Is the internet making university obsolete?

I have been reading about this topic a lot lately and seeing it popping up various places. Not only that but many of my university friends are speaking and posting about this as well. So the question is, will universities become obsolete soon?

I somehow doubt this. Yes it is true that vast amounts of so called free on-line universities have been appearing lately, as well as on-line paid universities, but I believe that many people are too set in their old ways and traditions (and those of their parents) for the traditional land based/ physical campus based university to die out any time in the near future.

Also, many can argue that the overall free knowledge acquirable over the internet has made all forms of university studies old fashioned and out dated but I think that most people prefer having some physical proof of “their knowledge” in the form of a university degree/diploma they can frame.

 I must say though that I find the ideas of self education and free education (such as that being offered at free on-line universities) very appealing. Just do an internet search and you will see what I am talking about. But I doubt that these trends will be picking up any time soon.

The general discussions flying around concerning so called “self’-education”(educating yourself via internet searches, and free on-line educational resources) and free on-line education (such as that offered by free on-line “universities”), is that these will become the preferred method/methods of “studying” due to factors such as poor service delivery, horrid study conditions and the overall high cost of university studies that do not guarantee a higher salary or even a job these days. But, as I said above, I really think it is highly unlikely that “self-education” and on-line universities both free and paid for, will be taking over the traditional university any time soon. What do you think?

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Academics Can Kill Your Sanity 2016

Edit: I recently found and tried www.udemy.com, which is a website on which anyone can enrol for fairly cheap courses about virtually anything they can think of. The courses are created by people who have expertise in the said fields. You will even find some free courses in the prospective fields you choose to explore. This website is a good example of a “self educating” resource that many people make use of. Why not try Udemy out for yourslf and let us know what you think about internet education as opposed to your university studies?

The increase in poor study conditions and service delivery at many universities

In the last two weeks since my last posting, I have been doing research regarding study conditions and service delivery at various institutions of higher learning. The reason for this being I got to thinking about all the extra hurdles students have to face outside of their academic challenges.

Let me just start by stating that I in no way wish to name and shame any academic institution in South Africa, or Internationally by writing this post and I am in no way referring to any specific institution. I am just merely stating information I have gathered during my research into the topic.

I took the time to speak face to face and on-line with various students both locally and internationally and found an amazing trend of similar issues regarding study conditions and service delivery. Some of these issues include:

1. Class sizes that are too large for the lecturers to give any individual student much needed one on one personal guidance, support and attention. Why this still happens is beyond me. In education studies we learn that classroom sizes are to be kept small enough so that each student/learner can receive individual attention, yet in practice this never happens.

2. Lack of modernisation in traditional universities as well as on-line universities. Many universities are still found to be stuck on old, outdated “traditional” methods of tuition as opposed to new methods that are proven to work. A good example of this is the fact that most universities still make use of traditional written examinations which don’t really test the students abilities or knowledge. A more modern approach (that is proven to work) would be practical experience and testing methods. Many students get left behind with traditional instruction and testing methods since these methods do not cater for various learning styles. I will never forget one particular student when I was studying. He was absolutely brilliant and understood all our subject matter so well that he landed up explaining most of it to us. Yet come exam time he almost failed. Why? He could not write very fast and could only do about half the written exams in the time given (two hours). This was something I found to be challenging as well, since I too cannot write very fast (unless I want my written work to come out as one big illegible mess). Why on earth universities do not let their students type out their examinations is beyond me, or better yet, why aren’t all written examinations replaced by portfolio type assignments?

3. Lack of contact, support and service from on-line learning institutions. Many students complained about how they receive almost no feedback of any sort regarding any questions or issues they may have, how lecturers are mostly unreachable via telephone or e-mail, how on-line systems are “down” most of the time and how study materials were poorly structured.

Do any of you out there face any similar issues? Or can you add anything new to the list? It will be very interesting hearing about some of the challenges you all face regarding study conditions and service delivery at the university or learning institution you study at, or even issues you faced in the past when studying. Please just bear in mind that we are not here to name or shame any institutions so please do not refer to your institution of study by name.

So start commenting and let the discussion begin.

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Academics Can Kill Your Sanity 2016

Is it even worth it to study further?

Since my last posting regarding passions and fields of study worth pursuing, I did some more thinking. This brought up the question, “is it even worthwhile to study further?”

This bothered me quite a bit and so I decided to do some research.

I made a list of  twenty people whom I know and who have finished some or other level of University training. Some have Bachelor Degrees, some have Masters Degrees, and others have Doctorates. I decided to have a little chat with each one, and here is what I discovered:

1. All agreed that they regret the personal time they lost whilst studying. Such as missing out on family events, not being there for loved ones, not having any time for themselves, missing out on their children’s lives, etcetera etcetera. The list goes on and on. When I asked them if they think it was all worthwhile in the end, they all said they were not sure because they can never get that time back, even though they have their degrees now.     2. Most agreed that the modules/subjects they studied have not been of any value in their professions. Now this is something I have experienced as well with education studies. Most of the modules I completed were of no use to me during my relief teaching or practical teaching periods and had absolutely nothing to do with how a real school or classroom functions. Even the methods we were taught to use when doing lesson plans, assessments and curriculum planning were not in use in any of the schools I had been to. 3. Fourteen agreed that the salary they are currently receiving was/is not worth the amount their studies cost them in the end. It is interesting to note that eighteen of the twenty admitted that they are still paying off their studies.

Okay, so far it would seem like studying is not worthwhile, however when I asked all twenty people what they think the benefits of their studies are/were, I got the following answers:

 1. All mentioned the joy they felt when they finally completed their studies and got to  graduate. They likened this feeling to having a child or getting married.                                2. All mentioned the sense of accomplishment they feel.                                                      3.  All mentioned how much better people treat them since they have graduated.              4. Most agreed that they have found it easier to get employment since graduating.

This little research exercise helped me a lot and I recommend it to anyone who is in doubt, but who is already leaning towards a “yes” or “no” answer. The only problem is that in my case I have no idea if it is worthwhile for me or not (since the yes/no equation is perfectly 50/50 with me).

So, the question still remains, “is it worthwhile to study further?”

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Academics Can Kill Your Sanity 2016