[LINK] the net, higher ed, and change

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Jun 11 15:06:22 EST 2009

I find the modern approach to university education most foreign.

I read electrical and electronic engineering at a UK university in the 
1960/70s (who says "read" any more?).

Listening to lectures was only a small part of the education process. 
For a start, they were interactive - you could ask questions and get 
into a dialogue with the lecturer. There were no electives and the 
courses were planned out as a complete unit . There were tutorials and 
practicals and you were allocated a mentor. There were end of year exams 
and finals. There was no concept of accumulating credits only in 
subjects that interested me.

I lived away from home, mixed in the sporting and social life of the 
university, met people from a wide range of backgrounds and locations 
(and my future wife) and acquired an education far greater than the 
content of the lectures I attended.

When I finished I was a highly qualified engineer with skills to last a 
lifetime but I still wasn't a real engineer. I needed to acquire the 
practical experience to become a productive engineer. This I did by 
joining a company that took graduate engineers and which taught them 
what they didn't get at university.

Oh, and I was given enough money by the local education authority to pay 
for fees, accommodation and food. Holiday jobs helped pay for the 
extras. No debt, no job to support myself: all my time was available for 

When I look at today's courses and education method, especially in ICT, 
I can't say much progress has been made. I think that the government has 
managed to save money, but I suspect it has come at a cost.

Equating education with the availability of lectures seems to be missing 
some of the essentials of education.

I think I'm turning into a curmudgeon. It seems to be something I'm 
being taught by modern education. Or just that I'm getting old.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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