Wanted: Long-Term Thinking about Technology in Education

This article was posted online by Scientific American on September 16. I am not posting the link to it because you have to subscribe to the magazine to read it online. I will briefly summarize the main points. The author, Ben Nelson, says that technologies are changing so fast no one can keep up with them, but we have to keep on trying, and need to try to figure out which ones will serve our goals for advanced education. He goes on to say that reacting too quickly is as bad as reacting to slowly.

Nelson says higher learning has three main objectives: knowledge dissemination, intellectual development, and experiential growth, or mental maturation. He says that the first function has traditionally been the province of classroom lecture halls, but mentions that some institutions are trying out MOOCS. He also talks about how online institutions such as the Western Governors University are demonstrating a viable alternative to the traditional lecture method. Under the second item, intellectual development, he mentions the scaffolded curriculum Minerva Schools the Keck Graduate Institute in San Francisco, which teaches a core set of concepts and exercises them through every course it offers.
As for personal development through experiential learning, Nelson says this is the big challenge for educational technology. He says today’s technologies should make it possible for a student to use the world as his or her campus, but does not elaborate on this idea. He ends with the question: What will universities look like in 2025?

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