I was invited to give a presentation to new students and alumni of the Griffith University MBA last night on the future of higher education. I routinely talk about this topic with my colleagues but far less so with the learners themselves. It occurred to me that what I might say would confuse, worry, or excite them, according to how well acquainted they were with the current debate about the direction of the higher education sector. In the end, I decided it was important to lay out everything that is going on in terms of the economics of higher education, the disruption caused by technological innovation and, most importantly, the latest thinking on pedagogy.
Ultimately, it’s all about pedagogy because in an increasingly user-pay system, learners must see value in their investment in higher education. Or that’s the theory, at least! I have encountered students over the years who feel they are being short changed if they aren’t suffering a little. In other words, “this course can’t be any good if I’m not experiencing the pain of long, boring lectures and cramming for final exams”.
It is important, therefore, to manage the expectations of learners, both those who have been through the system and those just entering it. They need to understand the logic behind the restructuring of course delivery and the benefits of a student-centric learning design. Also, that they can be active stakeholders in shaping the learning models of the future.