In July, Jordan Weissmann gave us all a warm fuzzy blanket to make us feel better about higher education and the direction we are going. Whispering a soothing lullaby to university heads and administers everywhere, he rocked the cradle of complacency with reassurances that all is well, and we have nothing to fear.
However, the fear is still there. The unsettled feelings of disquiet just won’t go away. I’m sure the apologists who still lecture in the same way they always have will be relieved to hear that the internet isn’t really going to change anything. We should keep calm and carry on.
The idea that researchers make the best teachers is still resoundingly true, I am the centre of my teaching world because of my expertise, lecturing is a fine art refined over centuries of practise, students are learning as well today as they ever have, our graduates can think better, and have better skills than ever before, and we have new funding models and resources that will answer all our problems.
Except that all of this simply isn’t true. The world is changing. Just because we want to hear that everything is the same as it always has been, and aways will be, that doesn’t make it true. The world has moved into the age of information abundance in as little as five years. Our world (the world of universities) is firmly rooted in the age of information scarcity. EDx isn’t going to change that. EDx is based on a flawed model. EDx is simply taking what we currently do and digitising it.
There are answers out there. There are models of learning that work. There are reasons for universities to still exist. We just haven’t embraced them yet, and I have doubts that we (in the West) will, which is why I read with interest about Africa and India will lead the education revolution. I agree, and am excited to see it happening.