A few weeks ago I was in conversation with the President of a reputed US University. I asked her a question, What’s the one thing that keeps you awake at night?
I expected her to talk about challenges in Education and even challenges relating to faculties, but her answer truly surprised me. She said, what really keeps her awake at night is the fact that for the first time in more than five hundred years, Universities will lose the monopoly to award degrees to the student.
That’s a startling statement and the repercussions of the underlying problem can be clearly felt in the today’s world.
There has been a debate that often makes the rounds in our social circles—What is the Value of a University Degree?
The most important of question is whether the university education bridging the gap between getting a job and getting a degree. And this is the crux of the problem. Most universities are finding it a challenge to make Job-ready graduates and thus becoming practically irrelevant in today’s world.
Personally, I believe that University experience is extremely important, because you not only learn from the Professors and the teachers in the classroom but also from fellow students and from your friends. Peer learning is just as, if not more important than the classroom learning.
The entire ecosystem where the students live at the University, not only allows you to understand things from different perspectives but fosters a sort of network and an inspired-space where the startup culture really grows.
If University education system wants to remain relevant they not only need to protect these unique characteristics but support and nurture them.
Another important direction in which Universities can make significant improvements and headways is motivating the faculty to adopt and use the technologies in the education system. Even among the faculty, the use of technology has at best received mixed responses. Some believe that, if the use of technology is allowed in the classroom, then the students simply Google the answers. While the others believe that if something is available on the internet, it’s not classroom learning at all!
There is an immediate need for the development of New Age Models for the Universities so that they remain relevant in the today’s world. One such step is to dynamically change the University curriculum to suit the needs of the students, the employers, and the industry. This can even be taken to the level where the location of the University and location of the industry guide and influence what education is relevant in the local job market.
If Universities want to be ‘New-Age’ in terms of learning, the Flip Classroom model makes sense. Where the basic videos of the classroom teachings are given to the student before the class starts and the actual classroom becomes more of a discussion platform or a problem-solving exercise. This will add significant value and understanding to the education of the students.
There are many other steps that can be taken but we need to make an immediate start otherwise the University education will become irrelevant.
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