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higher education

Reaching Out From The Academic Grove

Tom Jacobson's picture

I am pleased to be able to return to blogging in this space after a rather extended stint in the land of higher education administration, and am welcoming a re-immersion in matters related to using communication to help facilitate development efforts.  One such matter on my mind following the administrative assignment is the relative lack of contact between academics that study development and practitioners who actually do development work. 

The gap is widely noted anecdotally, and a recent study confirms the anecdotes. The Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication recently reported a study, conducted for BBC Media Action, on the reach and impact of Media Action’s work globally. One of their findings is that the world of practitioners underutilizes help that is available from academia: “…practitioners are less likely than other development stakeholders to consult academic research on the media…,” and “the policy community involved in funding media programs makes only moderate use of available research and evidence.” Of course, it goes both ways. Promotion up the academic ladder tends to reward theoretical inquiry regardless of real world impact.  And, thus, much research tends to be more useful theoretically than practically. Furthermore, for reasons there isn’t time to review here, the considerable number of communication research graduate programs that include development studies has atrophied in recent decades.

The "Education Tsunami" and How "weDevelop"

Tanya Gupta's picture

Why is this generation experiencing a “tsunami” in higher education? (as coined by President of Stanford, John L. Hennessy and then popularized by writer David Brooks) We think it may be because (thanks to technology) there has been an elemental shift in power from the education providers to the beneficiaries.  An empowered user has the ability to demand how education is delivered and even change the traditional model of education.  Students are far more empowered now as there is an excess of information available, faculty are no longer indispensable founts of knowledge. Students are looking for an outcome-oriented education (e.g. that result in skills or a job).  Education can be delivered to thousands using broadband networks and home computing technology.  As the economy weakens, non-traditional students are demanding education that is flexible in terms of timing, payment, knowledge and skills.  Tech savvy students want technology intensive education delivered in bits and not necessarily a semester long course.  This has created a situation where an empowered beneficiary (of education) is setting the terms, demanding flexibility and along with education start-ups/newcomers are helping create new modes of education delivery and educational content.

The Future of Education: What Happens to Accreditation Under an Open Education Model?

Tanya Gupta's picture

In our last blog The Future of Education: Amazon or an eBay Model? "Anonymous" posted an excellent question:

"Very insightful, and I agree with most of the premises. The only one that stands out is the accreditation/social validation angle. IIT or Harvard graduate has a validation angle to employers, which will not go away for top institutions".

We had the exact same comment from a colleague on the blog recently and this blog summarizes some views on the subject:

The Future of Education: Amazon or an eBay Model?

Tanya Gupta's picture

In a Washington Post article that Dr. Qasem and I wrote entitled “The Arab Spring of Higher Education,” we spoke of the Amazon model and the eBay model of higher education. Here we elaborate on these two models and talk about what education will look like in the future.

First, let’s look at some US trends in higher education:

  1. Tuition costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for college students.  President Obama in his Michigan address asked colleges to think of ways to make education cheaper and more accessible.  Large capital investments and fixed costs make it difficult for colleges to cut their expenses drastically
  2. College degrees are unaffordable for many and even so, do not guarantee a job.  There is a demand for many prospective students is to learn materials and skills that would help them get a job
  3. Free availability of multimedia tools, broadband access, differentiated student base, demand for flexibility and modularized education, and technologically empowered end-users has created an environment where a demand for 24/7 education can be fulfilled by individuals or groups of individuals