valuable. It was roughly 25 years ago when the first PC was available commercially. Now we’re texting billions of messages a day around the world. The world is largely transformed in 25 years.

“We must ask what has and what will continue to distinguish our graduates from other graduates around the world,” he said. “We can’t look two, three or five years ahead; we need to look 25 or 30 years ahead.” Universities need to make plans to meet the needs of future students being born today.

Universities have to re-evaluate the way they teach the digital generation, he argued. Young people see technology as part of their everyday lives; the expect a continuation and expansion of this at university.

And technological capabilities can come in pretty handy beyond the daily routine of a university. When a rare winter storm forced Georgia Tech to close down for three days, professors used Facebook, email and Skype to deliver their lectures and stay on schedule.

Peterson said universities also have to adopt a more flexible approach to education. He envisions a model of undergraduates working with a committee of faculty to choose their individual course path leading to a degree; younger students enjoying the kind of flexibility currently afforded to graduate students.

via Think Canada – Pensez Canada The university of the future |.

February 25, 2011 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

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