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Higher Education Curricula, Technology and the Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century (By Hannes Klöpper)
 

Higher Education Curricula, Technology and the Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century (By Hannes Klöpper)

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In the 21st century the work of teachers should undergo two fundamental transformations. We have to rethink what we teach as well as how we teach it....

In the 21st century the work of teachers should undergo two fundamental transformations. We have to rethink what we teach as well as how we teach it.

While this might be stating the obvious, it is professors and teachers that are teaching
future generations of students at all levels. Since they receive their professional education at universities, any reform that aims at having a transformative impact
throughout the educational system has to start there.

With rapidly advancing digital technologies the world's information will increasingly be
available at out fingertips - anytime and anywhere. The primary task of higher
education therefore will evolve from transmitting information, to integrating vast
amounts of information in such a way that it results in knowledge. Yet, in order to
provide students with an education that is adequate for the interdependent,
exponential, complex and messy world that they live in, our understanding of
knowledge itself has to change. Reformed higher education curricula that acknowledge what we call the 'New Enlightenment' should place an increased emphasis on the
epistemological dimension of academic knowledge. By teaching teachers to embrace
the world's complexity and messiness, we can help to transform society's
understanding of knowledge - a crucial prerequisite for dealing with many of the global
challenges the world's facing today.
While there are many reasons to place curriculum reform at the heart of any major
reform of higher education, this raises the question of how these new curricula can be
delivered at scale. Discussions and interdisciplinary peer-to-peer collaboration in small
groups will be quintessential to this new form of higher education. Large lecture halls
on the other hand will become largely superfluous. In a context of stagnating or
diminishing resources t his new form of higher education will make the adoption of
technology inevitable. In so doing, it will shift the role of the teacher from that of a
recitation machine back to that of an advisor and mentor. Online social networks will
go a long way to facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration. Educational analytics and
automatization of basics teacher task (such as grading tests) will allow teachers to refocus
on the epistemological questions.

In short, we have come full circle. In the 20th century we taught digital (i.e. uniform)
curricula by analogue means. In the 21st century we should teach analogue (i.e. locally
contextualized) curricula by digital means.

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    Higher Education Curricula, Technology and the Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century (By Hannes Klöpper) Higher Education Curricula, Technology and the Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century (By Hannes Klöpper) Document Transcript

    • Higher Education Curricula, Technology and the Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century<br />From what I understand it would be good conference practice to make some quip now, about the fact that I am facing the difficult task of preventing you from falling asleep after lunch. <br />Now, it won’t have escaped your notice that I don’t have a Ph.D. and that I could probably be the son of many of you. But there might in fact be some merit to such an element of diversity at a seminar like this – not least since the person in whose place I’m speaking is everything but an ordinary academic. Instead of the quip, I will therefore start off with a little story. The other day I was walking with a friend and his little boy. We walked by a puddle the surface of which was covered by a sheen of oil. The chemical substance had formed a colourful spectre. The boy looked at it. Looked at his dad with a sad face and said: “Look daddy, a dead rainbow.”<br />In spite of the fact that I may lack some of the credentials you would expect from a speaker at this seminar I invite you to forgive me my juvenile naïveté and unbridled optimism and hope that you will find my remarks to be a refreshing shift of perspectives. <br />First of all let me explain that what I will be talking about today is heavily indebted not only to Yehuda Elkana, but also to discussions, deliberations and often intense debates we had with a working group of scholars that met at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin during the academic year 2009/10. Participants in the group represented: diverse disciplines, from the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities; geographic regions, specifically Europe, North America, and India; and different career stages, from former university presidents to students currently enrolled. It was both hard work and a great deal of fun, the whole project being conducted in the spirit of what I am going to talk about today. <br />In the following I shall be using the “we”-form in acknowledgment of the fact that working out these ideas was a genuine team effort. As you may have read in the abstract, we shall argue that in the 21st century the work of teachers should undergo two fundamental transformations. We have to rethink what it is that we are teaching as well as how we are teach it. <br />Let me reiterate why it is that our argument is primarily concerned with higher education – why we think that undergraduate education at the university level is of such crucial importance. While this might be stating the obvious, it is professors and teachers that are teaching future generations of students – at all levels. Since both of these groups receive their professional education at universities, any reform that aims to have a transformative impact throughout the educational system in our opinion will have to start there. In other words: we believe that if higher education is redesigned along the lines suggested here this will transform institutionalized education as a whole.<br />We are aware of the fact that this conviction places great demands on an institution that already seems overburdened. Universities worldwide are experiencing hard times. This is hardly news. However, the difficulties that resulted from the underfunded move toward mass higher education – that were recently exacerbated by the global financial crisis – distract attention from a more fundamental problem: the universities’ own failure to innovate. This is what we regard to be the root cause of the universities’ troubles, a problem that requires urgent attention. <br /> Our basic contention is that – at the beginning of the 21st century – the University as an institution has reached a dual-impasse. An impasse that prevents it from fulfilling one of its core functions: namely to provide students with a worthwhile education. This impasse is rooted in the inadequacy of university curricula as well as in their outdated mode of teaching. By addressing both of these problems universities will not only be able to reinvent themselves as institutions, but will redefine what it means to be a teacher in the 21st century.<br />The root of the crisis is intellectual. <br />It is a crisis of aims, focus and content, which is rooted in confusion about all three. In retrospect, this situation is not surprising: it was inevitable that an institution founded on the 19th century concept of the divisibility of knowledge into independent disciplines would find itself in difficulties in the early 21st century, a time whose signature characteristic is that everything – subjects, peoples, systems and, not least, problems – are connected. At the same time the theories and tools that may help us better understand and teach students about this new world, were unknown to the likes of Humboldt and Newman. <br />The crisis has been brewing for some time but is all the more apparent today, as the speed of social, intellectual and technological change outside the universities increasingly out-paces their capacity – and willingness – to innovate. As a consequence, universities are increasingly unable to teach students how to think about the problems the world faces today; let alone about how to contribute to possible solutions.<br />The world is complex and messy and always has been. Yet, the great idea of the Enlightenment in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries was to create knowledge in all areas, as if this were not the case – as if the world were predictable, context-independent, coherent, linear and as if – in the end – all knowledge were reducible to a few, universal formulae. The cluster of values that were put on a pedestal consists of the following: universalism, rationalism, objectivity, value-free knowledge, context-independence, the existence of non-political knowledge, an abhorrence of contradictions, anti-dialectical thinking in all domains of thought, absolutism, linear thinking, completeness, quest for certainty and the belief in its achievability, seeing the world in terms of dichotomies…<br />It is a long list <br />Moreover, the Enlightenment was committed to the belief that there is strict compatibility between the world of nature and the world of human society, the 'cosmos' and the 'polis', called by some scholars the "cosmopolis". As a result of this daring assumption an unprecedented richness of knowledge was created in the natural sciences, the social sciences and in the humanities.<br />Yet, this Enlightenment program began to break down in the twentieth century where more and more new knowledge was created that made clear that the world is not linear, not coherent, not free from contradictions, not reducible to a few formulae and context-dependent. It became increasingly clear that the cherished universals of the Enlightenment were actually local, Western universals. <br />Thus, in our opinion we need no less than what we call <br />‘A New Enlightenment’ <br />This new enlightenment should be based on the principle "from local universalism to global contextualism". What we mean by that is that instead of spreading local theories that proclaim universal validity – if you care for an example think about the activities of the Bretton Woods institutions in developing countries – instead of that we need a global movement towards locally contextualized theorizing. We need to embrace contradictions, learn to live with incoherence, deal with non-linearity and question our values. This movement must find its expression in higher education curricula, as the university is the only social institution established for the explicit purpose of creating genuinely new knowledge and passing it on to future generations.<br />Let me describe the problem in some more detail. To say that universities are relatively slow in adapting to a changing world, as we have above, is not to ignore the fact that some serious attempts at reform have been made and are being made. Some universities are undergoing often radical, structural transformations, ranging from the Exzellenzinitiative in Germany to the Bologna Process in Europe. There is certainly potential for creative change in these organizational transformations but the accelerating decline of public investments in universities in Europe, the United States and countries in other regions, in the face of ever-growing demand for access everywhere, may annul much of this potential. On the other hand, countries like Brazil, India and China are pouring billions of dollars worth of new funds into establishing new universities and opening their gates to millions of students. Yet, the basic model that these countries are using is the western model of the 20th century, the “multiversity”, the very structure that is beginning to fail in the West itself. Despite the signs of strain and incipient failure of this model, the responses of the governmental bodies responsible for tertiary education in the West, to the intellectual questions raised by the state of the world, are, for the most part, inadequate. While “reforms” abound, they are often designed to maintain the essential features of the status quo and their real focus is on tapping new funding sources. This emphasis on financing, with its implicit acceptance of contemporary structures, shapes the language that universities use in addressing the outside world. It permeates their arguments to justify their existence and, correspondingly, moulds the responses they receive. <br />[Just think of the British debate about the Browne report. At this point I would like to use the opportunity to recommend to you two excellent recent pieces by Stefan Collini in the London Review of Books.] <br />The focus on funding diverts attention away from the much-needed discussion of the central issues of what universities are for. What they should be teaching today. How they should teach it. And what needs to be done to ensure that students leave university with an educational foundation that is adequate for the 21st century.<br />The first crucial, but essential, topic that gets neglected in most discussions of university reform is the nature of university curricula. For each university, essentially a community of scholar-teachers and students, the curricula embody its central raison d’être and must, therefore, hold the key to its internal renewal. If our contention that a curricular structure based on a 19th century model of knowledge is inherently inadequate to the present time is correct, then curricular reform is in fact the essence of any university reform and for that matter of any reform of education in general. <br />In short we would like to argue that the basic teaching model is flawed, failing to reflect the world’s complexity. In a sense this is not new since the world has always been complex, but the practical relevancy of that complexity in people’s lives has increased significantly. The world is not only increasingly interconnected in multiple ways – as we have just noted – but simultaneously fractured along economic, political, social and religious fault lines. By any number of measures, world civilisation in the 21st century is on the brink of major environmental, economic and social dislocations, some potentially catastrophic. Universities can either change to become effective instruments to help humanity avoid these situations or struggle to maintain themselves as they are and thereby write themselves into irrelevance as the disasters unfold. <br />If our diagnosis is correct, then one central objective of universities should be to endow their students with the capacity to solve complex problems of all sorts and to help them acquire the mindset necessary to understand and tackle the challenges thrown up by the contemporary world. This cannot be achieved by the traditional curricular structure, which is founded on discipline-based departments, whose lineage traces back to a time when the world was seen as stable, predictable and orderly, and, above all, divisible into neat compartments for study and understanding.<br />Let us make this contention more concrete by taking three examples of major contemporary problems: global warming, rapidly spreading epidemics and world poverty. All three of these problems neither lend themselves to traditional analytical approaches nor to conventional solutions. Should, for instance, global warming only be dealt with in meteorology classes, epidemics only in biology classes, and poverty only in social work classes? Just to pose the question in this way illustrates how preposterous as well as useless this suggestion would be. None of these problems can be comfortably fitted within any standard academic discipline; all have crucial environmental, biological, societal, political, mathematical, computational and economic dimensions that collectively burst the boundaries of the standard subject areas. It follows that students need to learn how to think about these topics in all their multidimensional complexity. <br />Today, because such phenomena do not lend themselves to treatment within the traditional frameworks, they are hardly dealt with at all and are primarily discussed, as complicated special cases, only to be dealt with by the most advanced students and grey Nobel-prize winning eminences. Inconveniently the academic as well as the practical world throws up more and more problems of this very nature. Treating them as special cases is simply not a valid option anymore.<br />Appropriate radical curriculum reform in universities will, amongst other features, allow such real-world problems to enter the classroom. In fact, we posit that curricular transformation of this kind should be the first preoccupation and the primary aim of overall university reform. If one does not get the curriculum right first, reforms that deal with other issues (e.g., finance and organisation), can only achieve partial success at best. We recognise that, while the problems of contemporary university curricula are global, there is no universal model that will suit all national cultures or all universities of any given nation. Indeed, students within a single university, as they pursue very different paths in terms of their professional and personal development, require different curricula. The various specific solutions that will evolve, both between and within universities, however, can and should be guided by a set of central principles that recognise 21st century realities of inter-connectedness and complexity – of the world as well as our knowledge about it. It is the shape of these principles that we would like to describe in some more detail.<br /> <br />Let us start with the question: What is the purpose of a university education?<br />This question embodies two distinct issues: 1) "What should the individual student expect from a university education?" and 2) "What should society expect from the provision of university education?"<br />The answer to the first ranges from “self-fulfilment and personal growth” to “getting a good job”, with the great majority of people probably emphasising the latter. That utilitarian goal need not and should not preclude the former, however. Fostering curiosity about all phenomena – human, societal and natural – should be a universal goal of higher education. Usually this is reserved for a select few, the presumed top students. Yet, our extraordinary curiosity about the nature of things, an indirect product of human evolution, is a fundamental distinguishing feature of our species and universities everywhere should aim to spark it in all their students, not just the high-achievers. Indeed, sparking such deep interest is essential for students to achieve any understanding of the main problems that 21st century societies are facing. Such understanding can only come from learning the fundamentals of the kind of thinking needed to cope with our astonishingly complex and messy world. This gift for critical thinking will be necessary if students are to become creative and effective problem solvers. <br />However, critical thinking should to be more than a mere analytic tool applied to externally determined ends. The study of questions of value will have to take centre stage. Students have to be educated in a way that goes beyond training their capacity for rational judgment. A true education for critical thinking teaches them to challenge the very values on which their judgments are based. In the words of a former professor of mine, the German sociologist Claus Offe, higher education should not only help people to answer the question “how do I get, what I want?” but should lead them toward becoming accustomed to ask the question “how do I come to want, what I want?”<br />The standard answer to the second question, "What should society expect from the provision of university education?", i.e. what is it that society can expect in return for its investment in the academic world is: an output of educated individuals who can earn their keep and contribute to civic life as well as the economic well-being of the common weal. While we broadly agree with this as a goal, we think that this way of phrasing the matter both seriously understates and misstates the issue. The business world increasingly realises – and running a start-up I can very much attest to that – that what it needs are fast learning and adaptive problem solvers, not made-to-measure specialists. For example, on Monday a girl with a Master’s in Neurobiology joined our team. Companies today often operate on a global scale and therefore are acutely aware of the difficulties that enlightenment-fundamentalist curricula produce. Coincidentally the kind of skills more and more companies are looking for happen to be precisely those societies would like their citizens to posses: what they are looking for are 'concerned citizens' who can think creatively and work co-operatively on building and strengthening the communities of which they are a part. The pursuit of individual rationality may often be at odds with collective rationality, not just for society as a whole, but also for businesses – I’m sure they can tell you a lot about that UBS London. Therefore, educators should not give up on trying to make their students realise that, in the long run, individual self-interest and the collective good are complementary and serve to reinforce each other. No individual thrives in a dysfunctional or decaying society. Students need to learn that “no man is an island”. Having experienced some of the disastrous consequences that were created by policies ignorant of this fundamental truth, many more of today’s students may well be receptive to this a message. The important point here is that what the students need and want out of a university education and what society needs and wants from the academic world are largely identical. So business should be a partner in what we are trying to achieve.<br />The affirmation that students should think critically about the information they are provided with is a truism. No educator would argue against it. Why should we mention it anyway? The reason is that it is a truism that is honoured more in the breach than in actual practice, particularly because of the frequent conflation of “information” and “knowledge”. Typical university classes try to stuff the students’ heads with information, while calling it “knowledge”. Yet, the two things are truly different. While information is a set of unprocessed facts, knowledge involves the assessment and organisation of information. The university's role of dispensing information – think of the standard lecture given in a university lecture hall – is becoming obsolete as the world of computer network-provided information takes over. We will have more to say about this later. <br />More than ever, we are overwhelmed by information that often is disorganised and undigested. Therefore, students need to be enabled to: a) process a glut of information in order to winnow out the true from the false and the important from the insignificant; and b) critically evaluate existing knowledge, namely information that has previously passed this winnowing stage and is widely accepted. It must be stressed that the university’s role as a shaper of young peoples’ ability to think critically is essential; there is no other institution in society that can take its place in this respect. <br />This concept of knowledge-as-critically evaluated-information, the development of creative, analytical thinking and evaluation capacities will also require productive forms of doubt, based on an awareness of the limits of knowledge. In effect, critical evaluation requires learning how to recognize what is not understood; whatever the prevailing consensus might be. Students need to learn how to stand back from what they have learned and appreciate both the social and cultural contexts within which their understanding has been gained. Moreover they should gain an idea of the broad intellectual context within which the ideas they have been taught were and are framed. In other words, they need to be not just critical thinkers within the frameworks of their particular chosen subject areas but must learn to be critics of those frameworks as well – this is true in the sciences, the social sciences as well as the humanities. <br />“What were the questions that led to the framing of a dominant paradigm?”, “How well do those foundations and subsequent findings really support it?”, “Do we tend to accept a paradigm principally because of intellectual inertia or convenience rather than because it remains compelling?”, “How can paradigms be adapted and reinterpreted – or, indeed, sometimes be rejected – in the light of new evidence?” These are questions we should seek to stimulate.<br /> Thus, though it may seem paradoxical, the acquisition of knowledge and understanding requires the capacity to continuously re-examine the ideas that one is most certain of. In grappling with the most difficult of questions affecting human societies, it is often this very ability – the capacity to re-examine fundamental assumptions – that makes the crucial difference between ideas that are sterile and those that are fruitful. In effect, “knowing how to know” involves developing a sense of when we really do not know, or understand, something.<br />This will put an end to the inculcation of the premise that underlies the traditional approach: the idea that all questions have certain answers. As we argue below, it is in appreciating the limits, ambiguities and uncertainties of both questions and of proposed solutions to problems that real wisdom lies. While this fundamental shift will demand a lot of effort and experimentation, we believe it can be done. We maintain that it should be a fundamental aim for all university education, not just the programmes at the very best institutions or those for the very best students. If this is what we consider to be the right approach, then it is what should guide curricula design in general. It is not just a question of basic fairness – which it is – but also of a prudent use of resources, to maximize both the benefits of higher education as well as the number of those to whom these benefits are afforded.<br />In summary: successful reform and implementation of curricula will help to feed students' curiosity, will let them grow personally, will allow them to realise their potential and will inspire them to become constructive participants in society. These goals of higher education should take centre stage and replace the present emphasis on training for the workforce and transmitting information – an issue about which I will have more to say in a minute. <br />What is it then that students do need to learn?<br />Let us take a look at the actual bodies of knowledge that students must acquire, for we do not believe that higher education is only about the acquisition of skills. In our opinion comprehensive higher education is as much about building a skill-set as it is about building a mindset. Therefore we believe that there are three essential broad areas with which all students – and we stress “all” – need to become familiar: <br />- knowledge of the natural world, <br />- knowledge of the social worlds and human cultures, and <br />- knowledge of the individual on a emotional, cognitive and behavioural level. <br />Most universities provide instruction in these areas within the framework of the traditional academic disciplines. Thus, knowledge of the natural sciences is conveyed through courses in physics, chemistry, and biology; that of the social sciences through courses in history, sociology, political science, anthropology, economics and cultural studies; and knowledge of the world of the individual is conveyed in courses of philosophy, languages, psychology, literature, the visual arts, and related disciplines. Of course, these distinctions are not neat and there are courses that overlap, often by design, within and between the three major divisions noted above, but the traditional departmental framework remains the norm.<br />This tri-partite grouping of disciplines into major divisions, however, must itself be called into question if the division of knowledge into traditional academic disciplines is no longer tenable. Here, however, we would like to make what is perhaps our seemingly most paradoxical statement: while the disciplinary framework is increasingly inadequate as an exclusive approach to understanding, it remains essential for the first steps of education and thinking. Disciplines, we maintain, are the necessary foundation for any form of education that combines both depth and breadth. They provide both an initial framework for thinking about a subject and the first exposure to how to think rigorously about it. Past experiments that tried to abandon disciplines altogether and that made all education problem-centred typically failed, often strikingly so. They resulted in superficiality and actually hindered further creative intellectual development. How then might one square the circle of providing entry to understanding via disciplines while avoiding their inherent traps? <br />Some crucial implications follow from all of the considerations listed so far. The most basic is that individual courses should highlight the challenges, open questions and uncertainties of each discipline. An essential element of such an approach will be to bring into each course the much larger context in which the particular subject developed. Part of this will require treating knowledge as a matter of historical gestation and transformation. This requires us to critically examine how knowledge is being generated, acquired, and used. The history of ideas is often regarded as a luxury that students need not necessarily bother with. In reality understanding that very history is often crucial to understanding the dominant theories – and their limitations. When knowledge is taught in terms of its contextual origins, that is as a product of a particular cultural and social milieu, with all the connections and problematic aspects that such a context entails – in effect, as a product of its history – students will acquire the capacity to appreciate, relate to, mediate and translate between different points of view. This is an essential capability if they are to become creative thinkers and/or shapers of their societies. As we have stressed, no one subject or academic discipline alone can adequately address any of the major challenges global society is facing. Interdisciplinary approaches thus must be emphasised from the beginning of a university education. <br />The above desiderata bring us to the most important change that university education must undergo: as already mentioned above, disciplines were introduced and developed within the 19th century Eurocentric view of the world as a certain, orderly, stable and predictable place. In consequence, traditional natural and social sciences, which are still taught at university, describe a highly deterministic world, one in which events can be fairly readily explained and predicted. Consequently, the physics taught today at the undergraduate level is predominantly a physics of equilibrium processes and, comparably, introductory economics courses start with the premise that a market economy always tends towards equilibrium.<br />One way of putting it is that the way we teach natural and social sciences is dominated by ‘linear thinking’. One of many possible definitions of linear thinking is that it is wedded to proportionality and predictability. Of course, most of the natural and social scientists who teach undergraduate courses built on these premises fully realize that the actual world is far more complex and often bears little resemblance to that predicted by the linear models. Nevertheless, the prevailing presupposition is that the attractive but misleadingly orderly picture of the world provides a sufficiently good approximation of reality as a starting point for instruction. In our opinion, however, the accumulation of enormous new knowledge in the last one hundred years, about the complexity of the world and the history and sociology of science, sufficiently undermines the conventional representation to make it useful – even as a good approximation. The existence of phenomena often described as ‘chaotic’ or fractal, about non-equilibrium processes, about self-organization, about network theories and the like needs to be acknowledged early on. Furthermore, a large part of any description of the world requires a broadly inclusive evolutionary perspective, one that emphasises the dynamics and time-dependent patterns of change in the natural world as well as the world of society and of human cultures. Since many students do not go on to advanced courses that address such phenomena, we must introduce at the freshman level the type of thinking which is necessary to cope with the complexity of the world. In effect, we need to expose them to numerous examples of real-life situations exhibiting mostly non-linear dynamics early in their university education. Otherwise we run the risk of indoctrinating rather than educating our students.<br />Based on these principles, the curriculum should provide regular opportunities for combining theory and analytic rigour with practical applications to real-world problems. <br />This brings us to our central recommendation.<br />We propose that undergraduate courses that provide rigorous training in the disciplines should be taught in parallel with new experimental seminars that cover real-life situations – phenomena and problems that are necessarily complex, messy, ill defined and interdisciplinary in character. Students from all disciplines should come together to discuss questions such as poverty, global inequities, contagious disease, energy and natural resources or the environment and climate change. Clearly, these parallel courses at the freshman and junior level cannot be technically high-level and rigorous, but they would assure that all students would gain a sophisticated awareness of the great problems that humanity is facing. In so doing we can introduce students to the very mode of thinking that we see as the crucial educational outcome of a university education.<br />Instead of the models of either the multiversity or the liberal arts college, we propose that, in the context of a four-year Bachelor’s degree, students are granted the freedom to explore and experiment in the first year of university education. The following two years should provide them with a firm grounding in at least two disciplines, in conjunction with the above-mentioned seminars discussing real-life situations. During the last year of undergraduate education, the courses should be broadened to make cross-disciplinary connections with increasing frequency and depth.<br />The seminars that we propose for the years two and three, as a counterpoint to the introductory courses, would serve this purpose initially but in the subsequent years more advanced courses should incorporate this dimension. This would put an end to the conventional but wholly artificial separation of theories from methods and of epistemological considerations from the practical applications that follow. <br />Engaging students to approach problems in the way sketched above promises to be one of the most difficult, and at the same time, most rewarding aspect of this new approach. Teaching a set of seminars devoted to complex real life problems that transcend disciplinary boundaries in parallel with the introductory courses to the basic disciplines will demonstrate the value of interdisciplinarity. The courses in the fourth year of study will introduce students to rigorous interdisciplinarity as productive, even essential form of research; not an escape into dilettantism as it is sometimes portrayed. At the same time it will create an awareness of the fact that answers to the most promising research questions and the solutions to most intractable practical challenges cannot be achieved by any one discipline alone.<br />Higher education is not (and arguably never has been) about filling students’ heads with facts. It was only with the advent of the mass university and the necessity to make student learning easily testable that the transfer of information came to take centre stage in university pedagogy. Conveniently the arrival of the mass university coincided with the hay-day of positivism, the belief that the principles of the ‘scientific method’ were valid at all times and in all disciplines, which led academics to seek an understanding of the world in discrete, measurable – that is digital – terms. Such a reductionist, digital understanding of knowledge with its neat divisions of the world into categories of right and wrong was well suited for the labor-intensive, analogue mode of teaching prevalent at the time. Today, we begin to realize that teaching digital, universal knowledge, by analogue means is neither effective nor efficient. As a next step we thus have to capitalize on the fact that intellectual necessity coincides with technological opportunity. We have to transition from teaching digital knowledge by analogue means, towards teaching analogue knowledge using digital means. The purpose cannot be the mechanization of learning, but the re-humanization of teaching. We have to refocus student learning, placing renewed emphasis on small group discussions, tutoring and mentoring – in person as well as online. In this, the acquisition of information can always only be the starting point of this type of learning, which ultimately aims at teaching analogue, local knowledge in order to educate concerned, contextually aware citizens.<br />Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age <br />I will keep this part of my remarks relatively brief, since I have been told that this institution believes this battle to have already been won. I frankly think that it has barely even started and, therefore, would like to briefly sketch the road ahead as I see it.<br />The implementation of our proposals will have very tangible consequences for the actual practice of teaching. The most general point is that universities have to re-think how education should be conducted in light of both the new educational objectives and technology's enormous transformative potential. <br />We should draw upon the insights generated by research in pedagogy and teaching and act upon them. Carol Twigg, who conducted important pioneering work in course redesign ten years ago at the National Center for Academic Transformation, neatly summed up the impact of the ubiquitous availability of a sheer infinite number of learning resources as follows: “teaching is no longer necessary for learning to occur.” Thus, new teaching structures that facilitate the free flow of information and criticism amongst all members of the university will have to be developed; not least in order to empower students to become their own (peer) teachers. In particular, teaching formats that merely serves the one-way transmission of information from teachers to students, such as lectures, we believe will become increasingly obsolete. <br />This does, however, not mean that we won’t need teachers. Conversely, personal interaction, coaching and mentoring will assume heightened importance. As I read in a blog post in preparation for this lecture: “We will need teachers as long as children are less experienced than adults.” However, the roles of students and professors will change: student-centred teaching and mentoring will become hallmarks of higher, in fact of all forms of education. Thus, personal interaction will remain crucial in spite of the advances in technology that have so radically altered access to information. <br />Technology will play a large in making this personal interaction possible in the context of the mass university. The ‘Flipping the Classroom’ paradigm pioneered in primary and secondary education, where students acquire information and basic knowledge at home and then come to class to do what used to be called homework, appears to be even more valid in the context of higher education. Already in 2003 did Carol Twigg call upon higher education to focus on “collaborative inquiry based activities”. <br />Teaching has to acknowledge that students differ in the amount of interaction they require or want, depending on their learning style. The best time to learn something is when the student wants to learn, rather than when the teacher wants to teach. Ansynchronous communication in digital networks stretches the time frame for seminar-style peer-to-peer dialogue from one hour per week to 24/7. This is what we are working on at iversity and I sincerely invite all of you to check out what we have built.<br />The permanent availability of digital learning resources will result in a significant increase of learning possibilities. The KhanAcademy, currently the most visible pilot project in this field, is only the tip of the iceberg. The wealth of material is sheer endless and is increasing by the day. Computerized-correction of multiple-choice test can free up time that allows instructors to concentrate on academic rather than logistical interactions with students. Educational analytics can track user-interaction with digital learning materials and appropriate dashboards that allow teachers to view and interpret this data in real time enable much more customized and targeted interventions on the part of the teacher. <br />The goal should not be to lower the number of ‘C’ or lower grades in the end of the year exam. As Professor Thomas just pointed out the goal in some subjects will be ‘mastery’ of each and every student. You are only allowed to progress to the next learning module once you have mastered the one you’re working on. Some may need longer than other’s, but some will be a lot faster. Why hold them back? When it comes to the acquisition of skills this competency-based approach pioneered by Western Governors University in the United States seems a lot more appropriate than the clunky Bologna system the is still counting the hours on task. Whether it might still make sense to require a time investment of four years for a Bachelor’s degree is yet a different debate – one we may want to have during the break.<br />A consequence of all the things mentioned, is that the university will increasingly require physical spaces where teachers and students, or for that matter students and students, can meet in order to get to know each other, to develop self and mutual confidence, to exchange ideas and to critically evaluate them. These spaces will undoubtedly be vastly different in physical layout and organisation from the once we know. Moreover, universities will need a digital infrastructure that is designed to promote the very flow of ideas, information and knowledge that the curricula and new modes of teaching seek to encourage. Instead, of lecture halls we will need new educational settings – offline as well as online – that put self-directed inquiry, peer-to-peer education and intensive discussion at centre stage of the learning process. <br />On that latter point: Some may object that the set of reforms we are proposing will require large investments at all levels of governance – local, regional, national and trans-national; investments that are unlikely in a period of financial constraints that are likely to tighten in the foreseeable future. We are fully aware of this dilemma but we would like to point out that many of the organizational and physical changes we propose have the potential to cut running costs when fully implemented. If our diagnosis of fundamental ills of the present system is correct, the financial implications are that huge sums of money are being misspent on the inefficient delivery of ill-conceived curricula. The cost of maintaining such a dysfunctional system should not be under-emphasized and can hardly be overstated.<br />A lot of work from academics across the globe that care deeply about the intellectual mission of the university will be needed to re-design curricula and teaching practices along the lines suggested. <br />So as to give them a platform, we encourage universities to join curricular and teaching innovation networks that facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge. In order to lead by example we created a website that may serve as a resource for everyone interested in curriculum reform. You may want to take a look at www.curriculumreform.org. Moreover all of you are cordially invited to join the conversation in the curriculum reform group that I created on iversity. <br />It is our hope that a renewed focus on thinking about and experimenting with curricula as well as teaching – or rather learning – practices, will result in an intellectual renewal that will re-energise the University. It is this renewal that will allow the University to retain undisputed relevance, as we seize the opportunities and confront the challenges that present themselves to our species and our planet in the 21st century.<br />Carol Twigg<br />“Currently in higher education, both on campus and online, we individualize faculty practice (that is, we allow individual faculty members great latitude in course development and delivery) and standardize the student learning experience (that is, we treat all students in a course as if their learning needs, interests, and abilities were the same). Instead, we need to do just the opposite: individualize student learning and standardize faculty practice. But with its connotations of words like regulate, regiment, and homogenize, the word standardize does not precisely capture what is required. What higher education needs is greater consistency in academic practice that builds on accumulated knowledge about improving quality and reducing costs.”<br />Establish a New Culture of Collective Networked Learning (Chp. 3)<br />Universities have to confront the reality that the world has “suddenly, irrevocably, cataclysmically, epistemically changed—and changed precisely in the area of learning.” Today a participatory and networked culture of learning is emerging, “stressing cooperation, interactivity, mutuality, and social engagement for their own sakes and for the powerful productivity to which it more often than not leads.”<br />In a groundbreaking report Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg wrote for the MacArthur Foundation with the assistance of Zoë Marie Jones, they juxstapose the old and the new culture of learning and summarize their findings as follows:<br />“If individualized learning is largely tethered to a social regime of copyright-protected intellectual property and privatized ownership, networked learning is committed in the end to an open source and open content social regime. Individualized learning tends overwhelmingly to be hierarchical: one learns from the teacher or expert, on the basis overwhelmingly of copyright- protected publications bearing the current status of knowledge. Networked learning is at least peer-to-peer and more robustly many-to-many.” <br />In this “New Culture of Learning” to borrow a phrase coined by the book of the same name by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, the so called “learning ensembles” spontaneously emerge “in which the members both support and sustain, elicit from and expand on each other’s learning inputs, contributions, and products.” It is the task every individual educator as well as that of the institution as such to reshape institutional learning in a way that not just allows for, but promotes such ad-hoc coalitions characterized by flexibility, interactivity, and outcome-orientation. This challenges one of the basic pillars of our educational system, namely “the assumption that teaching is necessary for learning to occur.” Instead of teaching students about the world, “the new culture of learning focuses on learning through engagement within the world.” The real-world seminars as the ones we propose in the Principles for Undergraduate Education, or such as the Bennington laboratories mentioned above, are archetypal examples of how institutions can embrace this new culture and adopt the new approach to teaching that emerges from it.<br />In their analysis of the learning collectives formed by players of online multi-player games Thomas and Brown conclude that these loose networked groups produce and “process an astounding amount of information on a continual basis, seamlessly integrating new knowledge.” Teaching formats that want students to engage with the world should similarly be characterized by a “rich social context of peer interaction, feedback, and knowledge construction enabled by a technological infrastructure that promotes “intense, autonomous, interest driven” learning” – a form of learning they describe as “collective indwelling”. <br />Ultimately, they identify the connection of play and imagination as “the single most important step in unleashing the new culture of learning.” The idea is classical and one of its most pregnant formulations can be found in Huizinga’s study on the play element in human culture. For this to happen institutions of higher education have to find ways to incorporate the almost unlimited amount of informational resources at our disposal as “nutrients” into some form of “petri dish” that is replacing what used to be called a ‘class’. We believe that real-world seminars that run parallel to students’ disciplinary education are the perfect playground to experiment with these new and exciting ideas. It is these experiments that will eventually allow for the institutional culture of universities “shifts from the weighty to the light, from the assertive to the enabling.”<br />Appendix 1: The Manifesto of 11 bullet points, published on the web.<br />Curriculum Reform Manifesto:Principles for Rethinking Undergraduate Curricula for the 21st Century:<br />The current crisis of the university is intellectual. It is a crisis of purpose, focus and content, rooted in fundamental confusion about all three. As a consequence, curricula are largely separate from research, subjects are taught in disciplinary isolation, knowledge is conflated with information and is more often than not presented as static rather than dynamic. Furthermore, universities are largely reactive rather than providing clear forward-looking visions and critical perspectives. The crisis is all the more visible today, as the pace of social, intellectual and technological change inside and outside the universities is increasingly out of step. While universities worldwide are undergoing many, often radical, structural transformations, ranging from the Bologna Process in Europe and the Exzellenzinitiative in Germany to the rapid expansion of universities in India and China, the accelerating decline of public investments in universities in the United States and elsewhere and an ever growing demand for university access everywhere, much less attention has been paid to university curricula. But for the university as a community of scholars and students, that is its central function and the key to its internal renewal. Universities are embedded in multiple institutional, economic, financial, political and research networks. All of these generate pressures and constraints as well as opportunities. The curriculum, however, is the core domain of the university itself.<br />Here we present a set of eleven overlapping principles designed to inform an international dialogue and to guide an experimental process of redesigning university undergraduate curricula worldwide. There can be no standard formula for implementation of these principles given the huge diversity of institutional structures and cultural differences amongst universities but these principles, we believe, provide the foundational concepts for what needs to be done.<br />As a central guideline teach disciplines rigorously in introductory courses together with a set of parallel seminars devoted to complex real life problems that transcend disciplinary boundaries.<br />Teach knowledge in its social, cultural and political contexts. Teach not just the factual subject matter, but highlight the challenges, open questions and uncertainties of each discipline.<br />Create awareness of the great problems humanity is facing (hunger, poverty, public health, sustainability, climate change, water resources, security, etc.) and show that no single discipline can adequately address any of them.<br />Use these challenges to demonstrate and rigorously practice interdisciplinarity, avoiding the dangers of interdisciplinary dilettantism.<br />Treat knowledge historically and examine critically how it is generated, acquired, and used. Emphasize that different cultures have their own traditions and different ways of knowing. Do not treat knowledge as static and embedded in a fixed canon.<br />Provide all students with a fundamental understanding of the basics of the natural and the social sciences, and the humanities. Emphasize and illustrate the connections between these traditions of knowledge.<br />Engage with the world’s complexity and messiness. This applies to the sciences as much as to the social, political and cultural dimensions of the world. This will contribute to the education of concerned citizens.<br />Emphasize a broad and inclusive evolutionary mode of thinking in all areas of the curriculum.<br />Familiarize students with non-linear phenomena in all areas of knowledge.<br />Fuse theory and analytic rigor with practice and the application of knowledge to real-world problems.<br />Rethink the implications of modern communication and information technologies for education and the architecture of the university.<br />Curricular changes of this magnitude and significance both require and produce changes in the structural arrangements and institutional profiles of universities.  This is true for matters of governance, leadership, and finance as well as for systems of institutional rewards, assessment, and incentives; it is bound to have implications for the recruitment and evaluation of both professors and students as well as for the allocation of resources and the institutional practice of accountability. The experimental process of curriculum reform we hope to stimulate by offering these guiding principles will thus require the collaboration of scholars and educators willing to transform their scholarly and educational practices and of administrators willing to support experimentation and to provide the necessary structural conditions for it to succeed.<br />These principles are the conclusion of deliberations by a working group of scholars that met at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin during the academic year 2009/10. Some were fellows at the Kolleg, others joined the group because of their interest in these issues. The Wissenschafstkolleg supported the work of its fellows. In addition, these principles have already been adopted by the group of institutions listed below as a blueprint for local curriculum reform. The group of participants represented diverse disciplines (from the natural and social sciences and the humanities), geographical origins (Europe, North America, and India) as well as career stages (from former university presidents to students). They invite their colleagues around the world to join in this effort of re-thinking and re-shaping teaching and learning for the university of the future.<br /> HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcurriculumreform.asu.edu%2Fmanifesto&t=Manifesto%20%7C%20curriculumreform.org&src=sp" Share<br />Appendix 2: Some practical considerations<br />How is this combination of abilities and attitudes to be fostered? We would be claiming too much if we said we knew. Nevertheless, as a starting point for broad international dialogue on these matters, we will venture some suggestions. We recognize that the whole process of developing these new ways of teaching will involve a lot of experimentation – and time. Some of us will probably not live to see the major part of this working out of methods accomplished but we all hope to see its beginnings.<br />1) More team-teaching. The value of team-teaching is that it brings a multiplicity of perspectives to the discussion. This process is particularly productive if teachers of different disciplines participate. Thus, physicists who understand some biology should be involved in teaching physics-for-biologists; philosophers should be giving some lectures in chemistry courses; sociologists and teachers of literature should be contributing to psychology courses, but even to courses in the natural sciences.<br />2) Problem-solving capacity. The curricula to be developed should enable students to understand what specific capacity the field or discipline can have for the solution or even transformation of challenging real-life problems. At the same time, curricula should point out which disciplines and what expertise of the people working in the problem area itself should be brought in to support or supplement the discipline's own contribution. As far as a lack of knowledge is concerned, transparency is of the essence. There should be open competition between different forms of knowledge and expertise - be it competition between individual disciplines or between science as a whole and society at large. Curricula have to be dynamic: This implies that the shifting boundaries and relations between disciplines have to be carefully observed. The same is true of the context-related setting between higher education and societal field expertise. Transdisciplinary approaches must be developed in higher education as well as in research.<br />3) Involving the students. In developing the new curricula, the students should be actively and deliberately encouraged to help find new paths. There is tremendous enthusiasm for new modes of learning and new, creative solutions are being developed. It is undoubtedly the students who will help the teachers explore the possibilities of new media and incorporate them into learning at the university level. Contributing to the development of the educational process will empower students to be responsible members of the academic community during their time at university.<br />4) Teaching the anti-paradigms. Every discipline has its core ideas, its central paradigms. It is impossible not to teach subjects without heavy reference to, and even guidance by, such ideas. Yet, it is equally important to make it clear that these are received ideas and that no paradigm can ever achieve full validity. Individual teachers will have to step back, re-evaluate and bring alternative ideas into the discussion. Writing assignments can emphasise critiques of received wisdom in all fields. Clearly, bringing in other teachers who have different views would be another way of solving the problem.<br />5) Practical reasoning as a source of understanding. Their ideas of what constitutes effective teaching have never been refuted but they have, by and large, been neglected. The essence of practical reasoning is to match a method to a given problem and a specific explanatory purpose. Engaging students in how to approach problems this way promises to be one of the most difficult, and at the same time, rewarding aspects of the new teaching.<br />6) Cross-cultural awareness. The teaching of any subject in any country at any time is subject to the cultural influence of that society and that time. Teaching students to be aware of such influences is extremely difficult because no teacher can escape the way her/his culture has shaped her/his own way of thinking. But in a world where awareness of cultural differences is growing, and increasing interconnectedness means that these differences have an ever-greater impact on our everyday reality, this kind of perspective is essential. Learning a foreign language would be an essential way to cultivate cross-cultural awareness. This is often seen as a luxury, an “add-on”. We would argue that it is not. Learning to speak a different language not only gives one a new and helpful ability to interact with people from the societies in which that language is used. It also helps one to understand a slightly different way of thinking.<br />7) Making use of technology. Universities should actively experiment with new teaching formats. In a world where most of what is taught in universities today will soon be publicly available online, educators have to reconsider their role in the process of education. They have to find answers to the question of what added value a good teacher provides. The various answers to this question should result in a wealth of 'educational experiments', many of which will benefit from leverageing the opportunities afforded by modern technology.<br /> <br />Appendix 3<br />Rhetoric<br />Finally, but not least, when discussing how to teach, the teaching of classical rhetoric methods must be brought back into university education. The term “rhetoric”, unfortunately, connotes flowery speech and often specious argumentation. Historically, however, the art of rhetoric was about the making of clear arguments through speech and writing. If one is effective in making an argument, one is using rhetorical skills. Unfortunately, the teaching of such skills is absent from most university education, with the direct consequence that many students – including many even at the presumed “elite” universities – simply cannot present their ideas clearly in either speech or writing. These skills desperately need to be brought back. Furthermore, rhetoric is not just about presentation; its use is essential to clear thinking. In effect, consciously thinking in rhetorical terms is an epistemological exercise: it means that you are evaluating why you think the way you do. In turn, that means that how one teaches is dependent on what is being taught. As we have argued above, there is no truth with a capital ‘T’ which is independent of the way the Problemstellung ('statement of a problem') is formulated. Usually, in real-life situations, even in the natural sciences, the way a problem is formulated – in terms of the dominant paradigm for that problem – will strongly influence what will be considered an acceptable answer. Training for making a good argument, therefore, includes a thorough grounding in the basic premises and the governing paradigms and their weaknesses. This is what in Ancient Greece was called ‘Metis’ or 'cunning reason’. If one wants to be effective in the world, one must know how to present one’s arguments, based in ‘cunning reason’, in an effective way. Rhetorical skills are essential to that process.<br />