Learning is a process, where the learner accesses information and ‘learns’.
With easy access to information
anywhere [Mobile phones, laptops, desktops, books], anytime [The internet is always on] — knowledge today is no longer restricted to physical classrooms. In fact, the real learning is happening laterally, outside the four walls of schools, colleges and universities.
That is the vision we call as Open Learning.
Homeschooling is one way in which this dramatic paradigm shift in the field of education is being played out.
There is a note of caution here. Are you sure the information you are learning from is true and correct?
Education Times on the 5th of December 2011 wrote: These are some of the issues that were discussed and debated upon in two international conferences held recently in two parts of the world — ‘Re-inventing Higher Education’ in Madrid, Spain, and the ‘World Innovation Summit for Education’ (WISE) in Doha, Qatar.
Lisa Anderson, president, American University in Cairo (AUC), points out, “Most of the learning now takes place outside the classroom; through the internet and social media sites.”
Considering the way technology has changed the education landscape, experts working in the area of education believe that first and foremost, the traditional mindset has to change. That can help the academic community to perceive the future needs of a student going through this transition.
For instance, Graham Brown-Martin, founder of Learning without Frontiers (LWF), a global platform for thinkers and practitioners, argues, that in a digital age, when most of the learning takes place through video games, blogs and social media, we need to see things differently.
He adds that plagiarism is a serious concern today. Schools and universities are installing software to find out the correct source. “Who cares?” he asks, saying that it doesn’t matter whether a student has copied or not, but whether he or she has chosen the right text to copy. “We need to understand that the world is not about retaining facts at the moment, facts are free, but the world is about deciding which facts are true and correct,” he says.
The future roadmap of higher education, the academic world agrees, needs to include blended methodology, lifelong learning, collaborative efforts in research and curriculum development, introduction of transnational accreditation agencies and increased student mobility.
While students today are versed in new technologies, thus, acquiring new skills and attitudes towards learning, universities across the world are rethinking and re-inventing their role in order to cater to new student profiles. Technology and globalisation are reshaping the way in which knowledge has traditionally been generated and disseminated — teaching students to work in multiple geographies, among others. In this new landscape, is there a need to re-invent higher education?
Many feel that the concept of a university is not as sacrosanct as before. “Institutes of higher learning can no longer operate as insular entities. We need more diversity, different institutes serving different needs of students at different costs,” opines David E Van Zandt, president, The New School, US.
Adel Adem from Eritrea, a finance student at Qatar University, agrees to say that the dynamics of a traditional classroom has undergone a major change. “With the online space coming in, students have a broader knowledge source today and universities should realise that the mode of knowledge delivery has to change to cater to a student’s individual profile.”
Another important change that is being observed is the role of students as stakeholders in higher education. According to Martha Mackenzie, president, Oxford University Student union (OUSU), though students are not comfortable with the consumer narrative, but because they are paying high tuition fees, they feel that they have the right to question the quality of education they are being given as they have a lot more at stake.
But the ultimate question remains: Why do you want to learn? To gain more knowledge for the sake of our ego?
Times of India adds: Yet another challenge for universities is to account for the relevance of education for graduates’ careers. Do institutions of learning need to have closer ties with industry? From the student’s perspective, both Mackenzie and Tetiana Mykhailiuk, president, AIESEC International, feel that the ‘real’ motivator for higher education was and still is employment.
“Traditional universities who pride themselves on their role in imparting knowledge should not be critical but open to the fact that majority of students are not opting for higher education for the sake of education but for a better job and life. Universities should cater to a diverse group of students with different needs without compromising on intellectual integrity,” they add.
On a concluding note, Mohamed Farag from Egypt, studying electromechanical engineering at the University of Alexandria, says: “Universities will need to bridge the skill gap, as well as ensure a seamless shift from the classroom to the workplace.”
Re-inventing Higher Education was organised by IE University and World Innovation Summit for Education by the Qatar Foundation.
At this point I would say, learning just for the sake of employment is a sad statement. It means you are placing priority on getting money over getting knowledge.
The Bible talks about the value of wisdom and knowledge as being above any worldly wealth!
Think about it…