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Billy Hung's profile photoLaura Fokkena's profile photoDonna Murdoch's profile photoGeorge Station's profile photo
Let me be reactionary on this one, at least to start. My P.S. took over but it does come back to my immediate question for +Donna Murdoch:

With 2+2 programs, why do we need 4-year schools? (public or private or de facto private as described)

P.S. I think it's ridiculous to track students for different tiers of college as early as 8th grade, and where that inevitably leads... in the article itself with some apparent smugness, let alone in life. The unstated part of this is that you're also tracking some students for no college as early as 8th grade. Fine for medieval serfdom. Not fine for whatever passes for upward mobility in our former American dream.
+George Station Meh, it's complicated.

On one hand, I like competency-based assessment, because it focuses on learned and applied skill sets. On the other hand, college education is not just about these skills. It's also about skills that are less easy to assess, like critical reading, analysis, and synthesis of new knowledge.

So, while I welcome some changes to how colleges assess our students, I am also wary of giving too much weight to the idea of "ROI of college" so that we become a strictly vocational entity.

As far as 2+2 goes, our department struggles with many transfer students who take all the general education courses in community colleges and then start with their majors courses in our department, only to find that the difference in standards between the two institutions are larger than they anticipated. In many cases, these transfer students will end up taking organic chemistry, physics, and cell biology in their first semester, which is a killer load even for bright students. Consequently, many will do poorly, and drop out, or change major. If they don't take that load, then they are looking at a 2+3, and not a 2+2. So, I don't know that the "ROI" is that much better in that case.
+Billy Hung I'll admit I took ROI personally as I think it is being over-applied to higher ed, dragging us to the "strictly vocational" end of the institutional spectrum. Some of this is fear-based (what if they really DON'T need us for that loftier part of the college experience?) but some of it is just this: that machines and bubble sheets can't screen for "getting it/not getting it" while interacting with students, or the broader "cut of one's jib" assessment which we all do in real life with our students. (Go ahead, deny it...)
An important P.S. is that "basic flipped" is still lecture-dependent. This is important, because so much teaching, especially in the blended world (as opposed to the hybrid world) is NOT lecture-dependent.
+George Station +Billy Hung +Donna Murdoch - I have to agree with you, George, about "basic flipped." That's one reason I am not too keen on it. In this age when knowledge is hyper-abundant and free, I just don't see the point of the lecture as transmission of knowledge." (Now, I'm an auditory learner, so I enjoy a good lecture that *synthesizes knowledge. And I sometimes listen to podcasts rather than music at the gym. But for students who aren't primarily auditory, the "basic flip" and the traditional lecture are almost completely pointless.)

I agree with you, George, about early tracking ... but it's already happening, and it's so central to the design of the 20th-century school that I'm not sure it can be eradicated from that model. What do y'all think?
+Justin Schwamm I will say I am totally into audio (having even a short commute over the years has hooked me on audiobooks). And I commented elsewhere that I can watch hours of C-SPAN (BookTV & History) lectures... with caveat that I do tend to multitask for good or ill, and I tend to watch only when at home on weekends, rarely online! But I'm interested in the continuing research that learning preferences aren't show-stoppers as we may have believed for a while. So my students can read a scholarly text, doggonit, if that's the only available medium.
+George Station I am still looking for a good article that articulates well what I think is important about a college, as opposed to a loosely organized on-line resource center stocked with things like Khan's academy and other OER material. Are we really looking at the beginning of the end for colleges and universities? I am not convinced, but I need to find a good argument here.

+Justin Schwamm "In this age when knowledge is hyper-abundant and free, I just don't see the point of the lecture as transmission of knowledge."

I think that's a thorny issue to address. I think just because information is easily available, it doesn't mean that learning will occur more readily. We've had public libraries and encyclopedias and TV documentaries and VCR/CD-Rom lecture series before, and we didn't see colleges becoming obsolete. The internet is different from a book or a CD-Rom so maybe that's the deciding factor, but I am skeptical. I think learning is not as straight-forward as putting a learner and information into the same space-time.

If we follow the constructionist model of knowledge acquisition, then we see that learning occurs when (1) there is a dissonance between existing knowledge and (2) when the learner adds a piece of new information to the existing framework. Having access to information, even easy access as offered by the internet, doesn't really accomplish objectives 1 and 2. Instruction, then, is the process created by someone to help someone else engage in learning. For some people, they are more than capable of creating their own instructions (like when you and George Station listen to audiobook lectures), but I think most high school graduates, and many college students too, are not high-functioning enough in learning to make sense of the information in a systematic fashion that actually can lead to genuine learning. That is why I think we still need colleges, professors, and instructors.

Now, to the extent that there are now material with instructions available for free (OER or say, the TedEd flipped-YouTube), then yes, it does compete with colleges and schools. So, who knows, maybe colleges will simply transform into something very different in my life time (the next 40 years).

Edited to fix typos and autocorrect mistakes
This isn't about vocational education, it's about college selectivity. I think all the same criticisms apply (early tracking, etc.), but the result is different. Vo-tech locks students into a narrow career range. In this model, the 3+3 students can still get a liberal arts degree if that's their choice. At minimum, it eliminates some redundancies. Math, science, and foreign languages are linear, but under the current model students in the humanities end up taking a lot of the same intro classes that they took in high school and in some cases junior high school. Speaking as both a graduate student and the parent of a student about to enter college, this gets very expensive.
Have to be quick - I'm at school this weekend - perhaps there is a different meaning of 2 + 2 in some places. In my world, 2 + 2 = 2 years of community college or earlier credits (meaning earlier in life) followed with 2 years of higher ed that gives them a bachelors degree. Could be liberal arts, business, whatever. Usually the term is used in online circles, the same way we used to use "degree completion" although it is more formal. I have much more to say about vocational (which on this coast we call career and tech ed now) but will be back later this weekend for comments.
+Laura Fokkena Edit: Let me try this again, I'm multitasking. Sorry. I think it's not about the liberal arts or vocational ed. To me, it's about early tracking, and how early is appropriate. (BTW, I favor a liberal education in general, but don't think it has to happen at a liberal arts institution.)
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