How to save Higher Education?

What should we do to save Higher Education?

I wonder if we could use energy as a metaphor to Higher Education.  Can we save energy (Higher Education) using a behavioral approach?  Rather than telling people how much they could save by investing in education, or what benefits they could have in receiving Higher Education, could we compare how much we could save as compared to our neighbor in terms of the expense (cost) we could save by having Higher Education?

The need of intellectual and scholastic development, not just skills

I am all for the intellectual development, creative, critical thinking skills and scientific mindset embedded in degrees courses offered by Higher Education institutions.

I still believe in degrees offered by Universities to be of great education values to students, and so Higher Education is here to stay.   As compared to Vocational Education and Training, Higher Education calls for a “higher” order education and learning which requires more than the practical and vocational skills, and are challenging people to further their advancement in the creation of new and emergent knowledge and research capability, so as to tackle more difficult and complex wicked problems in the world.

It is overly simplistic and short sighted to provide industry and businesses with a pool of “skilled” labors who could competently do the existing work only.  The world requires a futuristic sets of literacies and competencies where jobs and careers are yet to be created and established.

So, my question is:  Is MOOC the answer to these problems and challenges?

I don’t have the answer.

Reflection on Higher Education, Vocational Education and Training and Online Education

Here is Sebastian Thrun’s reflection on Online Education

The approach adopted by Udacity is highlighted in this How it works.

What do I think?

This approach towards education seems to align more with the Vocational Education and Training – with learning as doing, more pragmatic and practical based approach sort of education and training.

There are some significant differences between Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training.  Higher Education seems to align more with the provision of a broad range of skills and contemporary knowledge as offered in Universities, though Vocational Education and Training relates more to the provision of skills and competencies so learners are ready for work or be more productive and skillful at work.

1.  The purpose of education is to engage with the world, and to prepare the learners to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive.  And one of the most important purposes of education is learning how to learn.  Learn globally and act locally, and be connected to the international communities.

2. The purpose of vocational education and training is to deliver a productive and highly skilled workforce.

Learning by doing is a practical way to achieve goals set in learning, and would surely be easily adopted when those skills set are prescriptive and pre-determined by both authorities, businesses, employers, administrators and educators.  The challenge nowadays is that such prescriptive competency often goes outdated within a few years, as Sebastian has pointed out, in particular with the computer, ICT, and Artificial Intelligence industry.  If that is the case, how would one continue to keep abreast of the current knowledge and information trends, and acquire the skills needed to perform at work?

What are the options available to accomplish those education and learning goals related to such knowledge and skills development?  Is life-long learning skills a part of any education curriculum?  Is MOOC part of such a curriculum?  What are the merits and demerits with the use of MOOCs in Higher  Education and Vocational Education and Training?