Monday, February 4, 2013

University 2060: The Brave New World of Higher Education

The main entrance at Monash Berwick Campus
Monash Berwick Campus (Wikipedia)
by Dr Philip Riley, Senior Lecturer in School Leadership. Director, Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey at Monash University, The Conversation:

Higher education, 2060: academics are out of a job.

All the brand name universities have made all their courses free online, easily doing away with one side of the teaching and learning equation.

Pretty soon all the universities realised how much money they could save.

Tutorials have been replaced by Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with the wisdom of the crowd sourcing all answers from the students themselves. Algorithms update the online course content in response to the question’s popularity - after all, “the customer is always right”.

Eventually no new information is taught, as it is too difficult to produce. There can be no FAQs for new material. So university courses have become useless. People need to find other ways to learn.

Universities took up the idea of the customer is always right earlier than 2012. Students became clients. So it became obvious that student evaluation of teaching results determined careers and promotion of lecturers.

That is, even when the students could not possibly be in a position to evaluate the teaching, as they were yet to be introduced to, grapple with and eventually understand, difficult and complex issues. And yet they were asked by administrators to rate their teachers.

Students assumed that because the material was hard, the teaching must be poor. So the complaints went: it should have been easier to engage with; the lecturer did not spend enough time explaining how to get a good mark; they did not answer my questions quickly enough (even if most were posed late at night, and answered by morning).

So the universities felt justified in getting rid of their lecturers: after all the student feedback was not good and the lecturers were difficult to deal with.

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