Higher Education – Dangerously Close to Becoming Irrelevant

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In his 2006 report to the Panel on Innovative Teaching and Learning Strategies, Associate Professor David Wiley, Ph.D., raised more than a few eyebrows when he informed panel members that higher education in America was “in very real danger of becoming irrelevant.”

Wiley describes the antiquated college classroom experience thus:

“Students are inside a classroom (tethered to a place), using textbooks and handouts (printed materials), they must pay tuition and register to attend (the experience is closed), talking during class or working with others outside of class is generally discouraged (each student is isolated though surrounded by peers), each student receives exactly the same instruction as each of her classmates (the information presented is generic), and students are students and do not participate in the teaching process (they are consumers).”

In contrast, students experience a completely different world when they are outside the classroom:

“From her dorm room / the student center / a coffee shop / the bus, a student connects to the Internet using her laptop (she is mobile), uses Google to find a relevant web page (a digital resource which is open for her to access). While carrying out her search, she chats with one friend on the phone and another using instant messaging to see if they can assist in her search (she is connected to other people), she follows links from one website to another exploring related information (the content is connected to other content), she quickly finds exactly the information she needs, ignoring irrelevant material (she gets what is important to her personally), and she shares her find with her friends by phone and IM (she participates in the teaching process).”

Higher Education – Dangerously Close to Becoming Irrelevant