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Telepresence a remedy for dissatisfaction with higher ed programs?

July 18, 2011 - 0 Comments

So, we’ve talked here about how telepresence can help humanize education, but I’m more and more interested in how telepresence can personalize the learning process.

According to the “Young Adults’ Perspectives on American Education 2011” study conducted by Viacom and The Associated Press, one in four young adults thinks the education system does not understand their values and goals. As a result of this disconnection to their formal education, more 18-24 year olds choose alternative approaches to higher learning, the study found. Students design self-directed curricula, incorporate internships, and teach themselves the knowledge and skills they need for their chosen paths.

If what students seek is more hands-on, relevant exposure to their future career options, telepresence could be one of the tools to bring it to them. Educational institutions could enhance their students’ experiences by facilitating telepresence connections with hospitals, boardrooms, elementary schools, auto shops, or any number of organizations or facilities where students could gain exposure to their future work environments and experts. Students could witness a “day in the life” of several different potential careers or just have a face to face conversation with someone in the field and hear firsthand the joys, challenges or even the humor in their line of work.

This collaboration-centered education outreach has been highlighted many times on the grade-school level through examples such as partnerships with museums. Higher education embraced distance learning early on, and schools are now using it to enhance students’ access to resources, and perhaps they could also leverage it to demonstrate to young adults like those surveyed that universities do want to meet their needs. Schools would attract and retain more students, and students would walk away feeling like the education system really does understand their values and goals. What do you think? How would you change higher education for the better?

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