Friday, June 5th 2015
Goucher College’s latest president, Jose Antonio Bowen, has trailblazing ideas about changing higher education today. I was fortunate to hear him speak firsthand at the recent IECA annual conference. He was beyond engaging. For those not familiar with his book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning , I highly recommend you read it. Or check out TeachingNaked.com.
He had so many important insights, especially that colleges will become obsolete if faculty and teaching methods do not incorporate and address the technology that students today take for granted. And that the college curriculum and experience must prepare students to enter the workforce.
Here are some of my key takeaways from his keynote:
- Education helps students discover how to transform themselves, to become self-regulating learners. Of note, most of the jobs you will apply to you need to learn about when you leave college, so it is important students become self-learners
- Education and learning needs to be about change; faculty have been too focused on content
- Technology requires major changes: 1. Adjusting to social proximity – professors can better engage students by thinking social media first. Students think it’s safer to start online; be where they are. 2. Customization and gaming – remember Burger King, have it your way. Students and even adults now, are used to getting what they want. Why can’t class be like plug and play?
- New technology means thinking is more important than ever. So the design of courses is paramount; Integration is critical. Professors need to make content stick
- Colleges need to make massively better classrooms, so students do not think their education can/should consist simply of MOOCs (this massive open online course movement is only 3.5 years old). Colleges need to make information that’s there, matter. College should be a transformative place for education; it’s about building character and growth.
Learning Goals should deliver what employers want: Skills matter to employers, not the major. Students should graduate with a MISSION, not a major.
- Critical thinking
- Intercultural and life skills, more important than the major
- Writing, communications, data, computer coding
Colleges need to prepare the mind for the unknown – and the jobs of the future – employers want people with more complex thinking and solving skills
The NEW model: The new professor = cognitive coach.
This Teaching Naked Cycle includes:
- Email to prepare (personal entry point)
- Content for first exposure (read/watch)
- Exams to evaluate (retrieval)
- Writing to reflect (elaborate on context)
- Class to challenge (failure, complexities)
- Cognitive wrappers for self-regulation (abstract)
- E-communication to reinforce (connections)
This model needs to be the integration of ‘A New 3 Rs’:
- Relationships (people) – build community of students and professors. When you ask alumni 40 years later about college; their greatest memory involves a professor relationship – that lasts a lifetime
- Resilience – most important skill needed post-college. Ability to fail and recover
- Reflection – critical part of learning
The real job of educators (at college) is to help students change their mind. Critical thinking matters more than ever.
The real goal of a teacher – is to be a hero, a role model. The real definition of what it means to be smart; is to have the ability to change your mind in front of others. We should find a way to measure how you changed cognitively in college.
What do parents want? For their student to get a job when they graduate college; and not move back home. Colleges need to adjoin at the hip, liberal arts and jobs.
We think Jose Antonio Bowen has an importantly strategic vision for the future of college education. We hope we can look back in 10, 15 years hence and see his vision became a (more of) reality.