Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Big Brother and Studying: What's Wrong with Education I

CourseSmart is a new tool for university professors which allows them to track a students reading in e-texts.  Apparently it's a coming thing, but it seems to me to be just another symptom of the problems with higher education today.

The tool might have some use in high school, but by the time someone hits university he or she should have figured out how to study and if that hasn't been done, there's nothing like a bad grade as a wake up call. 

These texts are going to cost more than standard texts too, which means more money for the publisher (and probably not for the people who develop the content, but that's another story.)  Given the debt load of university graduates, more expenses are not what is needed. In Canada the average graduate finishes with $20,000 in debt which will take 14 years to pay off.  The figure is higher in the US.

What may be better is to rethink the idea of what a university education means.  According to a recent OECD study, slightly under 40 per cent of young people in both Canada and the US  finish post secondary degrees.  (The Slovak Republic heads the list with about 60 pe cents, followed by Ireland with about 50 per cent.)  And what use has all this education meant in terms of creating successful citizens in all senses of the term?  Since both  the US and Canada have sizeable groups that subscribe to ideologies that deny a scientific approach to the world, I'd give their  systems of higher education questionable marks.

Tracking e-reading isn't likely to change that much.

No comments: