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Members of The Globe and Mail's advisory panel on higher education. For more details on the panel, go to tgam.ca/re-education

Members of The Globe and Mail's advisory panel on higher education. For more details on the panel, go to tgam.ca/re-education

Chat transcript

The Globe’s advisory panel on how students learn Add to ...

By the way, from Dominic’s comments, it looks like Laurentian is doing the right sort of thing in terms of “quality”: it seems to be looking carefully at what it is doing, thinking about how it can do better, moving on that path. This needs to be done at the broad level (e.g., where the university will specialize), but also right down to the very micro level (e.g., how can we minimize the number of profs. who have reduced teaching to running through bad Powerpoint point presentations?) How do we get there? – it is not likely to happen all on its own, but bad policy could be a disaster (think the U.K. system).

Dominic Giroux:

Students do learn differently in 2012 vs 1982 (okay, I was in grade 2 then!). On the plus side: more sources of information available 24/7 to validate or contradict the classroom learning, more experiential learning with technology, more interaction with classmates inside our outside the classroom, more global perspectives. On the negative side: shorter attention span, more incentive potentially to conform to someone’s knowledge or ideas by simply cut and pasting.

I do think that most professors have adapted, otherwise students vote with their feet or let it be known in course evaluations.


Online learning

Karen Foster, Banting postdoctoral fellow in management at Saint Mary’s University:

I think some of the resistance to "new" teaching methods is that tired old idea that today’s student is overly “entitled” – that somehow by embracing new technologies and accommodating different learning styles is coddling. The fact is, these new technologies and processes are going to be in the workplace and other realms of daily life. Might as well prepare students for that.

John Stackhouse:

To Karen’s point about new technologies, there is a lot of debate about giant online courses and the benefits for students and institutions. What’s preventing your institutions from diving in further?

Sara Diamond:

Massive online courses appear to be most successful in delivering cohort-based learning that is technical and easily modularized. Successful experiments require support systems around the edges of collaborative spaces, support from human experts. Not all subject matter adapts to massification. Students who fall behind do not do well in the massive online environment. One of the challenges of the 21st century is that we need diverse learners with diverse perspectives to solve complex problems. We need to build the critical capacities of students. This is not the way that massive online learning works.

Hossein Rahmama, research and innovation director at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone:

I think the problem with online learning and ICT [information and communication technology] in Education is that we think it should replace our classrooms rather than complimenting it. We need more like a Transmedia strategy for our classrooms. Parts of the information should come from professors and parts from iPads, laptops and phones. Replacing classrooms with tablets and phones may be a disruptive decision for another 10 years and may negatively impact our accredited institutions.

Robert Luke:

Hossein: I don’t think this view holds any more. I started working in online learning back in 1994 or so, and certainly the “digital diploma mill” view was common. But when MIT launched Open Courseware in 2001, they put the lie to content online and reinforced presence as the real value. People will always want options – online learning is an excellent vehicle for some topics and some people. The real issue is how are we going to augment education to make the best use of available media.

Hossein Rahmama:

Robert, I totally agree with your points. We need to keep our sound scientific/invention engine but build new processes for experiential learning in which companies can collaborate more with universities around products and commercialization. And of course each discipline is different, Health Sciences should be managed completely differently than ICT.


Community service

Iglika Ivanova, economist and researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

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