Sunday, April 26, 2009

Colleges Obsolete by 2020?

There was lots of education news in the past week or so. David Wiley, a BYU professor, told a group of professor and administrators last fall that their universities would be irrelevant by 2020. He was interviewed last Monday in the Deseret News. There's further discussion in the Christian Science Monitor's Horizons Blog. One interesting bit:
Most of today’s classes follow “the traditional industrial model, where you go into a classroom, and you sit at a desk, and someone lectures to you for an hour or so, and then maybe a few questions. But the reality is that most kids today are very technology-savvy and multitaskers. And so they actually live in one world, and then we ask them to forget about that digital interactive world and go into a classroom using the industrial model.”
I recently read a good point that we conduct all of our assessment and evaluation of students on an individual basis but that students learn through group work, facilitated by technology - all those thousands of text messages, for example. It will be interesting to see how our current crop of students redefines education policy when they grow up and get their chance at reform.

President Obama gave a speech on education that emphasized tougher standards and benchmarking, creativity and entrepreneurship (transcript):
And I'm calling on our nation's governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.
Mr. Friedman weighed in as well with a column about a new study from McKinsey (NYT), which includes this well known finding: "But our high school kids really lag, which means that 'the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,' said McKinsey. " This result comes from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Specifically, these tests find that US students perform very well in fourth grade but perform worse as they move through the education system.

While our primary and high school education systems may not get the bang for the buck we should expect, our system of higher education continues to be the global gold standard. In the newest issue of The American Interest, Itamar Rabinovich, the former President of Tel Aviv University (and UCLA alumni!) examines the supremacy of U.S. higher education:
The leading American universities, drawing on large endowments and high tuition fees, attract a vast number of faculty scientists and scholars from around the world, particularly in cutting-edge fields. Countries like Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and India feel that this particular brand of “brain drain” sets them back in the competition in such areas as computer engineering and bio-medicine. National elites in many of these countries resent the primacy of U.S. universities and the loss of seniority once held by schools like Oxford and Cambridge, the Sorbonne and Heidelberg.
This was perhaps a disjointed post, but it reflects the range of discussions from just this past week, discussions that are just getting started.


  1. yes-no coming to class

    1. admit

    2. no admit

    i was in college for over 10-years. all a college is sell admit ticket to class. A degree is paper with ink.

    one digital college can reach billions, billions,

    any computer.

    college gone by 2020 2030

  2. google yahoo facebook

    Free Free Free

    college maybe obsolete by 2015 or sooner.

    21. century digital age. college gone by 2020