Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dr. Qasim Shaikh on future Universities

Very impressive talk from Dr. Qasim Shaikh. His opinion on changing university's culture to more knowledge based scalable academic institutions that open opportunities for innovation is really the future. This is also suggested by Don Norman in his essay "Technology and the rise of for profit university" in which he talks that how ICT is going to change the face of Universities. style of teaching, learning pedagogy and business model. He suggests that traditional universities suffer a number of serious defects, such as teaching is concerned only as the primary function and faculty costs are high. These universities are very labor intensive, for the style of teaching has hardly changed in the past 1,000 years, with the most important innovation being perhaps the invention of the blackboard some 200 years ago.

Traditional universities are geared around full-time students who live close by. Working adults have to struggle to fit night and evening courses into their crowded lives, usually at local teaching colleges, for the more established universities seldom make concessions to the struggles of those who must work, or who cannot afford the costs, or who don't live within convenient distance. The result is a system that is expensive (labor intensive), elitist (difficult and ill-suited entrance requirements), and aimed at certain parameters of quality.

The opportunity for innovative new educational movements seems clear. Course material of all the leading Universities are available online and can be accessed by any, no matter where they live or what time they access. Students learn throughout their lives, and use more problem based or case based approached to solve a problem. They learn at their own convenience and want to be less constrained by any particular time frame. Let some courses be a week long, others a year. Let some require practice and experiment. Let others be mostly reading and writing. Rigorously monitor the quality of teaching; make the quality of instruction paramount.

This will dramatically change underlying rationale for the university, to say nothing of the cost structure. Professors may spend most of their time seeking knowledge, and students learning what is required, not what is taught!

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