[LINK] Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years
tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Apr 28 11:51:38 EST 2012
On 28/04/12 11:14, I wrote:
> On 27/04/12 11:09, David Boxall wrote:
The formatting of my reply went a bit haywire. Here is a better version,
also blogged at:
In Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years, Professor Chris
Lloyd, University of Melbourne, predicts the number of "genuine"
academic positions in Australia will return to 1952 levels. Here are
some comments on the article:
RESEARCHING AND TEACHING
> Academics create knowledge through largely unfunded research ...
Professor George Walker, has been discussing the relationship between
teaching and research in Canberra this week:
> ... generate curriculum; they deliver lectures; they accredit ...
Academics have been largely untrained in how to design and deliver
education. There are now teacher training programs in place at many
Australian universities and these will make a big difference to the
quality of education:
KNOWLEDGE MIDDLE MEN
> When I started lecturing in 1978, I would take one or
> two textbooks and write out my own lecture notes. ...
Yes, there are many disciplines which started out in such an ad-hoc way.
But it is time we did things more professionally in tertiary education.
> These days, I design new courses by trawling the web ...
It is one of the dirty little secrets of education that teachers use the
Wikipedia but then penalize their students for doing the same. In some
courses I have got students to critique and edit a Wikipedia entry to
give them an appreciation of its good and bad points:
> I deliver the course to the students in a big hall. ...
In 2008 I decided that lectures were not a good way to do education, so
stopped giving lectures:
> Surely, 60 years from now, the very best curriculum and audio visual
presentations will be collected, digitised and organised ...
Videos of lectures are not that much more useful than live lectures.
There are better ways to do education. Techniques for new teaching
styles are explained in tertiary teaching courses run by many
> I am not sure that there is much interaction in most lectures ...
"Lecture 2.0" is the general term for more interactive lecture
techniques (my "last lecture" gets a mention):
COULD IT REALLY HAPPEN?
> Electronic interactions through small groups ...
Small groups work well, face-to-face, or online. But we can't handle an
increased volume of students this way, without improved tools and
techniques. Routine tasks of helping students with academic writing, for
example, can be automated with an artificial intelligence tutor.
WHAT ABOUT ACCREDITATION?
> Accreditation is another core function of universities
> which they currently monopolise. ...
Professional bodies also run courses, certify professional training and
accredit university courses. I was commissioned in 2008 to write an
online ICT Sustainability course for the Australian Computer Society.
This is designed to meet a global skills standard and delivered as part
of a globally certified professional program, accredited through
national professional bodies. It was later adapted for use at university
in Australia and North America:
> A degree is a quality guarantee ...
>I cannot see the private sector usurping this role.
There is little distinction drawn between public and private sector
tertiary institutions when it comes to quality, they have to meet the
The major issue is local versus global: if a student is studying
on-line, will their teaching be outsourced to a low cost country?
BRAVE NEW WORLD
> Many may argue that it is daft to predict
> what will happen in 60 years. ...
We do not have to wait 60 years: changes to education are happening now
and will become very apparent in the next five to ten years. Australia
is well placed to benefit from this change, as for example, one of the
leading Learning Management System products (Moodle) was developed here
and there are many deep thinkers on how to do education better.
The current situation reminds me of the Internet in the mid 1990s, when
technology was available and worked. But most IT professionals were in a
state of denial, saying the Internet was just an academic experiment and
not suitable for serious use. Within a few years the Internet came to
dominate IT. The hard part was integrating the Internet way of working
into traditional corporate culture: http://www.tomw.net.au/auugpa.htm
Some academics are now saying that the more systematic approaches to
education are threatening their academic freedom and that online
learning is untested. But I expect that within a few years these will
become the normal and obvious ways to do university education. Hopefully
Australian universities will be part of that change, or they will become
just satellite campuses for overseas institutions.
My suggestion to my colleagues on how to get to the new world of
university education is "Integrating Online Learning into Campus Life":
Tom Worthington FACS CP, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia http://www.tomw.net.au
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards
Adjunct Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
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