The traditional university – you know, the one using the same teaching format used in ancient Greece, the one that rewards professors for staying longer (and often doing less), the one that has become some type of “stamp” of educate-ability – must change. I’m not talking about adding sections that accomodate online learning, or putting better computers and projectors into their classrooms, or developing more “race to the bottom” majors that are high on fluff and light on rigor, I’m talking about an overhaul, about innovating and re-energizing in the most thorough sense. Of course, something as inherently institutional as universities must change gradually, but change they must. The university, like every other organization, is part of a market system and must continue to provide significant value, or go the way of the buffalo.
In a recent article in the Feb 12, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (linked below), a national-award-winning professor who had advocated the technological highway as the path to university improvement has had to rethink his approach and message. The reason, in my opinion, is that the fundamental learning process was not challenged or changed. The ancient Greek model of lecture-theater was only streamlined and made more accessible via a computer interface.
Ask a student what they want from college, from a class, from those amazingly potent 4 years of their lives. What you’ll find is that fundamentally, what students want and need most is engagement. Deep engagement, conversation, and debate with the instructor, with each other, with knowledge, within themselves, and – importantly – the chance to apply their knowledge through engagement with the community.
At the University of Tulsa, we’re piloting a new approach to higher education, and we hope you’ll make contact with us and join us in the process!