Systems Thinking and the Future of Education
Short video clip on “Systems Thinking”
recorded at the Plan Fort Collins event on March 3, 2010
A recent article in iLibrarian explained it this way.
Online education seems set on its course to overtake traditional colleges within the next few decades, especially as our society becomes ever more dependent on the internet to get our work done. Thomas Frey, an expert on online education, compares our growing reliance on the education system to the reliance of ancient Romans on their numeric system. He indicates that much like the Romans, we have become increasingly reliant on our
system which is meant to pass on information from one generation to the next, hesitant to any change that may occur (explaining the rough transition to online education).
The pace of change is mandating that we produce a faster, smarter, better grade of human being, but our current systems are preventing that from happening.
Roman numerals were a system problem, and a huge one at that. They prevented an entire civilization from furthering the field of math and science.
Romans were so immersed in their numbering system that they had no clue that it was preventing them from doing even rudimentary math such as adding a column of numbers or simple multiplication or division, a feat still handled by abacus. It also prevented them from creating some of the more sophisticated banking and accounting systems and restricted academia from moving forward in areas of science, astronomy, and medicine.
Ratchet forward to today. We live in a society where virtually everything is different from the days of the Roman Empire. But what seems so counter intuitive to most is that we are even more dependent today on our systems than the Romans ever were. Most of these systems we take for granted – systems for weights and measurement, accounting, banking, procurement, traffic management, and food labeling. With each of these systems we are much like the Romans, immersed in the use of these systems to a point where we seldom step back and question the reasoning and logic behind them.
College 2.0 will witness a massive peeling apart process. Learning will become separated from the classroom. Courses will be created organically and formed around an on-demand, any-time, any-place delivery models. Professors will declare their independence and work for multiple institutions rather than just one specific college. Accreditation will shift from the Institution to the course and to the individual. And textbooks, the ink-on-paper version that we know today, will all but disappear.
More on the Future of Colleges and Universities here.