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Comments about ‘The future of higher education is debatable’

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Published: Friday, June 14 2013 10:05 a.m. MDT

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XelaDave
Salem, UT

The end of higher ed. as we know it has been predicted every 5-10 years for at least the last 40 years- technology and ease of delivery were almost always at the base of such predictions- thus far the end has not become a reality- do some of these new delivery mechanisms change things and are post millenial types learning differently- probably- does that spell the end of higher ed as we know it- I doubt it- will some changes happen- yes- but dire predictions are usually made by those with a hope that if they get it right they will cash in and if they get it wrong no one will ever remember or care- so say something outrageous and hope you get lucky

Cincinnatus
Kearns, UT

Except, XelaDave, that technology has advanced so far in delivery via the internet in the last 10 and especially, last 5 years, that it now has the greatest disruptive potential in the last 100 years.

If I could take courses from Harvard, MIT, or Stanford, why would I take them from the U of U or USU or BYU? If I could take courses from the best programs and professors in the country and gather them together into one degree that cost less than $10,000, why would I spend $10,000 to $50,000 per year anywhere else?

Top tier schools will be fine. Even community colleges where there is more technical training offered, will be fine. It's the mid-tier universities that are going to have the biggest problems. They may end up having to consolidate down to their best 2-3 programs or risk disappearing altogether.

Will this happen overnight? No. But, it's coming.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Please no. The best education is still a great teacher in a classroom with his or her students.You simply can't get that interplay of thought and feeling with "distance learning." If that's the future, then prepare for a dismal future.

Cincinnatus
Kearns, UT

Irony Guy, in some cases that may be true. I've had college classes that were small, less than 15 students, and felt like the professor could have cared less that we were there. I've had relatively large courses, 30-60 students, where the professor was fantastic. I've also been in some of those dreaded courses where you were in an auditorium with 300-400 students- and you know that the professor will have no time for you. That's why they had 2-3 graduate teaching assistants.

It's not a dismal future- when Sebastian Thrun offered his CS221 class at Stanford online the first time, the top 300 students had taken it online, NOT in his classroom. At the university level, it's about personal responsibility to learn.

Education in the K-12 level is still done best with great, caring teachers. University courses, not so much. At that point, the learning primarily falls on the shoulders of the student. They should be old enough now to understand that learning isn't having a teacher hand-hold them through a class. It takes listening, reading, and research- often times beyond what the professor is teaching in class.

mcdugall
Murray, UT

@Cincinnatus - Your belief in technology is admirable but misguided. If the traditional Higher Ed paradigm of classroom based lecture/instructor is the base model for which online classes are based, technology will always fail and wont be fully utilized. The issue is not technology v classroom teaching, the question should be how to we fundamentally change education to promote the best environment for success. Let's not keep pushing the Utah Legislature adage of throwing technology at an old model, lets re-think the entire model top to bottom.

christoph
Brigham City, UT

Deity knows how to target an industry and bring it down; the law industry was hit hard in 2008 with the Great Recession, now all those who worship the university will see their foolishness.

Edyag
South Jordan, UT

Paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan, "We are products of our experiences not of our understanding, therefore if we are to change our behavior we must change our experiences, not how much we know." The loss of labs, experiential learning, simulations, intern experiences, social interaction, student body experiences, religious experiences, athletics, music etc, will be devastating, unless we want to spend our lives in front of a computer screen communicating with robots.The experience of college, good and bad, is every bit as important as is the textbook.

Ed Yager

Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT

It appears from my grey hair that one of the major complaints about so called higher education is the exorbitant cost involved in what is appearing to be mediocre results at best. Young people by in large do not read, cannot relate to and function in a work environment and are self absorbed with their own sense of worth.

College has become a big business. Presidents are hired to bring in money for the institution. Academics are secondary to money. Tuition, donations, grants of all kinds are the focus.

I suggest support of community colleges and Vo-Ed centers and only those who are truly academically and emotionally prepared should be matriculated into colleges and universities. Too many underclassmen are over their heads and without a clue of what to major in and whether it will be for their long term benefit.

If education at the high school level has been watered down, as some claim, I am of the opinion the decline in academic performance and capability has spread to the Ph.D. levels as well and we have a total slide in intellectual performance and capability among academia.

We have met the enemy and they are us.

Claudio
Springville, Ut

Strider,

Stereotyping young people is perhaps one of the biggest problems of our society today. If you think they are that terrible, it doesn't sound like there is much that can be done to fix it.

Maybe it isn't the young people who are at fault. Maybe it's the fact that they don't look like the idealized group their older citizens feel they should epitomize.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

@XelaDave

This newspaper predicts the demise of Higher Ed at least once a week.

Look at what the countries that are beating our socks off in Math and Science are doing.

They are investing in teachers, not electronic mail order classes

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

We need to have more people in the trades. That's an education with a future.

RockOn
Spanish Fork, UT

Having taught writing, marketing and entrepreneurship at five universities (never full time -- I had other work to do), I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the time with the students, but, some major overhauls are desperately needed in our university system. 1) 16 weeks is too long. Make it 12 weeks max. Too much of the remaining 4 weeks is padded and wasted in many classes. 2) Get more online but keep the live teacher. 3) Drop the whole foolish tenure practice. 4) Drop the entire academia rating system by rating university credentials by the # of Phds. While helping evaluate a prospective professor to be hired I asked the others on the committee how I should weight his Vitae and observed teaching performance. They said #1 - research, #2 - publishing in academic journals #3 - research ... I asked where his teaching ability should fit in -- they laughed and said "someplace after 5th." The guy was a lousy teacher and no one could understand his accent. But... he got hired anyway because of his research.

aghast
SYRACUSE, UT

With the predicament that higher education finds itself in - being to expensive for a poor college student to afford and not worth getting into debt for, it seems that finally technology may be catching up to education. Forget who has the best football, basketball, or other sports team and buildings - it will be who has the best foresight to embrace technology and teach "it". How to use it, how to do it and how make it work - technology for higher education.

Cincinnatus
Kearns, UT

@mcdugall and edyag

I don't think my belief in technology is misguided- I think it's realistic. I never stated that every class in every program should be taught online. But, what will happen is that those classes that can effectively be taught online are going to go that way. Chemistry or medicine still needs labs and hands on learning. But other programs, such as computer science, business and many liberal arts degrees (just to name a few) can easily be taught online.

In my experience, both attending a university and having worked for one for 10 years is that much of the college "experience" is a waste of the students tuition and fees. By my last three years at university, I was married and was working full time. I didn't have time to "do the college thing." I got my degree and had work experience to back it up.

But, ultimately, you're right mcdugall- the educational experience has got to fundamentally change. Clayton Christensen has made just that argument- for technology and new ways of delivering learning. Why do we keep investing 100's of millions in infrastructure (buildings) when we could focus on revamping the process?

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

The real test will be if quality employers -- places that college students really want to work at, including Disney, Google, Facebook, etc. -- will hire people with online degrees. In short, the new education model needs to prove its worth in the workplace.

Nonetheless, universities are facing a grim future with overemphasis on research that contributes little to society. Legislatures are cutting funding to high ed largely because faculty seem to be out-of-touch, conducting research simply for other fellow academics to read, but that have little interest or value to the real world.

Universities should be in the business of benefitting society and solve real world problems -- not simply research for the sake of getting tenure.

ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington

Personally, I enjoyed being on a campus and interacting with other students.

That much said, what was frustrating was the costs. For my major I had to take the calculus series. Our books were 800 pages and weighed a ton --- and each semester the teacher would change books, so we had to buy a new one, and since they were no longer being used, we couldn't sell them back. I think it is called 'kick-backs to the professors for selling books for the printing companies'.

Costs are so out of control that in order to get through for a simple 4 year degree, most will never repay their student loans before they retire --- If they can get a job, that is.

mattrick78
Cedar City, UT

Cut out the General Ed courses and get the bachelors down to a 3 year degree. They can take the GEs online for free.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I want to thank all the people that has helped me at the university of Google. Thank you for sharing and taking the time for giving the knowledge you have. I am grateful.

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