What will college look like to my grandson? Will he be required to find his building, show up for an 8 am class, try not to yawn, pay $200+ for a dirty, used textbook? Or will he be able to set his alarm for the web conference that he organized and set up as part of a group project? Will his education include hosting classes, taking tours, talking about art found in world famous museums, inviting artists and lectures and reading text that others have written?
Will college degrees still be necessary in the year 2030? What significance will they hold? What do they hold now? A degree doesn’t equal a job. A degree means (hopefully) that some learning took place and lots of jumping through the hoops. The jobs are going to those who can immediately apply what they learned .. and offer a service we need. I’ve needed the service of an auto mechanic lately but rarely have I checked the yellow pages for someone with a literature or history degree. This is the beauty of community colleges. They have smaller sized classes where students can learn and apply their learning right away.
At the community college I attended Onondaga Community College (OCC) the first semester was classroom learning and the second semester, I was in the field! My classmate, Peggy, finished at OCC then went to Syracuse University to earn her BA in Human Services. As a junior, those students were just beginning their field work — 5 semesters into their degree. At OCC, we were active in our 2 semester. The beauty behind that was if it wasn’t a good fit, we were able to jump to a different field and continue towards our degree.
My generation will still need the same services that we need now — but will we need to have a degree after it? What if the Gwebbers refuse to buy into the degree ploy? What if they educate themselves on the web and forgo the degree? What if they look at their parents and realize the hole mom and dad dug by getting an education yet, they remained unemployed with a HUGE college loan to repay? In this article, A Virtual Revolution is Brewing for Colleges, the author asks how it will look, what will change?
I think it has already changed. High School students are entering college and EXPECTING their professors to be using technology. Many teachers are struggling to get their classes loaded using the same text and syllabi they use in the classroom — which we all know is a BIG mistake. Online need to be interactive, concise and up to date. Students already access multiple forms of media simultaneously– cell phones, IM, email, I-pods, and twitter all while they are in a classroom. What magic act can get and hold their attention enough to teach them a new lesson? Whatever act is used, each time it must be new, fresh and full of sparkle.
When I was a child I played with paper dolls, balls, hide and seek, Chutes and Ladders. All of the toys my grandson has includes lights and sounds. The plastic laptop says the alphabet, the cell phone says “Hello Friend”, Winnie the Pooh walks and talks, the farmer and his slow moving wagon sings and each of the 4 animals in the wagon say their sound… “Moo, Arrf, Baaa, Meeow”. To keep him still while I try to change his diaper, I hand him my cell phone. I only need 90 seconds to change him but in that time, his tiny fingers are glued to one number … and my speed dial is in action.
The educational system needs to change and keep pace with the technological revolution. Our kids and grandkids are fine-tuned to learn but in a different context from the classroom and a lecture hall. What are the colleges doing to prepare for the new wave of kids?