How Does a University Create Value for Their Students: Does Current Practice Do This?

Recent blogging regarding university tenure processes and journal peer review processes are a reminder of how contestable knowledge production can be; especially if knowledge is not used as a tool for acting, but becomes the commodity of value itself.  It seems that the processes are corrupting the intent.  As a social scientist, I think academics in general are looking at the wrong things and seeing the world in the wrong way.

The only current educational alternative seems to be the University of Phoenix model, which seems less than desirable.  I’ve been an advocate of increased standardization for many educational tasks (As opposed to each teacher recreating the wheel for standardizable tasks.  This, according to Joshua Kim, seems to be what U of P is doing.)  But, this type of standardized learning also occupies the lowest rung on the educational value chain.

The problem is that the traditional university does is not doing much better.  I believe the biggest problem is in the infrastructure (and this includes tenure, peer review, culture and many other support structures).  Current infrastructures were created for a different world.  Our current world needs something new.

Higher education should be re-thought alone the lines of how they do , or could, create value in the lives of their students and other stakeholders.  I would love to be involved in a staged approach

  • Stage 1. Standardized processes where students acquire background concepts and skill sets.
  • Stage 2.  Internships; real jobs, created in collaborative efforts between universities and employers, structured to exist in conjunction with seminar like courses focusing on higher level cognitive, intellectual and experience development.
  • Stage 3. Ongoing lifelong alumni networks and post-graduate courses design to add value to working professionals, maintain previous skill sets, and to stay current on new developments.  The final end output is not an individual student, but a network.  An employer would not only hire an individual, but also an entire network of resources.  Now that would be of real and lasting value.   (For more on hiring a network and social capital, see Josh Letournea’s post on the Fistfull of Talent blog.)

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