Page 47 - Campus Technology, May/June 2018
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C-Level View
cades a complete reversal of the funding of public institutions. This is, in some sense, a marker of uncertainty and lack of confidence about where that funding is going in order to produce something of use for the general citizenry and economic value for states and communities around the country.
There are questions surrounding how universities affect the economic viability of the local towns and the broader regions in which they reside. We tend to forget how powerful universities are to impact the eco- nomic vitality of their surrounding communi- ties. Getting insight into these questions could be a significant win for the institution.
CT: What are some of the more concrete changes institutions have been making or considering, to approach more rele- vance in students’ learning experiences?
Long: There is a need to move from a “city on the hill” view of the university (where deep thinking is sequestered in the isolation of the university) to a much more porous
environment — meaning that students are engaged in classrooms that are very much aligned with what they will likely be doing
in the communities, or in the businesses they will work in going forward. This might include more internships, or more engage- ment in various forms between the class- room and the problems of the “real world.” This type of environment can use real-world problems to drive disciplinary gain as op- posed to offering isolated presentations
in the discipline. It also extends to the built learning environments that are aligned with different translations of academic disciplines into associated workplaces.
Many institutions are looking at imple- menting various forms of service learning, or internships, or short-term engagement between disciplinary activities and aca- demic coursework. They may also factor in the needs of the communities the students will be living in during their term at college, drawing on the community for work experi- ence or cooperative opportunities related to the student’s discipline focus.
Institutions offering these kinds of experi- ences can maintain the connections be- tween their students’ academic programs and the problems of the world to which students need to be exposed. Some institu- tions may pursue a highly transformative ap- proach; others may offer a more incremental or hybrid strategy. Some employ creative approaches whereby industries can lever- age bench space and student workers to help them solve a real-world problem. We are starting to see diverse types of institu- tions with programs that provide this kind
of opportunity to the students as well as benefits to other partners. The question may be whether they are, as yet, as transparent as they need to be, or can be deployed as quickly as they must be.
CT: Will institutions be able to earn their relevance for the future? Or, are they perhaps already too set in their ways?
Long: Part of the role of an institution of higher education is the preservation
of community, social and academic knowledge, to transfer that from generation to generation. So, they do have to be mindful of that — they can’t just jump on new technologies because they appear to be on the cutting edge. They know that a lot of things have initial promise but then fade away. Big institutions are highly aware of that danger. But, I think we have been a little too lugubrious and slow in our approach, and that has to be balanced with more outward-looking community engagement than we’ve had so far.
And yes, technology will continue to
be an important part of change. I have always thought technology has the ability
to augment how we as humans engage
in problem-solving and find solutions to
the problems presented to us. Technology can build trust, autonomy, agency and community if built with clear expressions of our values. We’ve let the economic potential of technology overshadow its ability solve humane problems. We need to rebalance this equation.

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