Opening the Conversation to a Larger Group

Suppose a group of faculty and staff was interested in facilitating a conversation on what University 2.0 might look like? Suppose we wanted to include three types of folks in the conversation:

* those folks already on board,
* those who are open to considering this but who tend to be more traditional in their teaching approach, and
* those who don’t see any reason for change.

How might we facilitate a conversation like this? What would be the best format or venue? What issues should be included in the discussion?

I’m particularly interested in what people outside of my institution can suggest. Can you help here?

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2 Responses to Opening the Conversation to a Larger Group

  1. Isaac says:

    I’m pretty intrigued by your ideas on U2.0. I am surprised however, that you seem to have overlooked one group that might be very interested in facilitating the change: the students themselves.

    I see two arguments why the students role might be marginal or non-existent. First, the students in the aggregate probably won’t get too involved, owing either to apathy, pessimism, or more pressing issues. Second, the real impetus for change in the institution of the western university, it could be argued, comes from the provision of a service (the evolved teaching methods of U2.0), which is in turn perceived on the demand side as a service which is superior to the current pedagogical structure. Since current students have already made their commitment and bought into the status quo, their influence is limited.

    To the first retort, I would argue that it only requires a small minority of students to bring substantial change. For instance, the living wage campaign at Mary Washington was successful thanks to the efforts of an insignificant number of students, who were in turn tacitly supported by the vast majority of the student body (and, it could be argued, the tacit support of the faculty and administration underlings). The administration agreed to make substantial changes in the face of the pressures exerted by the factions involved (the core of the LWC, the Bullet editorial staff, attention of the local media, and the aforementioned tacit support). I think a campain with the ambition of producing a more interactive learning atmosphere, especially one led by students, would be so positive in the eyes of every observer, it would be impossible for the administration to refuse to actively pursue such changes. Can you imagine the bad press a school would get for saying “No we won’t allow the students to learn as much as they want to” ?

    To the second retort, I would say what is vital is that the current students create such a group as I described in the previous paragraph. A student bloc (call it a student union, perhaps) that is actively engaged in making substantive changes in the pedagogy gives current students a stake in their education and also provides an additional incentive for prospective students who are interested in an active learning process to apply to this particular school.

    In sum, I think that an important first step is convincing students with the time, drive, and resources to engage actively in the conversation you discuss in this entry. Additionally, I think that if and when faculty observe this active interest amongst their students, they too will be more interested in joining the conversation and facilitating the necessary changes.

  2. Pingback: Reflecting on Education: The Job of Student « Philosonomics

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