The Future of Academic Education by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
I'm a writer, scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am advisor to the President of Shenkar College. In the evening I write children's books, satire, and "how to" manuals ("Mel's ten tips). I'm co-founder of Ourboox and married to Ourboox CEO Shuli Sapir-Nevo.
Oct 2013
Member Since
1383
Published Books

The Future of Academic Education

by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג

So little has changed at colleges and universities since I was a student in the early seventies. Students are accepted based on their ability to get the ‘right answers’ through grade school, high school and the aptitude tests.

Students still sit in classrooms, where they are talked down to by a professor for exactly 90 minutes. Courses still last 13 weeks. The students still have homework to assimilate the ‘knowledge’. They have books made out of paper to read. They study for exams where they are asked questions that have ‘right’ answers. They get credits per course. They study the same core courses and graduate. Perhaps the biggest change is that the Kodak slide projectors we once used have been replaced by Powerpoint.

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The world, on the other hand, has not stayed in one place. Very far from it. In the early seventies there were no personal computers, mobiles, no internet. We had sets of dictionaries in which we would look up words according to the alphabet. If the entry for frog mentioned toad, we would have to look for another book in the encyclopedia to find out about toads.

If we were lucky, tadpoles would be in the same volume. Knowledge was once hard to access. Now it’s easy peasy. Who needs a professor to impart knowledge?

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Even more daunting is the way the world may or may not look like in the future. Will we lose 30% of the jobs we currently train our students for? Fifty percent? No one knows.

But one thing appears certain. Any job that a computer or robot can do better than a human is in peril. And computers and robots can do a lot of things we were once trained to do. More and more professions become redundant as I write these words.

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There are four possibilities. Quick attrition, slow attrition, alternative college (university) education and adaptation.

Quick attrition. More and more young people realize that an academic education is overrated and relatively ineffective.  More and more companies are hiring people based on parameters other than their ability to puke back the formulas and facts they have been taught. Government cuts support. Colleges close. This is already happening.

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Slow attrition. Academic institutions continue to become more and more old fashioned and outdated as workplace demands grow. This of course has been happening for years. Alternative college education. Online, semi-online.

These frameworks are easier to maintain, less real estate is required and less manpower, and although the teacher-student interaction is very limited (read: Open University) there is a huge potential for such initiatives because current frontal teaching institutions are so mediocre in teaching

Which brings us to the fourth alternative: Update academia and make it relevant to the future of our students. Who is game?

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