View from the Tower

Teaching and learning has not changed much at all,
but the tools used to do so have been installed,
upgraded, patched and begun to evolve.
Where Aristotle might use a stick to draw in the sand,
now a teacher draws on a digital blackboard for one hundred grand.

Where face-to-face conversations were once needed,
online chat-rooms are monitored, sold and seated.
Now I can see and hear you talking.
Now I can raise my avatar’s hand to ask Stephen Hawking,
Any question I might think, if he answers I might get a blink.

At the very core of this discussion is the reason for evolving
as the present day model of higher education is dissolving.
Many technology geniuses are college dropouts such as
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with a net worth of $17.5 billion.
Facebook changed the world forever.
Facebook and Twitter were necessary to empower
the Arab Spring and Occupy Together.

In Tunisia, one video emerged filmed inside a hospital in the town of Kasserine:
a young man lay dead with his brains spilled clean.
Posted and re-posted hundreds of times on YouTube, Facebook, and elsewhere,
[the video] set off a wave of revulsion across North Africa and the Middle East.
Many thought or stated, You don’t want to see this, it’s horrible, but you must.
You have a moral obligation to look at what is happening, even if in disgust.

At the core of these movements is the reinvention of power structures.
The toppling of dictatorships be it governmental or corporate,
is the driving force behind these movements which were all initiated online.
All along, the price tag of a bachelor’s degree has continued to increase.
Student protests have popped up all over due to extreme tuition hikes.
These peaceful protests have been met by brute force by the police.

They question the value of student loans and the trickery of college recruiters
pulling the unwary into student loans in order to drive profit margins.
Profits never seen by the average faculty or students.
One can see how traditional learning programs might be threatened
by online learning’s rapid and exponential adaptation.
What we are seeing is an evolution of higher education.

A “Mic Check” on the ivory tower, where knowledge has for centuries
been kept from the general public through over-specialization
of research and academic elitism, disconnected from the practical,
to a more populist approach of community driven education.
Programs are being designed with the students’ needs in mind to empower.
Self-efficacy is something almost entirely new and extremely desired.

Now, professors and universities must evolve quickly
to a world that questions the value of the ivory tower,
that questions the structure of its power,
that questions if the tower should have ever existed at all
and if so how should it be rebuilt before it falls.