What should education look like in the 21st century?

Why would one ask this question? I ask it because I was reading about AcademicEarth. AcademicEarth is just another in a long line of tools that are making it easier for people to educate themselves. iTunes U (how annoying is it that you can’t access this via the web), Flat World Knowledge, Wikipedia, and many other sites provide access to world class teachers and research to anyone who can access the Web. It makes it increasingly difficult for an institution to know if it was their curriculum and staff that produced the learning outcomes they seek. In an increasingly assesment oriented climate I would think this access to outside resources makes the results of assessment almost meaningless. I think it also makes one wonder just what it is that distinguishes institutions from one another. So what should education look like in the 21st century?

Comments

  1. I don’t have an answer necessarily, but it is very exciting stuff to say the least. I would love to have have had these resources when I was younger.

    Do you think it’s all relative? By that, I mean kids are immersed in so much these days already that are these just the equivalent to the learning methods we had at our disposal or are they truly tools that would give a student an edge?

    My gut reaction is the latter, but I’m not totally convinced the former isn’t at play as well.

    • I think it is fundamentally different than when we were in college and high school. Before the birth of the Web (which turned 20 on March 13th) your options were to talk to people you knew personally or to visit the library. A learning community was restricted to those in the class and those who had taken it already. Now you have so many more choices. Your learning community can span the globe, you can supplement what your teacher is telling you with articles from thousands of websites, or lectures from acknowledged world experts. You are no longer confined to the library and your friends.

      I think this is one of the things that scares some librarians. It should also cause the Department of Education to think about just how in the world they can assess an individual institution when the institution has no way of controlling where students are gaining their knowledge. Liberal Arts colleges may be perfectly placed to capitalize on this with their focus on critical inquiry and thought. Rather than our faculty focusing on creating lectures maybe they should focus on helping students gain the skills to determine when a resource they find is truly useful. I don’t know. I do think that schools that don’t start to think along these lines and adapt will fail.

  2. I actually just started a new blog where I am going to work on tackling this very difficult question. Please feel free to check it out and leave me your thoughts so we can build this conversation across. Thanks.

    http://stretchourminds.blogspot.com/