Saturday, September 20, 2014

Academically Adrift - More of the Why of Connected Learning

Why we teach?  Why our courses?  Why higher education?

Josipa says it, "Academic rigor pays off."  And, Richard talks about the importance of having well-structured group work and study sessions, not just 'sending 'em off to do group work.'  Rigor is not about difficult tests and failing lots of students.  Instead, rigor means well-designed and meaningful experience in courses that connect students with their colleagues, with the instructor and with the content, as well as the things that actually matter, the critical thinking and the literacy skills. Those are what make students successful in life.

We need to explain to students what the purpose of college is, why they are taking this course in this program!   Purpose-driven courses, rather than content or assessment driven courses, are how to address this.  The online world and digital tools can give a sense of real-world connection and relevance, IF WE DO IT RIGHT.

And another key idea...colleges are measured on enrollments, graduation rates, salaries/wages of graduates.  But, what about the "Changing Lives" metric? Mimi's 'normative rant' that starts about 48:00 about youth culture, working hard to get into college, and then the real social experience of college is well worth considering.

Finally, stay until the end.  Richard sums up the history of the purpose of higher ed in 20th Century USA society well.  Many colleges were founded by religious orders for a higher moral purpose, but that changed with post WW2 society and the Cold War.  That period saw the expansion of the state college and university system, with the purpose of creating the scientists and technicians to build an economy that could compete with the Red Menace.  In the absence of both of those imperatives, what is the purpose of higher education in the 21st Century?

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