Resilient Communities are the Foundations of a Resilient America.

The New Resilience – Higher Education

As I continue to develop the concept of “The New Resilience,” today I’ll look at higher education – all education beyond high school.

A fundamental fact that any discussion of higher ed has to recognize is that the costs of higher ed are rising faster than for almost any other segment of our society; the major exception is health care.  As a result, a new model of course delivery – massive open on-line courses (MOOCs) have begun to displace the traditional “sage on a stage” model of teaching.  For example, Harvard Business School doesn’t teach introductory accounting; students take an on-line course originating from BYU.

The potential advantages of the MOOC model are lower costs and exposure of students to better teaching.  “Potential” is the key word, though.  Costs are generally lower, but broadcasting a class from the same old teacher who didn’t know how to teach before he was put on camera doesn’t improve the quality of instruction.  Further, a key advantage of the traditional method is the interaction with peers and professors.  While this can be accommodated in MOOCs, it’s not an easy marriage.

This interactive process, particularly applied to recognizing and solving problems, I see as a key contributor toward the New Resilience.  In today’s world, we all need to be able to recognize change, and to use the basic skill of learning to find ways to adapt to change.  MOOCs – augmented by on-campus resources – are an efficient manner of delivering traditional course material.  If combined with a strong interactive component focused on applying the course material to the real world, our students can have the kind of adaptive – resilient – experience that they will need to succeed.

This doesn’t just apply to the traditional four-year (or more) curricula either.  Those studying for two year degrees – in welding, nursing, vet tech, and so on – all need to be able to adapt to change.  Virtually all of their “book learning” can be delivered on-line, and precious class time conserved for the hands-on problem-solving required to adapt to changing conditions.

Higher ed is changing, and will continue to change.  The change now is driven by cost; but these changes can lead to greater resilience as well, if we structure them to do so.