Chapter 1: Fundamental Change in Education

The purpose of this chapter

When you have read this chapter you should be able to:

  • describe and discuss some of the structural social and economic changes that are affecting education in a digital age
  • describe and discuss some of the key skills that are needed in a digital age
  • identify and discuss some of the ways technology is leading to changes in teaching and learning
  • discuss the extent to which contemporary developments require changes in how we teach and how students learn

What is covered in this chapter

In this chapter, I will be discussing the pressures that are mounting on post-secondary institutions to change, particularly with regard to the way they deliver one of their core activities, teaching. I will be arguing that although our institutions will need to change if they are to survive, it is important to maintain and strengthen their core values. Thus it’s not a question of throwing out everything and starting afresh, but managing that change in such a way that the core values are protected.

In particular, this chapter covers the following topics:

Also in this chapter you will find the following activities:

  • Activity 1.1 Thinking about skills
  • Activity 1.2 What skills are you developing in your students?
  • Activity 1.4 Change and continuity
  • Activity 1.6 Dealing with diversity
  • Activity 1.8 Main conclusions from Chapter 1.

Key Takeaways from the Chapter

  • Teaching methods need to be used that help to develop and transfer specific skills that serve both the purposes of knowledge development and dissemination, while at the same time preparing graduates for work in a knowledge-based society
  • As student numbers have increased, teaching has regressed for a variety of reasons to a greater focus on information transmission and less focus on questioning, exploration of ideas, presentation of alternative viewpoints, and the development of critical or original thinking. Yet these are the very skills needed by students in a knowledge-based society.
  • The wide diversity of the student body is a major challenge for institutions. This requires more focus on teaching methods that provide support for learners, more individualization of learning, and more flexible delivery.
  • Online learning is a continuum; every instructor and every institution now needs to decide: where on this continuum of teaching should a particular course or program be?
  • As more academic content becomes openly and freely available, students will look increasingly to their local institutions for support with their learning, rather than for the delivery of content. This puts a greater focus on teaching skills and less on subject expertise.
  • Faculty and instructors need a strong framework for assessing the value of different technologies, new or existing, and for deciding how or when these technologies make sense for them (and/or their students) to use.



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Teaching in a Digital Age Copyright © 2015 by Anthony William (Tony) Bates is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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