This is sort of a follow-on to yesterday’s post about IT issues in academia. As we’ve posited many times before, the rise of on-line collaboration technology and the trend for prestigious institutions of higher learning to release video lectures of their best faculty for little or no cost is putting public higher education in a real bind. In the face of such stiff competition, colleges and universities have to ensure that they continue to offer something of value to students. What could that possibly be?
Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, James M. Lang, an associate professor of English at Assumption College has some ideas:
Traditional college campuses need to capitalize more effectively on the facts that they are a physical presence within a natural environment; that their presence plays host to many people working and living together in myriad formal and informal communities; that those communities are driven by educational, philosophical, economic, and sociological factors; and that those factors can be analyzed, understood, argued about, performed, and represented through the lens of just about every discipline under the sun. . . .
What I am proposing is a “grounded campus” and a “grounded curriculum”—a radical reimagining of the campus and the town as a laboratory for more and more experiments in teaching and learning. Perhaps the notion of a laboratory is too limiting, since the fullest vision of my proposal includes learning experiences in which students not only study, explore, and represent their grounded environments but also make changes in them. I am proposing that we think of the campus as a laboratory in which we have the option to rebuild the lab itself if we so choose.
Interesting stuff. You can read the post (and the many reactions to it) here.