Tertiary education: Providing increasingly unaffordable fees for the privilege of listening to often mediocre lectures? Your thoughts....

This post originally appeared here: Progress in education: Is it about developing competitive and open ...

I took a couple of sharp intakes of breath while reading this article (Schools are failing our children simply because they are technophobes, by Allister Heath, that was shared by Mike Preece).

I certainly agreed with some of the broad statements ("universities...still mostly requir[e] students to study full time on location and pay increasingly unaffordable fees for the privilege of listening to often mediocre lectures"), as well as with the overall message that education, is in many cases, not meeting many of the needs of learners.

However, I admit to a visceral reaction when the author referred to problems with education as including "no automation, no economies of scale, no productivity gains" - which are surely terms rooted in business developments from the 19th century! Currently, many industries are returning to a small-scale, responsive model of working that has many more similarities to cottage industries than the huge behemoth of companies that are beginning to groan. Rather, for education, shouldn't we be thinking about agile, responsive, individualised facilitation of learning experiences?

In addition, I felt there was a bit of a problem with the author's suggestion that there is a direct causal link between "shockingly high levels of youth unemployment" and the provision of education that "suits neither students nor their employers". Hmmmm - growing population, ongoing recession, diminishing natural resources, the growth of India and China as economic and business powers - maybe these also have some impact on high levels of youth unemployment?

Finally, the whole notion of "there is no proper transition from campus to office": does anyone remember the graduate positions that used to be offered (and still are by some companies) to help with this transition? It isn't purely the responsibility to education providers to smooth this transition; rather, I believe, it needs to be a joint effort that includes education providers, business, and wider communities.

At the end of the day, I suggest that progress for education is way more complex than "paving the way for a more competitive and open education market, allowing and incentivising schools to adopt technology". What do you think? Please jump into the conversation....

 

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