THE FIRST WORD THAT SPRINGS to mind in conjunction with the phrase “liberal arts education” is not “technology.” In the 21st century, however, it should.
Historically, liberal arts colleges have not placed a heavy emphasis on technology, either in the curriculum or as a teaching tool. But we hit a tipping point earlier this decade on liberal arts campuses. Not a single young person on our campus can remember life before the internet. If we don’t teach even our most traditional courses—humanities, history, literature—using today’s technology, we are probably failing as educators.
Look around a college campus today and you will be hard pressed to find a student walking around without a cell phone, MP3 player or other wireless device. With students being more on the go and tech-savvy than ever, the days of disseminating information by posting campus news on the doors of dormitory bathroom stalls and community bulletin boards are quickly coming to a close.
Higher education has become an online service industry. Students submit — and colleges accept or deny — applications online. Parents pay tuition on the web. Schools post curricula and students select courses and manage their college experiences via portals. Professors publish websites listing syllabuses, assignments and office hours. Classes, tests, and research can all be conducted online. Online services are now a necessary and expected part of campus life.
SINCE WORLD WAR I, FORT ORD IN SALINAS, CALIF., HAD BEEN AN ARMY training facility and artillery target range. Today, 15 years after the army left, the property’s main feature is a growing regional university—California State University, Monterey Bay.
IT IS A WELL-KNOWN FACT: Tutoring helps students perform better. The trick is getting them to use it. In keeping with the cyclical nature of trends, community colleges are rediscovering the advantages of student success centers, which consolidate math, writing, and language help in one place.
We know automakers are in trouble-they paid attention to what once was, instead of what will be. Could American higher ed suffer the same hubris or will we now witness a new generation of cellular teachers and learners?