Friday, March 26, 2010

Pricing Point Challenges in University Education

I note with interest that Clark Aldrich in his latest Blog posting is suggesting that it may well be possible in the foreseeable future to obtain the most popular university qualification (MBA) for under $1000US.
Aldrich's argues that the proliferation on reliable online content, social networking technologies and critically, sophisticated business gaming simulations will combine to make the $1K MBA a reality, particularly for business managers in emerging economies.  He argues that the depth and efficiencies (4X) of learning possible using simulations and serious games makes low-cost certification a possibility.
Could this also be the case in other disciplines? 

There are serious implications here for Government Universities across the world who have targeted international students from emerging economies and now rely on this income to top up their funding.

Since 2001 Marc Prensky has been suggesting than gaming and simulation would eventually become an integral part of schooling, so are there parallels her with the $1K MBA?  
School systems, like universities are expensive to run in their current format and government school funding always seems to struggle to keep up with the demand.  If as Aldrich is suggesting, online content, social networking technology together with simulation and gaming will transform university education, what might what we now call schooling, actually look like?

What would the buildings look like? What would the hours of learning be? What would be the role of teachers?  Would this lead to less teachers? Would subject design, development and delivery be centralised (Nationally or Internationally?).  Would children in remote communities finally have a level playing field in terms of learning opportunities?

Definitely food for thought, although not palatable to all! 

All images courtesy of Flickr.


Johanna said...

Hello Scot,
I think reducing the cost of education while improving the learning experience and accessibility has to be a good thing. When I worked at a high school in the UK 8 years ago, there was talk of live on-line learning. The teacher is recorded and appears on a small screen on the student's monitors. The interactive whiteboard covered most of the monitor, with a forum text box at the bottom. Teacher aides would supervise the rooms and the teacher could interact with all the student's questions as the lesson proceeded. I'm not sure this is the best way to engage children, but as we learn how we learn, this method of teaching can work.

In relation to the MBA, I think online learning programs with integral social networks with simulations/gaming as well would allow a process focused learner-centred, authentic experience. Simulations are great for integrating knowledge by 'doing', also giving us the skills to problem solve, evaluate, review and create. It's an amazing thought.

To imagine the classroom of the future with areas to plug in to the virtual learning experience, I see some multiple and some individual. In the remote area you can stand next to someone on screen, but be 13,000 miles away - why not sit next to someone in the real world and enjoy collaborative learning on two levels. Hours of schooling would be 24hrs! Not just due to time zones, but because of the difference in learners whether cultural, social or physical.

I can understand the fear of change and the assumption that there would be fewer teachers, but I do not agree. Teachers may need to manage knowledge and facilitate learning, design learning experience and continue the development of learnig through their own learning journey. Technology is always changing and so must we.

Just a note at the end to say the first image that popped into my head when imaging education buildings of the future was low lighting, rounded ergonomic chairs in various shades of blue. What this means, maybe learning areas need to feel more comfortable to improve my learning experience?!

Thanks for listening,
GDLT (Primary FLEX)

Scot said...

Hi Johanna,

Thanks for your thoughtful reflections in how a more useful blended approach to learning could be achieved.

Kind regards,