Jun 192012
 
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Quite possibly, but an education just from YouTube videos would miss the true point of a college education.

This past February, as one of the keynote speakers invited to contribute to a lively forum sponsored by the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), I presented a bold challenge to my fellow professors that has since been quoted many times: “If we can be replaced by a computer screen, we should be.”

Some were very alarmed at this statement, assuming I meant that all future learning should be online. But that wasn’t my meaning at all. Instead, I was insisting that if, as a teacher, at any level you are no more interactive and responsive than a YouTube video, then your institution and your students should save your salary and go with the cheaper–and probably more entertaining–online version instead, and offer the greater public good of making your course available to those around the world who don’t have the resources for the rare privilege of physically attending an American university.

The fact is the American university system is regarded, worldwide, as the best there is. If you are a wealthy citizen of China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, or many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, or Europe, your dream is to send your child to the U.S. for a college education. A glance at the number of international students at U.S. campuses today confirms that higher education is truly the one area where the U.S. has a highly favorable balance of trade.

At the same time, the U.S. is rapidly squandering its most vital national resource. While everyone is rightly worried about the high cost of a college education, what needs to be pointed out vigorously is how much that rising cost relates directly to the decline in federal and state spending on universities. State universities are barely supported by states anymore and federal support of higher ed is also declining, as we can see from the detailed reports issued by the Delta Cost Project of the American Institute for Research. Similarly, corporations have divested themselves on a grand scale of the labs and think tanks they formerly supported.

Universities have taken up the role of supporting the expensive labs and high tech facilities necessary for the basic research that fuels innovation, with corporations often supporting targeted, potentially profitable projects but not the enormous ongoing costs of infrastructure and personnel required to yield those more practical outcomes. Christopher Newfield documents these relationships in Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the University and in the sequel .

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – Cathy Davidson
 

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