Re-thinking education

A few days ago I wrote about Online Learning (Apr. 13, 2020). There’s no doubt you can learn on the Internet. Good quality stuff, if you search it out.

Here’s an article that suggests targeted learning might someday replace university degrees. “Could targeted, bite-sized chunks of education help you get a job?”

This particular article focuses on the rising cost of education, and whether online courses and certificate programs could replace a university degree. Or maybe not replace, just supplement.

This isn’t a new idea. I think it must have been around since the early days of the Internet. Hey look, here’s something that might happen. Easy futurism.

Now the landscape has been transformed, just in the two months since this article was written. Here in Colorado we’re all in COVID-19 lockdown. Schools are closed; replaced in various ways by online instruction.

It’s a new world, both for school and for work. It was totally impossible, so they said, to let people work at home. Until it had to be done to keep employers in business. Now it’s magically possible.

I tease my nephew that his education is over. He’ll never get further than 9th grade. It’ll be digging ditches for him. It’s funny only because we know the world has changed. Whether or not he’s ever able to go back to a traditional classroom environment, the certification process will adapt. He’ll graduate high school and go on to college, in whatever way those things end up being defined.

When I retired a few years ago, I thought I would like to good back, finish my Masters’ degree and get a PhD in History. I applied to universities. I got accepted. And I decided I don’t really want to go. Not this school. Not that school. Not right now. I love reading and watching videos; the learning itself.

Even when I was college I pushed against the structure. I wanted to go my own direction. Week 3, I’m thinking that chapter we had to read is fascinating. I want to explore that. I’m not ready to move on with the rest of the class to the next topic.

Today, when I look at online versus classroom education, I agree with the guy in this article. “[H]e came to the conclusion that a major part of formal education was ‘signalling’; that it was used to ‘filter society by which people are smart, conscientious and conformist enough to put up with it'”. 

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