The future of higher education?
I overhead an interesting conversation in the hallway yesterday…
Two men were talking about their ages (looked to be mid-fifties) and one commented, sarcastically, to the other that “You know us old guys are out of the loop with computers and stuff, and besides that, we’re slow!”
Now, I don’t know about the slow comment (my father-in-law is in his seventies, and would whup my rear in a one-on-one game) but the first part of his comment got me thinking. Both of these guys graduated college around the time I was born. Given the speed with which business concepts are changing, how could someone who was trained that long ago, hope to keep up?
Now, before you start screaming at me, I know one of these guys, and he is WAY smarter than I am (and makes a lot more money, I’m sure). I’m sure some of his frustration comes from the fact that he works very hard at keeping abreast of new concepts, and maybe the color of his hair is the only thing effecting other people perceptions of his abilities.
Then I thought, “Wait a minute, before I become a complete ageist, I need to remember that the “kids” I see graduating right now probably place me firmly into the “old coot” category as well. I mean when I was 18, people who were 38 were OLD!
When I was in school, we we’re just hearing about this thing called the internet, there was no iPod, no DVD’s, and blogs? Forget it! Top that with the fact that the education I was receiving was based on the decades old education of my instructors and, well… I’m already a dinosaur!
Then I read in this morning’s Oregonian (front page) that “97% of the class of 2005 are satisfied with their skills, jobs and pay…” Well, bully for them! What about the class of ’86…or, for that matter ’96? (mine)
I mean we’re talking about people who thought ASTEROIDS was pretty cool!
What am I going to do? Go back to school? Yeah, with a full-time job, wife and family, personal commitments outside work? Maybe if I learn to give up sleep…
And even if I did, it seems like companies are much more interested in what certifications I hold, that what my degree is in. (Theatre and English Lit, btw. Don’t even bother putting THAT on a resume!)
So, between spending years and years learning what will probably become outdated technology or practices within months of graduation, and the fact that you have to win the freaking lottery to afford a four-year degree —
(According to USA Today, for the academic year 2006-07, the average cost of tuition, room and board at a public university was $12,796; for a private school, the total averaged $30,367.)
— AND put your life and career on hold for those four years (or more), and NOT even getting me started on trying to pay off school loans…
I have to ask…
Is the basis of our educational system flawed? Especially those that focus on careers in technology industries? If not flawed, at least in need of a major overhaul?
What if we spent a shorter amount of time in “classic educational institutions” and then had an ongoing educational system (web based?) that would could focus more tightly on the ever-changing information that really effects what we do?
Regarding the “Future of Education,” eLearning pro Ashwin Ramasamy, says the following:
“Ivy league universities will no longer have an academic head quarters. They will have a string of physical and virtual campuses integrated by charter, yet liberal on pedagogical approach.”
What do you think of this: Rapid increase in new technologies =
1. A need for ongoing, targeted education.
2. Less dependency on educators whose principle knowledgebase is decades old. (Again, not saying educators don’t keep abreast of current technologies, but the time requirements involved are problematic with a full-time teaching position, and family responsibilities.)
The rising costs, and diminishing ROI of a 4 year degree require:
3. Shorter “educational internship” (leading back to #1)
4. Increased on-going web-based education.
5. Focus on more influential certifications, as opposed to traditional degrees?
Will our kids (or grandkids) even “go away” to college? And, more importantly, if they don’t…how are we ever going to get them out of the house?
What do you think?