The Future of Higher Education

If you’ve talked to me recently about Higher Education (or just education in general), you know where I stand with it.  To boil it down into simple terms, I think colleges are going to be forced to change or they will be forced to not exist.

Of course, I’m not talking about the Harvard’s or the Stanford’s of the world.  They’ll be around well after I’m gone.  But smaller, less exclusive schools, I’m not so sure about.

I mean, look at the landscape of education right now.  More and more classes are going online.  More and more people are going to community college (1, because it’s cheaper and 2, because it costs less).  There is more and more evidence that our education system is wrong for what we want to produce (we don’t want to be producing factory workers anymore and we are in grave danger of not having enough skilled labor to do the basic things that we rely on others for now).

I just read an article in The Chronicle about the coming personalization of education.  But I think it’s going to be more than that.  At some point in the very near future, the rising cost of college is going to become a big issue, or at least give people pause to think about other options.  Many people say that a college degree is what a high school degree used to be.  I tend to think that instead of everyone now needing PhD’s to get ahead, things are going to change (or, the US will stop producing things and our economy will go into the tank, but hey, we’ll have really educated people!).

I may be all gloom and doom for the “University”, but I feel that they better be nimble or risk becoming phased out.

What caused this reaction, and how I generally feel about higher education can be found from this Huffington Post article: Whither the University.

Is Wii Good Exercise?

Not that this is surprising to me, but I would hope that not many people “work out” with the Wii and think that they’ve gotten a good workout for the day (unless you are insane and work up a huge sweat).

Linkage

I am definitely on board with the Wii idea of actually making people move when they play games.  As long as you aren’t just flicking your wrist to mimic actual movement, playing some of the Wii sports is a lot of fun.

But if you are getting yourself up off the couch and doing something, it’s better than nothing.  I just hope that this isn’t you sole means of exercise.

High School & College Reunions: Not as Painful as they once were?

Facebook

“So what have you been up to for the past ten years?”

I love going to reunions.  My family has one every year.  I even go to my college reunion on off years (i.e. not on the 5’s or 10’s).  In fact, we just had my high school reunion this past weekend.  It is just a lot of fun to see people whom you aren’t really that close to and get an update on how they are doing.

But I hate the “What have you been up to?” question.  I realize the need to find some sort of common ground, but many people don’t really know when to stop talking.  I don’t mean this in a bad way, as if I can’t handle when people keep talking; however, it is kind of rude to stop a story in the middle just because I want to move on.  There are a select few that I really want to know how life is and what is going on.  I just want a quick summary for most people.  If I am interested, I’ll ask follow up questions.

There was a great shirt idea floating around that my best friend and I talked about beforehand.  It would be a plain shirt with 4 lines.  On one line would be your name.  Another line would be where you live.  A third line would be your job.  And a fourth line would be “Other”.  That last line could be used for “I have a 2 year old child” or I ride motorcycles for fun”.  This would be just something to eliminate the awkward “getting to know you” stage.

New Media

But this is the beauty of Facebook.

Because many of the people at reunions may be your friend on facebook, you might have checked out their page and had a general idea of what they were up to.  It eliminates some of the awkward, “where are you now?” conversations and people are familiar with what others are up to far faster than they would have been 10 or 15 years ago.

One of the people who I talked to this weekend said that she didn’t look at her yearbook before the reunion.  I’ll be honest, I glanced at it, but I didn’t go on a full out study session with it.  I didn’t need to.  75% of the people who showed up are people who I would have known or just had to get a quick refresher on who they were on Facebook.  The downward trend of yearbooks are a whole other topic all together, but hopefully you can see why.  Facebook provides a yearbook type setting, where your page can be constantly updated.  Your peers can see what you are up to NOW, and you can more easily have a jumping off point in conversations.

So instead of those clunky catch up conversations, you can jump right in.  The reunions I have been to have been a blast, and new media has played a part in making it so.

The Blog: Why?

090802-RSSI’ve been out of High School for ten years now.  My reunion is next weekend, actually.  So that means that this fall is the 10 year anniversary of starting my first blog.  In fact, I don’t even know if they called them “Blogs” back then.

I did everything by hand, including creating and maintaining the site.  Visually, it was nothing to shout about, but it got the job done.  It certainly wasn’t as clean and nice looking as this format.

Now that technology has improved, everyone seems to be connected to the internet.  Cell phones have the ability to bring up the internet wherever you are.  A friend of mine is currently camping for the weekend.  One would think that camping would mean being shut off from the world.  Nope.  She has an iPhone and has posted some pictures to Facebook.  It’s a much different world that we live in then that of 10 years ago (Speaking of… this page is actually viewable on mobile devices).

So why start up again?

  • To share my ideas and thoughts with the world on my own little electronic platform (no matter how small it may be).
  • To connect to other people and have them connect with me.
  • To have a better command of what pops up when someone does a search for me.

I want my brain to do more active thinking rather than passive thinking.  I have long thought that spending time on the internet was a better use of time than watching television.  But only recently has it really occurred to me about how much time I lose to random information gathering.  If I don’t use the information that I am getting, then, what’s the point?