Mr Abdul Waheed Khan, Assistant Director General for Communication & Information, UNESCO reminded us of the key challenges we face with HE. I know that these have been mentioned before, but it's well to constantly have them at the top of our minds - as these are what we must solve if HE is to be improved and sustained.

 

"if knowledge is the engine of development, then learning is its fuel."

The Challenges Of Higher Education

  • Access
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Relevance
  • Equity

Numbers, numbers, numbers

Mr. Khan helped set up a university in his native India, and in 1987 the institution was proud to boast nearly 5,000 students. In 2000, when he left, there were 1.2 million students enrolled there. Clearly a traditional approach to dealing with such numbers would falter, and it is only through innovation and ingenuity that standards are maintainable.

In India and China, we expect this kind of exponential boom of students, but it is worth noting that this is a world-wide phenomenon. In developed countries there is an Age Participation Rate of over 50%, in developing countries this is as low as 10% but growing exponentially. This trend is confirmed and elaborated on in an interesting document published on behalf of the Australian Education Sector. You can read that here.

Paradigm Shift

There needs to be more than simply improvements, renovations and additions to our current systems. We need a paradigm shift in our thinking. Mr. Khan provided a few examples here which may provide food for thought - think which are most appropriate for your environment.

  • Supply Driven -> Demand Driven
  • Taught Learning -> Flexible Learning
  • Uniform Provision -> Manifold Providers
  • Institutions -> Networks
  • Knowledge Transmissions -> Personal Learnings
  • Formal -> Informal Learning

Mindmap of the keynote

Changing Contours Of Tertiary Education

Please click the picture to enlarge

The promises of e-learning

I like lists, do you like lists? Mr. Khan was kind enough to share some of the promises of e-learning, please use these five, very persuasive bullets to stimulate an interest in e-learning in others, that they may take it seriously and look into it fully:

  • Widen access
  • Improve quality
  • Improve effectiveness
  • Offer personalised learning
  • Reduce costs

The Kronberg Declaration

Amazing amounts of knowledge are being generated every day - the amount of content produced in recent years surpasses the amount produced in human history. With the children of today born as 'digital natives', plugged in to this wealth of (sometimes) useful information, it is increasingly the job of teachers to guide and focus students - combining the new and the old. More information on how this can work, and the challenges faced by these 'digital natives' can be found in the following Educause Review.

"Knowledge acquisition and sharing will increasingly be technology mediated, and traditional educational processes will be revolutionized, said experts at a UNESCO organized event in Kronberg, Germany, recently."

The Kronberg Declaration is the summary of the event mentioned above, and is highly informative, offering strategic and long-term advice on the two related, and supremely important topics of knowledge acquisition and sharing. You can, should, and hopefully will grab a copy of the Kronberg Declaration here.

Finally

"It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent - but the ones most responsive to change"