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History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education

Duke University via Coursera

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Overview

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Welcome!  This course is designed for anyone concerned with the best ways of learning and thriving in the world we live in now.  It's for students, teachers, professors, researchers, administrators, policy makers, business leaders, job counselors and recruiters, parents, and lifelong learners around the globe.  The full,  whimsical name of the class is: “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education: Or, How We Can Unlearn Our Old Patterns and Relearn for a Happier, More Productive, Ethical, and Socially-Engaged Future.”  That subtitle is inspired by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen who has said that "all education is vocational" in the sense that it is our job, as educators, to help train people for the vocation of leading better lives. 

Are we fulfilling that educational objective, from kindergarten to professional school?  Or are we training students with the methods, philosophy, and metrics designed for the Fordist era of the Model T?  Since 1993, when scientists made the Internet widely available, our lives, our work, our occupations, our culture, and our entertainments have changed tremendously.  Far too little has changed inside our educational institutions, in the US and internationally, to prepare us for the demands, problems, restrictions, obstacles,  responsibilities, and possibilities of living in the world we inhabit outside of school.  This course addresses one key question:  How can we all, together, work to redesign higher education for our future... not for someone else’s past?

Bonus: Students enrolled in this Coursera course will also be invited to many onsite and online events, workshops, and conferences offered by more than fifty learning institutions around the world, as part of an initiative on Shaping the Future of Higher Education.


Syllabus

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how and why we inherited the Industrial Age educational systems.
  • Think deeply about the requirements of the world we live in now.
  • Discover new ideas, methods, competencies, and subject matter.
  • Share our pathways to successful innovation with others around the world. Together, we can change schools, classrooms, institutions, learning--and maybe ourselves!  

WEEK ONE - January 27, 2014
Guiding Principles and Driving Concepts - Let’s Get Started

This week we will think about the uses of history: learning how and why educational institutions were constructed in the past helps us think about what we need now, in order to begin to shape a different future of education in order to help shape a more just future for all.

WEEK TWO - February 3, 2014
The iPod Experiment: Or, Learning vs. Education

Duke University’s iPod experiment became international news.  Why?  What happens when students are in charge?  What happens when education begins at a place where no one (not even the instructor) knows the answer in advance? What if the actual learning cannot be tested or assessed by the usual methods of higher education? What if learning is also about trying to improve the status quo?  This week we will look at diverse histories and theories of education and learning.

WEEK THREE - February 10, 2014
Teaching Like It’s 1992    

The World changed on April 22, 1993, when the scientists at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications released the Internet and the World Wide Web to the general public.  From then on, anyone with access to an Internet connection could communicate  to anyone else with an Internet connection.  No editor or publisher provides a safety net now and, at the same time, our data can be hacked, our privacy invaded.  The digital world we live in now comes with tremendous responsibilities and opportunity--and yet it comes with real inequalities, perils, and obstacles too.  Does our educational system prepare us for these challenges?

WEEK FOUR - February 17, 2014
Welcome to the Future: 10 Ways to Change the Paradigm of Higher Education

We will now be looking at different principles, methods and metrics for redesigning an innovative form of learning that helps us all navigate the complexities of the world we inhabit outside of school.  This week we focus specifically on innovations to the curriculum.

WEEK FIVE - February 24, 2014
Innovations in Pedagogy (Methods) and Assessment

This week we will focus on innovations in pedagogy (the methods for learning) and assessment.  How you teach is what you teach.  And, we need to think deeply about what we value and make sure what we value is what we count.    

WEEK SIX - March 3, 2014
How to Make Institutional Change
 
Even if we make changes in our personal learning and teaching methods, we still have to work mostly within institutions of learning.  Institutional change can be difficult; it takes patience, strategy, and allies. This week offers (and also invites) ideas about what we can do together. It makes a powerful argument that we all need to advocate (in any country) for higher education and shows how, in the U.S., the decline in support for public education has contributed to income inequality and hurt all our future.  This week includes interviews with inspiring people who have worked together to make successful change happen in society ad in education, against odds.  

Conclusion: Thank you for joining this movement on behalf of educational innovation and reform!  This is not the end.  It’s the beginning.  Where will we do from here? Let’s get started! 

Taught by

Cathy Davidson

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