We definitely live at the time of quick fixes. Lack of time requires of more solutions in less time. “I cannot take a year off work, so I prefer a part-time MBA”, ” I cannot relocate, so I will do a distance-learning program”, “I do not have enough time to dive into this new science so I will take this course that promises me that by the end of it I will have a decent knowledge around the topic”. I am not saying all these are necessarily wrong, but we should admit that they are shortcuts. And Education is not the only way we ask for shortcuts; we do it for our physical fitness, our relationships and so on. Again, I am not saying all these are wrong, I am just stating a fact. Let’s go back to Education.
Taking shortcuts for me, limits the experience. It scratches the surface of the issue, I reckon. I myself follow a MSc by distance, I have enrolled in a few Coursera programs and from personal experience as a student and professional on the area, I can say that in no way can this shortcut replace the learning experience in the class, with co-students and professors. Despite its flexibility and innovative ways, and the amazing fact that high quality education reaches people from around the world, only if they have an internet connection. Still. The physical experience delivered with methods that enhance learning is in my view more impactful in many levels.
With all this hype that online education and rankings have brought, there is a danger, a very clear one. That Education changes in order to become exactly what it has been for decades now, just through another medium: a way to transfer knowledge. To scratch the surface of what defines us as human beings. For me, there are different levels that education can influence us; firstly, it can teach us, secondly, it can make us think and thirdly, it can change they way we think and act. My fear is that we are still avoiding the “elephant in the room”. It is definitely more catchy and attractive to measure how many students are enrolled, how much money is invested, how many processes have changed, but do we actually go back to the student and ask him/her: ” How did this experience change the way you think and act in a way better for you and your community?”
I am afraid in most cases we are only scratching the surface. We follow a checklist that includes tasks, not outcomes. I will come back with examples that prove me wrong. Please do so, too.