I have had a serendipitous few days that made me realize something that for some reason had not occurred to me: if I care to revamp education in Egypt, I need not limit myself to working with school teachers and university faculty: I could actually work with students directly!!! I always thought working through teachers was a good way to go, and it is, because it increases my reach, but that should not exclude the option of working with students as well! And I have been doing too little of that. It is time to change. It is time to get closer to the student perspective and work with creative young minds – how could I have missed doing that? I now realize I was missing it (emotionally speaking) so much!
Our university is working on strategy for the next five years or so, and being on taskforces that work on this, and attending sessions of what other taskforces are doing,.. And then doing all that in the midst of taking Cathy Davidson’s MOOC on the history and future of higher education… Then today meeting with a student who is inspired to radicalize education for the better of learning and the community – I am inspired to do more. To think beyond whatever imaginary boxes and structures I have been putting for myself and think beyond (lots of this inspired by rhizo14 of course, which will continue to inspire me for years, i think. Rhizo14 folks will see the influence of it here for sure). I am also at the same time planning an Open Access week at my institution, and revising a couple of articles on issues related to all this so lots of ideas coming together in my muddled mind.
So below is my first draft for this week’s futureed assignment, which asked us to imagine a new university and what kind of values, etc., we would like it to have. (I am deliberately ignoring the Coursera honor code and posting the assignment up on my blog to gather feedback – the usefulness of that goes way BEYOND the arbitrary honor code of Coursera anyway):
MISSION STATEMENT: to support every learner to become more than they ever imagined they could be, working interdependently with peers, faculty and the local and global community to make all university learning meaningful.
MOST IMPORTANT VALUES/SKILLS
1. Capacity to embrace uncertainty and find creative ways to solve problems
2. Capacity to work interdependently, to become interdependent responsible citizens of one’s own country and the world
3. The value of striving to make your actions and work contribute to the public good with a social justice orientation
STRUCTURE OF INSTITITION:
1. Student-created courses (inspired by the Duke iPod project) where students come up with interdisciplinary ideas for courses they would like to see, and find the faculty member(s) who can help design and facilitate these courses.
2. Authentic/sustainable assessments: all or most assessments need to have value beyond the classroom. No research papers for the teachers’ eyes only, to be unused. Every project or paper needs to connect with some real-life external community and the output of it to be shared with or even used by the community. The output itself may involve action by the students working with a community. Assessment involves the community, not just teachers/students.
3. All learning can be counted for credit (or badges, as in this week’s topic). Learning need not all take place in a classroom formal setting. Any learning that occurs outside e.g. Community service, internships, informal travel experiences can count. To try to make this into valuable learning, students can create ePortfolios reflecting on their learning in each of these experiences.
4. Group mentoring: students work throughout the college years with a slightly older peer and a a faculty member, to brainstorm ways of enhancing their learning in college.
I am looking forward to becoming inspired by other people’s ideas about this assignment. I don’t have time to go to the futureed forums this week but at least I will check out what is on twitter and what I end up peer reviewing. But am more interested in what students think, and how they would envision things. There is, however a book I recently reviewed that has good examples of universities doing some of what I am proposing here:Cultivating Inquiry-Driven Learners: A College Education for the Twenty-First Century
I am inspired to create a selected topics course about re-imagining higher education, to invite radical teachers and students to share their visions and to imagine what might actually be possible. So much potential here!
Update: there was also a #moocmooc chat Feb 26, storify here.