Universities and colleges don’t ‘own’ knowledge anymore. Internet technology and MOOCS now enable a shift to individual access any where and at any time.
It is a good time for educators to ask themselves: ‘What is the job here?’ Or even ‘Is this still the work I want to be doing?’
The new and future role of faculty demands a shift from one of delivery and didactic teaching to one where they are visibly adding value – and there is great potential for all-round benefit to this. For students, educators, employers, and even communities, there is a wonderful opportunity for shared exploration into deeper quality learning that enables all facets of positive growth in life.
It means there is more hope for employers to find better graduate material. For decades they have been demanding candidates who can challenge norms, think differently, and who can come up with new approaches to problems and challenges: not candidates who can only reel off equations and theories or who cannot move much beyond the ability to compare and contrast, or to measure and extrapolate.
It is good for the student as it should bring an end to what Paulo Freire described as the ‘Banking Model’, where students are only seen and treated as depositories for knowledge and, as a direct consequence, have a transactional attitude to lecture and seminar attendance. The value-added they receive should instead be one that delivers a transformational experience, where the curriculum is brought alive and given space to expand into the application of a concept, a method, and its practicalities in the real world. And at the same time, the student develops a deeper sense of self and of their values, both of which compound to create confident adults who are ready to make a positive difference in life.
Best of all, it is good for the educator, whose role as an intermediary on the supply side of knowledge, is redundant if all they are is the ‘middle man’ who adds little or nothing to the cognitive process. It is the educators who are potentially the most influential in terms of creating the culture and ‘feeling’ throughout the campus. Through this shift in learning ethos, there can be an automatic enhancement of diversity, equality, and inclusion in all relationships and exchanges. Especially the one between teacher and student, where there is mutual recognition and appreciation that both bring experience and independent thought to the conversation. It becomes understood that variance is where deep learning hides. The cookie cutter can get tossed out of the window along with all other forms of standardisation, such that secure, effective, and efficient learning can be achieved. Which is surely every educator’s ultimate aim.
Only when teaching staff and also staff developers come to understand that the ‘value-added’ in education is no longer the ‘educare’ that means to train through giving knowledge, but ‘educere’, which is to foster and bring out what is already within, can HEIs hope to deliver more than a graduation certificate, a costly piece of paper.