Thursday, 9 January 2014

Higher Education in East Asia - students and grads share their views

In doing some research into sustainability I came across the above video from the World Bank, summarising it's report into Higher Education in South East Asia. The research interviewed students and graduates about their experience of Higher Education, and they provided some thought provoking quotes:

  • "Higher Education can help us get better jobs but not necessarily the jobs we want."
  • "Experience and capability are more important" than a paper diploma.
  • "Lack of work experience is the biggest obstacle to finding a job. Many companies do not have time to train graduates."

When asked what changes they would like to see the provided the following responses:
  • More room for students to be entrepreneurs
  • A global teaching system that respects local values
  • "What I learned was completely divorced from reality. Copying the western model is not suitable."
  • "I hope schools don't become too utilitarian, teaching just for employment. There should be in-depth knowledge."
  • "Developing learning methods that help teachers and students think creatively and out of the box"

What about you? What are your thoughts on the above statements? Do these statements confirm or challenge your experience of Higher Education?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year's Day educational message from Seth Godin

I've had an enjoyable break from Twitter over the Christmas break. But having switched on the computer on New Year's Day I came across this thought-provoking video from Seth Godin in which he outlines the reforms he believes are needed for compulsory and post-compulsory education. In questioning the fundamental philosophy which informs current approaches to pedagogy, Godin's observations echo those of Sir Ken Robinson in highlighting the need for a fundamental reevaluation of the educational system.

Why aren't more governments and educational policy makers listening to people like Seth Godin and Sir Ken Robinson? History shows that resistance to change never succeeds in preventing change from occurring. It seems evident that the sooner governments, universities and schools embrace 21st century educational thinking the more likely they are to ride (and potentially profit from) the wave of change. And yet report after report is written highlighting the problem of entrenched views hampering the uptake of new pedagogical approaches (see, for example An Avalanche is Coming, Innovating Pedagogy 2013).

Why is there so much fear of change, particularly in the Higher Education sector which for centuries has been at the forefront of intellectual thought and new knowledge?

We are already entering a post-digital world where ubiquitous access to information should inform a fundamental reevaluation of 19th and 20th century working and pedagogic practices. MOOCs represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of a new view of education, and Thomas Friedman has issued a stark warning to universities that they should strongly consider moving away from a model of 'time served' and towards one of 'stuff learned'. Friedman believes that "increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for,  what you can do with what you know". Those institutions that are able to adapt their provision successfully will most likely lead educational innovation well into the the next decade and beyond.

Seth Godin, Sir Ken Robinson and all those offering an alternative view of education for the 21st century should be congratulated for continuing the march on the ivory towers of educational practice.