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Monday, March 7, 2011

The Pathological Quest for Easy Answers in Education Institutions

Whenever I see a university departments' requirements for innovations, I shake my head. It is as if they are setting themselves to fail.

Here are some of the recent requests from various higher ed leaders I have fielded in just one area, virtual worlds/education simulations:

  1. It has to be virtually free, yet high quality and fully supported.
  2. It has to be "proven" to work, but we will not define what the metrics are in advance that will convince us, nor will they be metrics that existing formal learning programs can meet.
  3. It has to be really, really engaging, but not a game.
  4. It has to have great graphics and sound (and other production values), but run on a seven year old, vanilla computer.
  5. It has to be different than traditional programs, yet deployable without any special skills from the instructor other than traditional classroom management skills. It has to look and feel the same as existing programs but do something different.

All of these requests come from a hope that any revolution will be neat and easy. I don't think it will be.

But maybe it is even bigger than that. Perhaps the biggest reason that innovation doesn't happen is that even the university leadership who say they want change are really just looking for an excuse to do nothing.

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