[LINK] the net, higher ed, and change

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Thu Jun 18 07:20:19 EST 2009

Glen Turner wrote:
> On 12/06/09 17:40, David Lochrin wrote:
>> Yes Tom, but what does it all actually ~achieve~ over the traditional
>  > university culture, and what is lost?
> I've thought about this more as the days pass.
> It offers the opportunity to return to an older university culture. When
> students were expected to do a large amount of independent learning, guided
> by regular meetings with tutors, broadly following a plan devised and
> supervised by a professor.
> My concern would be that the cost savings from ceasing lectures would go
> back into university funds, rather than being used to consciously develop
> a new model of closer engagement with students (eg, hiring sessional
> staff).
> My other concern is that students may not actually desire independent
> learning. Let's face it, for most university subjects if you attend
> the lectures, crib the assessments and cram the exam then you'll pass.
> That's a lot less work than actually coming to grips with a subject.

Picking up this angle, and also returning to one of the premises of the original
article ...

Demographers have invented a mythical generation that's supposed to be 'tech
savvy', 'more connected' and 'more independent' than its predecessors. This
generation is a marketing and sales construct, and I think it's a big mistake
for people to restructure education purely on the basis of that marketing construct.

>From personal experience, I find that if people who are well into university IT
studies, but need *my* help to load CSV files into database tables, then I have
to conclude that the supposed 'tech savvy' characteristic of the marketing
demographer's assumptions doesn't really exist. (This happened a few days past;
the uni student has databases as a major study theme, but has not in some years
encountered the "LOAD DATA" command, because he hasn't got past the GUI).

My experiences with students working as interns is that some are independent and
motivated, but as you would expect with real people rather than demographic
constructs, this is not uniform.

I agree with Glen's observation that we have the opportunity to return to a
former university culture - but we should remember that this is not just because
there's a set of magic technologies that allow us to do so. It's about the will
to do so and the funding to do so.

Richard Chirgwin

> Equally, I'll note that we once gave students 18 weeks to come to
> terms with a topic. Now I see 10 week semesters at some places.

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