I recently attended the University of Nebraska’s Symposium on Innovation in Pedagogy and Technology. It was a fairly typical conference style experience, but as I walked out of the building I was struck with a question:
What SHOULD students pay for?
I’m not trying to be facetious, not trying to be accusatory, but what should we be saving for? If we can articulate good answers for this, then we’ll be able to thrive going forward. But if the answer continues to be ‘learning content’ – as so much of our system is organized around, then we will be in trouble.
I believe students should pay for:
- expert guidance to help make sense of our complex world – help with context
- help making connections amongst courses; connections with peers and faculty, and connecting what they learn in class with transferable job skills
- a safety net to take risks in trying to solve complex problems
- high level of feedback and assessment in specific learning activities and across all of their coursework
I believe students should not pay for:
- content delivery. whether through books, lectures, or other media. courses should help students make sense of the content
- credentials such as degrees that represent a measure of time (credit hours) rather than a measure of competency
- experiences that don’t open doors for multiple kinds of employment
If universities – especially less selective ones cannot come up with a vision for what students SHOULD pay for, someone else will and that is where students will go. We have to live with their definition of value, not the institution’s definition or faculty members’ definitions.