Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pards got new looks

Check out www.lafayette.edu, they testing out a new look.

Definitely feeling a little fresher than before, but I could still do with less options to click.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What do we call education today?

No matter how many times I have asked myself this question over the last 4 years, I still do not seem to have a concrete answer.

From my point of view, our notion of formal education, at least where it relates to higher learning from a Bachelors' Degree onwards, seems to have evolved into a structured hierarchy of training. Students globally compete to attend institutions of higher learning, many of whose names are known worldwide. Some institutions become credible for hosting driven and committed students who expect to land top jobs (check out a forum discussion here) for a variety of reasons, including a large alumni body, community partnerships, or privately funded fellowships.

In the process of accommodating more students applying to more institutions, guidelines have been formed that have today become solidified. That is, institutions are standardizing the way they teach, so as to preserve methods that produce effective results in students.

But they are not standardizing the way they, as institutions of higher learning, learn from their students. If we define formal education at the primary and secondary level as foundational instruction, at the tertiary level we expect education that also involves dialogue. We expect to learn through implementation, and through mutual understanding of value-based conclusions. I do not see this happening much on the tertiary level. What I see more often is a uniform solution to educating that has high barriers to entry and success.

I imagine a system of higher learning education that provides opportunity more than listed qualifications. I imagine a system where the role of students and teachers merge in the classroom. Teachers still teach core curriculum, but embedded in the curriculum is also what students learn from their implementation of the subject, either through experimentation or extended study. See one example of how teachers can in fact play the role of social change makers here.

So my take on this is that there's two solutions, or one that is a combination of two. First, I think the bigger, better-known institutions of higher learning (Harvard and Oxford are two distinguished examples) need to talk to each other. They need to talk to each other about their curricula, and about how they engage students to add value in the world after their studies as opposed to just during. They also need to figure out how they can collaborate to produce what the real product of education should be - understanding as a basis of human progress - instead of producing statistics of how better one institutions' education is better than the other.

Secondly, I think students need to become more aware of their potential as knowledge seekers and implementers. They need to discuss how opportunity for learning lies both, within and outside, the classroom. They need to work together to create projects that, even when they fail, can be learned from.

A combination of these two - a dialogue between both, higher learning institutions and students - would effectively adjust the status quo of what we call education today. Once again, this is my point of view.

Carpe diem.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010