Some Major Issues of Future U

There are many key points raised by Curt Hopkins in his post ‘Future U: Fear and Loathing in Academia‘, both his own observations and those he quotes. I just picked out a few and added my own commentary.

"Technology has given us opportunities the people who taught me didn’t have." From Jonathan Rees (prize for worst home page, but raises his profile) A very key point for all current university teachers. The traditional ways of ‘quality’ interaction with students are being disrupted. Don’t fight change but transform your practice with the better parts of the new technology.

"Quantity has a quality all its own" Judging quality in the explosion of information is ever more difficult and becoming one of the most important skills students can be taught. Beware the ‘if we read/see it so often it must be true’ mentality of the popular media, ie the common wisdom should always be challenged.

“Things online are going to shape research going forward. If one archive is online and another is not, odds are most of the people working in that subject will favor the one online". Moral: you must be online to have your voice heard – hiding your thoughts on paper publications makes you invisible.

"It is easier to ask a question than type it” Yes, but it requires huge investment in time and money to be in a position to ask face-to-face in modern higher education. Technological alternatives must win out from an economic standpoint. In my experience typing a question and providing some context often leads the typers to answer for themselves. The extra time allows a second look and some reflection.

The effects of the the ‘flipped classrooms” seem promising but the data is not yet in.

On MOOCs: “Those who could otherwise never afford to attend a high-end university, or perhaps any university at all, can use companies like Coursera to garner an education they would otherwise have to do without.” This is hard argument to counter. As a Coursera student myself over the last few weeks, I have certainly augmented my education already.

"What happens if the tech doesn’t work?" This has the same answer to the question “what happens if the power fails?”.

I agree with Jeff McClurken:

"We can and should challenge the notion of the university as an isolated place," he said, "by reaching out and sharing the life of the mind."


About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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