Re: Reforming Education

Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 03:53:08 -0700 (PDT)

On 13 Oct 1999, Jeff Davis commented on the difference between the teaching of the same class at different institutions.

I'll thank Jeff (and John) for their comments and agree with them completely. I've had the opportunity to compare the "exclusive" educational environment with the "public" educational environment. In both situations I can point to both good instructors and bad instructors. The *key* difference in my mind is that in the more exclusive environment the quality of your fellow students is higher and that may provide for both a richer educational experience as well as a more competitive environment (which may be good or bad depending on your personality).

> Just as we see information technology transform other aspects of human
> activity, so must it logically transform education, which is even more
> fundamentally an information-intensive activity. The classroom, with its
> geographic, temporal, and numerical limitations is a dinosaur.

Yes, and the professors are a little scared of this. Some Univ. of Washington professors petitioned the governor to stop his investigation of methods of promoting distributed education.

> Had his thermo class been put on CD rom and offered to THE WORLD, in
> competition with whoever else thought they had the stuff, not only
> would he have made a mint, but the understanding of thermodynamics
> by anyone on the planet who needed it as part of their educational
> repertoir would have been strikingly enhanced.

Exactly. The person who makes a subject come alive should be well compensated for this. Reproducing courses in condensed inexpensive formats is the wave of the future. Why should anyone study physics from their local professor when the Feynman tapes are available?

It will be very interesting to watch what Ellison & Milken do with their educational conglomerate. This is hard to observe because it is mostly private at this point, but they clearly understand that the area of computerized education will be significant in the future and are positioning their organizations to take advantage of that.