It IS Not about Technology

We have technologies now that allow us to carry forward the evidence of work and the work itself from semester to semester. Though we can use the semester time frame as a way to define fees and revenue, there is no longer a reason to use the semester time frame as a way to define student work. Students already learn in many alternate ways on many differing but formalized learning paths. Higher education is expert in managing experiential or co-op learning, semesters abroad, internships, service learning, and so on. We know how to create structures based on the work itself and the natural work cycle, just as in real life, so altering how we structure a learning cycle is fully within our expertise.

It IS about Technology: Integrating Higher Ed into Knowledge Culture— Trent Batson, Campus Computing, 8/6/2008

I shouldn’t get all cranky– Batson’s making a legitimate point. The current educational pattern– classes, semesters, lecture halls– hasn’t changed all that much in the last one hundred years when compared to the changes in technology and the rest of our lives.

As a professor of mine used to say, you can look at photographs of classrooms from the late 19th century and things won’t look so different than they do now. At some point things are going to change, and the new system may suddenly snap into place like a rubber band.

On the other hand, the current system grew up under the assumption that educational access should be universal and universally good. The new system seems to be emerging out a very rigid class system, in which material privilege is hardly challenged.

The poor have one medical system, the middle class another, the rich yet another. It seems, too, that the new technology increasingly means the poor will have one education system, the middle class another, and the rich their own. It’s class, not technology.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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