I used to listen to podcasts of speakers at educational conferences on a fairly regular basis. This was, of course, until I came to the realization that I would fall asleep at regular intervals in the course of listening to them (I probably would have been okay with this, were it not for the fact that I was listening to them at work).
There wasn’t anything about them that was particularly awful, but I definitely noticed a tendency for them to turn into hour-and-a-half ramblings that involved dropping as many buzzwords as humanly possible.
So it was a pleasant surprise to hear this talk by Jim Groom, Brian Lamb, and Tom Woodward from the recent NMC symposium. In the format of a late-night call-in show (a la Art Bell), they host a chat with a man from the “future” to discuss where education is headed. In a word, that future is: insurance.
Just like health care, insurance becomes a necessity for obtaining an education, given both its skyrocketing cost and its importance of education in determining one’s success. Additionally, you’re protected if you can’t finish your studies, or your degree turns out to be useless in landing you a job.
During the discussion, future man also manages to rip to shreds the arguments of every wacko caller who drops all those buzzwords that we know and love.
Open education? Sounds wonderful, but higher education generates such an incredible amount of money, that it doesn’t make sense for institutions to open things up and provide instruction for free. In fact, they profit primarily from their exclusivity, the source of their prestige.
Innovation in teaching? Beaten down by standardized testing (as well as the divestiture of funding after the Zombie Apocalypse of 2012).
Technology? Google owns everything.
It’s an unsettling vision, and one I hope never comes to pass. And as silly and entertaining as it is, the sad thing is that it’s certainly plausible.
I just hope the deductible’s low.