Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is College Necessary in a Knowledge-Drenched World?

Is College Necessary in a Knowledge-Drenched World?

9/17/2008   By Trent Batson

A friend told me recently that people are asking him why learners, in this age, need to ever attend college to become educated. This question undoubtedly has occurred to all educators, and to many parents who are paying tuition. There is perhaps no more raw-edged question than this in all of higher education: Have we educators become obsolete?If we are considering only the learning value of higher education institutions, and not the developmental life-transition value, the list of unique opportunities for learning that higher education offers seems to have shrunk in the past few years.One gold mine that distinguished higher education institutions in previous decades, the library and its collections, seems to have deflated in its traditional value. And, who needs large lecture halls to learn? Who needs a sound studio or post-production facilities when you can have them on your laptop? Who needs an art studio if you create your composition on your laptop? If high-end lab equipment or scientific simulation software is also available via the Web, why do you need to visit a campus to run an experiment? And why teach writing in a classroom where you have to talk when you could teach it on the Web where you have to, uh, write? Maybe the question "Why attend college at all?" is suddenly a serious question.
Is College Necessary in a Knowledge-Drenched World?
Cross Posted from

I have tried to impress upon my colleagues here at the university and with my colleagues in my professional association - We don't sell information anymore.  We provide degrees and continuing education units.  If that is the paradigm then you can give away the information (e.g., podcasts, vidcasts, online documents) but recoup the expense through assessment leading to degree or certificates.  At some point degrees don't matter as much as results but they are important because they represent that you have completed something (and hopefully know something).  If the paradigm I suggest was actually today's paradigm how would education be different?  Better?  Worse? Unsustainable?  Thriving?  Collaborative?

One thing to keep in mind - students can always buy the textbooks without taking the class.  So why do they come to class?  Hopefully it is to be in an environment where they can learn better then if they attempted the process on their own.

Why go to the gym?  Can't you get your own treadmill?  Weights?  Yes.  But you go to the gym to get direction from someone who can help you make sense of the information you have available to you.  This might be the niche college have (and always have had).  Just my view from both sides.  Enjoy!
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