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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Future of higher Ed

Okay I could not resist the post title since it is still the first week of January. And it's a silly title as it implies a disintegration or disappearance. That's not what is happening though .... Or maybe it is a disintegration in the sense that the landscape is not as carefully maintained as it once was. Certainly students have more options now than they had even a decade ago.

The largest change is that colleges and universities are beginning to allow students to have those options and to integrate them into their college degree plan. As the pool of 18 year olds whose parents are willing and able to fund four years of college gets tighter more types of colleges find themselves looking at other demographics. And other demographics come with baggage... err... learning... from other places. They have more skills, learning, and understanding picked up on the job or from workplace education classes or from random classes from many colleges and universities. And they want credit for those skills and those learning experiences. How to assess that learning and integrate it into the current AA or BA is perhaps the question for the next few years. We don't want to lose the strengths that come from a liberal arts education, but we also need to truthfully assess our students as they come to us. And that doesn't mean asking them to take classes on material they already have a solid understanding of, even if they picked that understanding up in a non-traditional place.

The future of higher ed is exciting as long as we understand that learning can take place apart from the traditional academic campus and as our students become more integrated outside of campus they will want to see that reflected on their degree plans.

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