ivory tower

Wow, it is my birthday and I am so glad to be adding another year, and as a birthday gift, one of my friends requested for a blog post from me. Sounds weird I guess? Who is given who gift here? Well, let’s just do it the reverse way this year.

I thought on what to actually write on, nothing really came to mind but there was this video that my professor made us watch in class on Wednesday, it is titled, “Ivory Tower”. This documentary film is directed by Andrew Rossi, an American Film Maker. This film raises the question, “If college is worth the cost” in America, which can be applied generally in today’s world irrespective of the country. Education is so expensive in America that a lot of young people run into debt because they want to go to school – which the student education loan makes them vulnerable to, interestingly, according to CNBC, former American President Barack Obama finished paying off his student loan debt at age 44, in the year 2005. The documentary as well discusses the role of the technology in education, with a discussion on Udacity, EDx, and Cousera, the online study centers. Also, the film discusses if dropping out of school is best as Mark Zuckerberg(Facebook), Bill Gates(Microsoft), Thiel Peter(Paypal) and Steve Job(Apple). If these guys could drop out of school why shouldn’t I be able to? This movie was the bomb, I tell you, but in all it got me thinking. Well, liberal art is a field for critical thinkers, I believe this is the reason why my professor made us watch the movie in class.

So, do you think EDx, Cousera, and Udacity should take the place of a college education? MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses, are what people are engaging in today, a lot do it because it is fast, accessible, and less expensive. Mind you the founders of these online schooling platforms are products of the university and they also worked at the best universities(MIT, Harvard) in the world before going to find these online education platforms – Sebastian Thrun (Udacity), Gerry Sussman, Anant Agarwal, Chris Terman, and Piotr Mitros (Edx quad), Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller (Cousera duo).

But can technology really change the face of education? Yes, it can but for me, it cannot take the place of a college education. The online class is all about you – the person and the slides showing on the computer and this nullifies the place of engagement which the college offers. As learners we need to engage and interact with one another; ask questions, agree and disagree with one another which is an opportunity given when learning is not personal but interpersonal.

Also, we have different types of learners, some learners need the help of their teachers and colleagues to learn. But the online classes are often recorded and are not live classes and so you do not have the opportunity to ask questions or rub off a solution given by the recorded slides hence an individual is made to follow just what is been recorded.

Most often these programs are certificate courses that do not validate that one properly went to school or is properly trained, as there are virtues to be passed on to an individual by engaging in intellectual discussions, which employers also search for, in candidates, that is looking beyond the certificates or grades.

Although we cannot disqualify the fact that these MOOCs classes are a good platform for programmers, the work of the university is to build critical thinkers, and problem solvers, which are the skills that are needed in a quality graduate.

Photo Credit: Nairaland Forum, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria Ivory Tower image.