Learning #MondayBlogs

Education has undergone many changes over the years.

From the 1800’s to now learning has changed dramatically. From the days of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, the heroes of teaching and learning we have been on an interesting road. The quality of education has appeared to be based on the number of PhD’s on the faculty. Nobody talked abut the quality of the TEACHING. That has been one of the flaws of the education system.

In the 1960’s Clark Kerr gave a series of lectures at Harvard that were put into a book called “The Uses of the University.” Harvard had created the “elective” system whereby the student chose the curriculum. This resulted in a lot of people who graduated with very little “learning.” Kerr developed the California system with the UC system on the top, then private Universities, then Junior Colleges. The UC system for the ‘smarter” students to the others at the private to the lower skilled to the Junior Colleges or Technical schools. Imagine.

Yet there still exists a HUGE hole.

Who is it that qualifies the teachers?

How do we measure learning?

Today we have HUGE student loan debt.

How did we get here? When I went to University I paid less than $500.00/year plus books and lab fees. Today we are talking about more than $25,000/year plus, plus, and I am being very gentle. This level of tuition inflation is becoming ridiculous.

There was something else going on at the same time. Parents in the US had been convinced that their children would be better served if they went to a University. They would make more money over their lifetime. As a result, less than 10% of the population had a bachelor’s degree in 1960. That passed 20% in 1970 then 25% in the 1990’s and over 33% today. At the same time, it is said that 50% of the technical schools in America closed for lack of attendance. Quite a commentary isn’t it?

Many ideas of how people think and learn are a mystery to most people. However, at a few Universities learning scientists and computer engineers came together and started to develop educational tools that could be far more effective in teaching and learning. Mark Kamlet, the provost of Carnegie Mellon University, opines that 25 to 50 Universities are the total of the Universities that will survive over the coming decades. That is because teaching and learning are changing. The current universities are creating their own destruction. They are conducting research and they are trying to make things better.

In 1955 Herbert Simon attended a conference at Dartmouth where he and a small group of scientists gave a name to a new field of research called “Artificial Intelligence.” Learning is not a matter of accessing information but rather a matter of organizing and making sense of it. Cognitive scientists started asking the fundamental question. “How do people think and learn?” It is clear that our brain is a very complicated tool. The importance of thinking patterns and expertise means that learning needs to be looked at in different ways. The trouble with this is that this making developing courses very difficult. It is not easy to simulate working environments. Believe me we are in that business. But that is where as a society we are going. The University of Everywhere is here now and will become even more significant going forward.

We are perpetuating the class society with our education system.

Clark Kerr institutionalized this within the California system. If you have access to money you can get into a different school. Not a good approach to anything.

The new barriers of entry should be based exclusively on ability. Wouldn’t that be a nice change? That is where learning Management Software is taking us. That is where non-traditional teachers are coming from. We have to be extremely alert to the changes in learning.

We are mindful of these changes and watch the result of the student assessments from our online programs, not just to evaluate the student but also to evaluate our ability to transfer information. That is where we all have to go. Making learning easier and more effective.

The Time is NOW.