Liberal Education Today:

Archived Blog

Discussing the future of liberal education: initial thoughts from AAC&U

A large group of faculty and administrators from many campuses discussed the future of liberal education yesterday afternoon.  A session in the 2010 Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) conference, “Questioning The Future Of Liberal Education,” staged a series of energetic conversations.

The first piece of the session asked participants to contribute their initial thoughts on what comes next for liberal education, writing questions on cards.  What follows is a first transcription of those cards, organized slightly by apparent topics.

PUBLIC ARENA

How can we better engage the public in a more meaningful discussion about the crisis in liberal education?

How can liberal education by democratized?

Should we surrender the word “liberal”?

With the political process (re: 50%+ of the population doesn’t believe in evolution) eventually (re: soon) take away any support for liberal education (i.e., critical thinking)??? [copied]

Will institutions of higher education develop an acceptable (to funding authorities) assessment practice before one is imposed? [copied]

LEARNING

How…

-mechanisms

-who will do it                                                                    reward structures

…will the findings in neuroscience and cognition about how people learn be implemented in the curriculum?

MONEY

The (usually) four year residency by young adults on college and university campuses has been an important element in the social and emotional maturation process as has been the liberal education they receive there.  Is this model no longer fiscally sustainable? Can we do without it? What will replace it?

Will liberal education in its 4-year, residential, general ed and major form continue to be a viable form? / Will it become even more than it presently is the exclusive province of an elite set of extremely well-endowed and prestigious colleagues and universities?

With the political process (re: 50%+ of the population doesn’t believe in evolution) eventually (re: soon) take away any support for liberal education (i.e., critical thinking)??? [copied]

What is the “competitive advantage” for schools offering an effective liberal education in the higher education marketplace and how can we best exploit this advantage?

Obvious question/ Is liberal education as offered in the small liberal arts college affordable and sustainable?

Will students and families continue to be able to afford a 4year college learning experience? (Will they be able to afford not to get this sort of broad-based learning?)

Will institutions of higher education develop an acceptable (to funding authorities) assessment practice before one is imposed?

At what point do you think people will refuse to pay the price?

Will institutions of higher education develop an acceptable (to funding authorities) assessment practice before one is imposed? [copied]

TECHNOLOGY AND CHANGE

How will 21st c. technology change liberal education? Can it survive?

What will textbooks look like in the future? (I’m a scientist)

Individual items

  • How best might we integrate reasoning and performing, that is, the liberal arts and professions education? (education in the professions)
  • Will bright young people still want to join the faculty 25 years from now?
  • How might colleges and universities more effectively communicate their liberal education goals to public school systems to that they might better prepare young people for a humanizing life of learning, rather than the dumb[ed]-down, test-driven processes they are expanding?
  • To what extent do the values of liberal education necessitate students playing a genuine role in institutional decision making?
  • PACE OF CHANGE Your list of questions is great, but we’ve been having these conversations for 20+ years now.  I’m more and more discouraged about the possibility of real change.  Do you have any reason to expect these changes to materialize?

We will blog further notes and reflections here.  Comments are, as ever, deeply appreciated.

From the session’s description:

What significant questions are not being asked (let alone answered) in higher education today?  This session invites participants to discuss overlooked but essential questions about purposes, priorities and possibilities.  The session emerges from an August gathering of creative people from diverse institutions who occupy an array of roles in academic affairs, information technology, and student life. Together we aim to question and imagine the future of high-impact, sustainable liberal education in a dramatically changing world.

(Many thanks to John Ottenhoff and Peter Felten for facilitating this round)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 23, 2010 at 7:23 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Communications · Tagged with: , ,

White House extends to mobile devices

Mobile devices are the next digital field for this White House to explore.  First, it has released an app for the iPhone and Touch.  Second, a mobile Website is in preparation, http://mobile.WhiteHouse.gov.

Mobile internet access is an important way Americans are staying informed.  Mobile web usage grew over 100% in the last year in the United States and higher worldwide.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 20, 2010 at 5:55 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Communications · Tagged with: ,

University bans new digital music service

A popular European Web music service has been blocked by a leading university this week.  Oxford blocked Spotify due to bandwidth issues.  OU also sees Spotify as a peer-to-peer service.

Spotify is not yet available in the United States.

(via TechCrunch)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 18, 2010 at 11:03 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support

Governments caution on Internet Explorer

Two European governments have warned users about security problems with the Internet Explorer Web browser.  France and Germany have each issued statements after the high-profile Gmail hack, allegedly sponsored by the Chinese government, and working through Internet Explorer.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 18, 2010 at 10:53 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support · Tagged with: 

Campus Kindles blocked by disability challenges

What are the usability limits of e-readers? Several American campuses have backed away from using the Kindle device, because of legal challenges concerning disabilities.

Two organizations representing the visually impaired — the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind – had sued after the program was first announced, citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While the Kindle’s text-to-speech ability helped with texts, it did not help visually impaired students navigate among those texts:

The Kindle used in the pilot program has a text-to-speech function, but the device’s menu does not — meaning it’s not possible for blind students to navigate electronic textbooks.

Timeline:

The agreement takes effect once the upcoming spring semester ends.

(thanks to Frank Fulchiero)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support · Tagged with: , , ,

Medical professionals using Twitter

How can the life sciences use social media?  This article explores how oncologists developed Twitter practices.

They include:

  • Disseminating, correcting, expanding, gathering information
  • Conference reporting and discussion
  • Communicating with patients
  • Advocacy
  • Monitoring what is said about your institution
Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Best Practices, Communications · Tagged with: ,

Locative media from Harvard

Harvard has launched a locative media project with mobile service provider Foursquare.  Students play a game of locating physical items and locations on the university grounds, then checking in with mobile devices.

Foursquare_Harvard

The primary idea behind the collaboration is to encourage students to connect more with friends and professors through location-based game play, as well as to inspire campus visitors to explore the grounds and uncover tips or share to-dos.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Communications · Tagged with: 

Microsoft and HP launch cloud computing collaboration

Microsoft and HP announced a cloud computing collaboration this week.   The initiative costs $250 million and will last three years, covering a variety of cloud topics: security, reliability, etc.

A buzzword for 2009, cloud computing continues to grow in importance as 2010 begins.

(via Ars Technica)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 14, 2010 at 10:31 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support · Tagged with: , ,

Best practices for assignments with clickers

What are the best ways to create assignments using clickers (or “personal response systems”)? Derek Bruff, author of the book on teaching with clickers, offers a generous helping of resources.

Previous NITLE blog posts on clickers can be found here.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Best Practices · Tagged with: , ,

Academic apps for ordinary mobile phones

A new academic project to build content for mobile phones targets ordinary, non-smart devices.  The University of North Carolina at Wilmington develops for baseline devices, using text.

The rationale for focusing on generic devices, rather than smartphones, came about after a survey of the student body, and with an eye towards equity.

UNCWMr. Vetter said his team became interested in developing an applications suite about two years ago and conducted a student survey. It found that about 88 percent of respondents couldn’t afford a “smart phone” capable of downloading advanced applications.

Functions “include grade retrieval, text responses to financial-aid questions, movie listings, shuttle-bus locations, and menu information from a local cafe.”

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
Posted on January 13, 2010 at 8:37 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support · Tagged with: ,