Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century

Over the last year, I have increasingly heard about a paradigm shift occurring in higher education, to what I call University 2.0 (or U2.0 for short). As Morton Egol states in the most recent issue of Educause Review, “The Industrial Age model of education, with its teacher-directed, lecture-based system, is obsolete.”

What is U2.0 and how does it differ from the previous paradigm? Let’s start by discussing what it’s not. U2.0 is not primarily about instructional technology, though IT will play a prominent role. U2.0 does not primarily involve changes in course content. Nor does it involve changes in the true values of academia: The primary purpose of education, especially liberal education, is to learn how to think for oneself. A liberal education provides the tools for lifelong learning, not merely preparation for a career (though it does that very well also). Education is about critical inquiry, especially the process of discovery itself, where knowledge is pursued for its on sake.

What U2.0 does involve is changes in the nature of interaction between teachers and students. For example, Carole Barone describes U2.0 as “a fundamental change in well-established assumptions regarding how faculty teach and how students learn.” Students will have more responsibility for their own learning but also more power to accomplish it. Learners will influence the design of content and pedagogy based on their individual preferences and needs. Students will be seen as creators (or co-creators) of knowledge, not merely recipients of it. The role of the class session and the classroom will change, as will the nature of texts. Learning will occur more collaboratively. Assessment will take a more prominent role. The power of technology will enable “deeper learning.” I plan to explore each of these ideas in future postings.

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3 Responses to Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century

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