THE FUTURE OF HIGHER
(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)
Volume I - Chapter Nine
(Last revised onMay 3, 2008) In Chinese following the bibliography
OF COMMUNITY AND TECHNOLOGY COLLEGES
Community colleges have sought to provide young people with the education and skills needed in their own communities. Now that is going to be a continuing need of people of all ages, lilfelong education in the emerging era in which many people will frfequently change jobs across a lifetime. On one hand (1.6) that will mean learning much more about an individual's talents and needss. On the hand it will require needing to know more about society's changing needs.
In any case global higher lifelong education for all, taking a bottom-up approach, begins with regions and neighborhoods. (Note also the research chapter on planetary governance 2.15). In Volume II we also discuss some possibilities in poverty areas such as Africa south of the Equator and for large urban areas.) Whether planning for a rural African community or a sophisticated urban neighborhood, educators should begin with existing networks of people rather than attempting to impose an electronic structure from outside. This can involve simulation games in which learners can study their rural or urban neighborhoods. Heinrich (in Foreman 2004a) has reported that many community colleges are beginning to have `game development programs that are `breeding a generation of doers," students who can begin to "create their own learning environments" for the forthcoming digital decade in education..
In this chapter we discuss a community college model for global virtual higher education that is rooted in the local community and closely tied to its needs. This bottom-up model therefore includes vocational and technological colleges and those urban institutions that focus on local needs and problems. Such a consortium would—as many community and urban colleges do now—seek close relationships with business and industry, to serve the job training and continuing education needs of all employees. This also means basic education and skills training in technology schools, agricultural schools, community colleges and urban universities. It also is likely to require very different ways to help each individual learn, on his or her own initiative, what they need to know. Note <http://www.learningtimes.net/league.shtml>.
This kind of global strategy would seek to reconstruct a bottom-up scenario for restructuring, re-inventing, redesigning (lifelong, not just higher) education and neighborhoods themselves.. While some top-down administration is inevitable, this model proposes a global structure that would be bottom-up, in a “seamless, cradle to grave education program. It might begin and be enabled by making available all available information on each urban neighborhood and rural community in the world. Jose Silvio in an online discussion suggests that `local' higher education institutions should all "seek to provide community development" to eradicate poverty and rural isolation, through the use of `virtual mobility' and `mobile learning."
Satellite photos, for example, as other layers of data are added to the information, can provide helpful data on any neighborhood and region. Community Colleges generally serve a small region and a global virtual network of community and tech colleges could focus on the needs of small regions all over the world and on the needs of each individual there. (Note, for example CARES (1.3.2) Such information on needs, problems, economic potential and resources could provide the basis for a a bottom-up education strategy in which every unique individual could find opportunity and job skills. As Utsumi has pointed out, `small regions’—such as desert areas that have limited economic resources—can be places where people work at home via the Internet, as many prisoners now do; for example, processing information and other kinds of work that can be done anywhere for international companies.
Thus a planning strategy could be developed in every community, rural or urban neighborhood with specialized education available to help local leaders meet its unique needs for health care, housing, water and ecology problems, for community cultural enrichment and for education for people of all ages. This requires an economic development focus whereby education helps people use existing resources--or where necessary bring in outside resources--for the development of adequate local incomes. Many people already work far from a home office when a company in one country employs people in another. This suggests how local education--connected to global virtual educational resources—can train local people who wish to do so to stay in their own community, with their own language and culture, and work for a company or project on another continent.
A global virtual consortium of community and local tech colleges could divide up curricular and course development strategies to make it possible for anyone in any location to secure locally what is needed (such as continual job re-training). Another test of the effectiveness of the consortium, and its local affiliations, would be its success in developing leadership, job skills and motivation to deal locally and effectively with the major human problems and crises discussed here in volume II.
and teechnical colleges might thus have a key place in emerging global virtual
higher education by expanding their role in providing skills for the local job
market by cooperating, for example, with secondary schools in studying the
needs, potential and possibilities of the geographic region each college serves.
An effort could be made to create a community/tech college in every such
`area’ in the world; one that would work closely with communities through
local `telecenters.” (Fuchs 2000) often at local community learning centers.
While those neighborhood centers (see chapter 2.18 and
1.9.3) would serve
every individual in the neighborhood, they could especially focus on bringing in
from the world all the resources needed to help each learner develop life
goals, find a job plan, perhaps even a `calling,’ and develop a educational
program to meet those plans and goals.
Elsewhere we have stressed lifetime education and the fact that the 18-24 year olds are now a minority in higher education. In this `community college’ model we look at higher education from another perspective. A high percentage of the world’s population does not yet have needed educational opportunities. Many are bitter and despairing—which may create future terrorism problems for human society. The community college can be seen as the place to correct that, with a global focus which, for example, could enable a small ethnic community keep many young people at home, developing and enriching their own culture, language and traditions, while participating in the emerging global economy.
O’Donnell (2001) points out that distance education in the 1990’s too often “pursued an unimaginative extension of traditional forms,” simply using new technologies to continue old ways of teaching. Now, however, rather than merely passing on information and skills to an adolescent generation, new technologies increasingly make it possible for individuals to take initiative in planning a lifelong learning program to meet their own unique needs. This chapter's model wishes to push beyond that, to help learners study their own community and its needs with a new seriousness and initiative. Learners in the first decades of the 21st century may find themselves living in one of the most difficult periods of history—as they face the possibility of major catastrophes in ecology, global hunger, poverty and terrorism—but they also face the future with tools to solve these problems on a global scale, as never before in history. And increasingly learners are in touch with each other across national borders, and this `touch’ is probably only just the first experimental beginnings of what is likely to become vast networking between schools, between learners who share the same interests and concerns, and may give a new power to learners as a more mature and educated generation assumes leadership at home and in the service of global needs. A bored and impatient generation may become empowered to solve the problems of local neighborhoods—as well in the service of global needs--rather than drifting into the swamps of slum cities.
Steve Talbott (http://www.oreilly.com/stevet/netfuture) points to a consensus that emerging information age technologies foretell the end of higher education as we have known it, but that does not mean the end of colleges and other institutions, but rather “the end of an old regime’s shortcomings.” For a long time now, he points out, it has been thought that adequate education merely involves the transfer of information from one data base or brain to another. This “fact-shoveling” model of teaching “can hardly hope to compete successfully with computers in that sterile game.” If transfer of knowledge is the goal of education then teachers, and even students, can become superfluous since “it is more efficient to transfer information from one computer to another” than to a mind. Also if transfer is the purpose of education then students can soon at any time buy a superior package for accomplishing that from a business firm. It is high time, he says that educators see that this fact-shoveling, assembly-line, standardized credentializing model of education ”leaves little room for schools or ultimately for students.” The better model, he says, is not in the classroom, not even in the wired classroom. Every individual, he reminds us, “follows a unique path through this world, and the teacher’s failure to enter upon that path with the student is a failure to teach This failure also makes any profound assessment of the student’s performance impossible.”
Walking the hard path with the student, he says—and we will turn to this again in Volume III—is likely to change the teacher as much as the student as they both becoming learners together. And it will not be an easy task for institutions either, until they all become collaborating learners together also. Locally it means that there must be entirely new kinds of neighborhood 24-hour-a-day schools--with all kinds of online and multimedia resources--to deal with what many see as a lost generation of entertainment culture dominated youth. (Powell 1996) The Union of South Africa initially provided an interesting case because, as in America, India and China the developing and underdeveloped world exist there side by side with the developed world. The report of a two-year study in the 1990's asked how electronic media and modern telecommunication systems could assist…South Africa in solving some of the critical problems.” Spier (1991) asked how the imaginative application of electronic media might assist South Africa in solving pressing problems such as these: incrfeasingly
To address such problems, a nonprofit “Learning Network Cooperative” (LNC) was proposed to train subject experts in designing electronic courseware in a team contest and to produce such courseware for all subjects where there is a large demand, shortage of teachers, and marketability of the skill or knowledge, It was also proposed to establish `Community Learning Centers equipped with workstations capable of transmitting the courseware (called Tele-Centers below) as well as Corporate Learning Centers in which employees of business corporations could provide courses on a decentralized basis (for example, the NTU model from chapter 1.2. which the South African report saw as “the most impressive model for tertiary education using electronics”).
To accomplish these objectives developing nations need the support of partners in the developing countries, more adequate international support and cooperation which UNESCO has been encouraging.
McMurtrie (2001) wrote about “Community Colleges becoming a force in developing nations worldwide.” In developing countries, she reports, community colleges are a new phenomenon since higher education has usually been only for the elite. Now, however, as in industrial nations, new technology skills are everywhere needed for the information age. McMurtrie reported, for instance, that Luwan Community College in China has no building. It uses a high school vocational school for evening classes. The college’s president, however, hoped that the college can become a place “where older adults can take computer classes, where the unemployed can be retrained” and where talented people—in a program which cooperates with Shanghai Teacher’s College, can prepare for a second chance at university admission, a neglected idea in most developing countries. China, she reports, has many three-year vocational colleges but so far they had “little connection to local economic needs.” So an institution located in one of the poorest regions in China was reaching out to Bronx Community College in New York and Mesa Community College in Arizona., with help from the Ford Foundation..
Many in Africa, Latin America and Asia, McMurtrie reported, look to vocational education programs in countries like Germany, but each year hundreds of visitors come from developing countries also come to visit American community colleges. “Tailored to their nations political and economic situation, the community college systems being created vary greatly from country to country.” Mexico, she reported, had created a network of 44 two-year technological colleges in close cooperation with business and industry. Internships are required of all students and the skills required give them good jobs on graduation.. In Chiapas where the focus is on agricultural skills, courses are taught in the native Indian language.
The consortium we are discussing here would need to develop local, national and global collaboration among government institutions, business programs and efforts of the community and religious organizations. In India the Roman Catholic Church established 61 community colleges in the 1990’s in cooperation with “Sinclair Community College in Ohio and the Eastern Iowa Community College district.” They have provided courses in auto repair, for example, often using borrowed facilities and volunteer teachers. They provided “basic skills training to more than 2,000 poor people during a five year period,” often in cooperation with businesses which “help develop curriculum, provide internships and send employees to teach classes.” While they need government support, the success of these community colleges lies in their ability to be flexible, serving all kinds of students who could not meet government standards and prerequisites for admission to higher education institutions.
South African businesses are investing in technical schools to provide skills so as to reduce the country’s high unemployment rate. The face the dilemma that, as in many developing countries, government education officials are “ill-equipped to run a college.” And those that exist still adhere to the elitist, often snobbish view, that neglects basic and skills education for the poor. “American community colleges,” McMurtrie concludes, “have been proven eager to share their knowledge with institutions abroad. “ Some have initiated faculty exchanges, to bring overseas community college instructors to America for more training. Others have partnerships with “vocational colleges in places like Kenya and Sri Lanka.” The International Consortium for Education and Economic Development has brought technology schools in Mexico into relationships with community colleges in the United States and Canada. She quotes the director of international education programs at Arizona’s Maricopa Community College as saying that American community colleges value overseas partnerships as a means of curriculum development, not just to provide opportunities for faculty to go abroad.
Our question here, however, is how to move beyond these individual relationships to create the structure for a global virtual community-college-type system that could play a major role in bringing essential education to everyone in the world. For a global virtual community college consortium--with extension and distance education links--to bring needed education to impoverished rural and urban neighborhoods must there be physical campuses? Or could a great deal of money be saved by making such institutions mostly virtual? Would it help to create computer simulations, models for such a virtual college? Or can we find some models that already exist? How can there be more effective partnerships with secondary schools?
One proposal has been the `Africa Virtual Community College,’ a plan for education for development, using information technology networking. This Education for Development and Democracy Initiative (EDDI) grew out of a three year dialog between educators and business people in Ghana and the United States and included conversations with “government officials, academics, church and business leaders students and officials of USAID. Out of these discussions grew the idea of an African Virtual Community College. (There already is an African Virtual University.) It would use information technology to provide more higher education opportunities for African high school graduates, only a fraction of whom can be accommodated in existing institutions. The plan was to enable them to enroll directly in cooperating American Community Colleges without having to leave their homes. They would provide the kinds of technical and vocational education that is needed in their communities.
There also was discussion of how to provide for mutual exchange and support, including a plan to link all relevant groups in Africa to their counterparts in America so as to create
The American structure for involving in the project could be a consortium of Community Colleges, institutions that would work together to enrich their own American programs as well as to create `virtual learning communities’ and social networks to link Africans with Africans and also between Africa and other nations. This experiment in practical global education “would assume that a college is more than a collection of courses; it is a complex environment for learning that includes human resources—librarians and counselors as well as teachers; intellectual resources—books and films and labs; and spaces for learning—offices and seminar rooms as well as classrooms and lecture halls.”
In this model, each African nation would have its own online campus, such as the Ghana Virtual Community College or the Rwanda Virtual Community College. Each online virtual campus would be structured to have an academic center, a library, a counseling center and other `virtual centers’ to be determined locally, such as a Woman’s Center or perhaps a “Center for Micro Industries.” Matching this, each college in the cooperating American consortium would also have its own virtual campus—in addition to its physical campus. The virtual library for example could then be linked to the African virtual colleges.
This model, developed cooperatively in each culture would be different from most conventional distance education programs that European and American institutions now offer overseas because of its Pan-African two-way sharing and exchange. Also, instead of just being course sharing, the plan for initial experimentation between Ghana and California would emphasize `social networks of dialog’ among and with Africans. As African and American students meet in classes online relationships can be created that can persist and “lead to economic growth and job generating activities.”
Since “virtual buildings online” can be relatively inexpensive, the virtual college could “have a growing group of specialized facilities to house conferences, workshops and institutes that connect African groups to their counterparts in America and other nations.” Much of the initiative would come from local groups in Africa who define their own needs with new forums and programs developed “that connect directly to African interests.” American Community Colleges “typically offer development and remedial education” and the same could be provided for African students “with deficits in literacy and numerancy” as well as instruction in other languages.
In this context, programs for the learner would be planned to meet individual and community needs in an active partnership and continuing dialog with employers and the neighborhood learning coopeeratives understand of local needs. The foundation for a locally-developed basic education curriculum for all ages and educational needs--pre-school to higher education—could be made available in the local dialect and adapted to area culture. It first of all should be developed to meet local needs, then the needs of society and the culture. It would be adaptable also to the needs of the individual learner. (In all cases involving education courses, modules and resources from elsewhere in the world as appropriate and adaptable.)
Ultimately every village and neighborhood would need a “tele-center or `community learning center,’ and many of them are already coming into existence.
1.9.2. NEIGHBORHOOD LEARNING
CENTERS (See 2.18)
So we begin locally by proposing a neighborhood model for the future community education center. Perhaps it will begin as a tele-center at a neighborhood school which gradually enlarges its educational offerings for adults also, in cooperation with the area’s virtual community college.’ It can be empowered by use of X-O computers (see 3.7) that continually improve.
There was a proposal in Oregon, some years ago, for a statewide center that, among other things, would franchise local stores in every community to sell and rent such software and equipment. The store would also provide access on an hourly fee basis—whether for children, business people, or adult study and action groups—to any and all of the world s 10,000 computer networks and hundreds of thousands of data bases on all subjects (also see Ditlea (1990). Does that suggest a useful model for making such connections and equipment available in poor communities and countries? There, for example, if it cost one person ten dollars an hour to connect to global ecology data bases and to rent the equipment for research there, a club of local ecologists could share the cost, ten people at a dollar each, or a hundred people at ten cents each. Teachers and students could thus rent high-quality educational hardware and software—videodiscs and multimedia textbooks-and could access on-line library services, even from distant countries, by paying a low cost per minute.
The electronic resources needed by neighborhood learning centers would vary from region to region and country to country. A first model was the “rural tele-service and information center” built in Denmark in 1985 which then began to spread across Scandinavia. Some were located in libraries or schools, and some in remodeled houses, whatever is adequate to provide work space for computers, modems, printers, VCRs, fax machines, and a great variety of software. These centers were widely used in communities as small as a thousand people for distance education, information services, teleconferencing, and consultation. Because of the success of these centers in helping enrich and transform rural life, for example, in towns too small to have schools, an Association of TeleService Centers was formed with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2.18 we report on the increasing number of tele-centers in the developing world.
Nicolas Negroponte of MIT once suggested in Wired
magazine that the place to begin reconstructing education would be with that half of the world’s schools that have a one room school and one
teacher for all ages. Many
educators consider those largely rural one room schools as inferior. In fact,
some may often be superior to large poverty area urban schools. One room schools may become
models for much future electronic education once the local
teacher/guide/counselor can make use of vast educational resources which can be
adapted to the need of each individual learner
The rural one room school has a small, personal environment which
potentially can produce a rich learning experience.
Older pupils help the younger and each is likely to work on each subject
at his or her own level. They are likely to be close to parents. For these and
other reasons Negroponte would make it a high priority to put digital
technology in all of these schools worldwide. This might be the most
significant anti-poverty program conceivable. (1.3.7)
This was recently the conclusion of a group of scientists and scholars
whose primary education had been in one room rural schools. They decided that
they had received an education superior to what their children were experiencing
in sophisticated suburban schools. For one thing, the whole community was
involved in the small school. For those who do not have computers or the
technology to access the education they need,
such centers can also have “fax machines, CD-ROMS as well as
the necessary communications connectivity.” Also, while many African
students, for example, speak English, provision for translating programs into
other languages can in time be provided through computerized automatic
So this chapter examines a model in which tomorrow’s `one room rural school’ is an electronic learning center for everyone in the neighborhood; school age pupils during the day and ac learning center for adults evenings and week ends. The Internet could then provide any kind of needed education, including graduate degrees as well as literacy teaching and basic agricultural skills, so as to meet the need of any local learner. In Volume II it is suggested that as neighborhood community organizations are restructured, the creation of many “learning cooperatives’ related to the neighborhood school and area community college may be the place to begin. The organizations that are being created to facilitate the emergence of electronic global education are also giving lip service to “cradle-to-grave” education. They also begin to propose developing for villages a `knowledge system’ created for that purpose with maps of what exists and what is needed, and with links to what can be most helpful. <http://www.world-links.org and http//www.worldbank.org/worldlinks/>
A retired college president who has been involved in developing a virtual global community college model sees it helpful to remember the `university extension idea’ and how it spread it around the world. It is important, he says, to see a global federation or consortium community colleges as having a vertical rather than horizontal integration, colleges working with other colleges without an overhead umbrella of control . In this model, he says—and this is probably true of all distance education and global education strategies—“we need to do more to popularize the idea of `information float;’ that is the time it takes for a new development to get new ideas and programs” into those places around the world that can receive the idea and move it into their communities. And this requires strong roots in neighborhoods and local communities. In Africa, he reports, much initiative is coming from church and other religious organizations in the local community.
A neighborhood learning center could stimulate initiative by the individual learner (and the family for children) to define needs and take initiative in her/his own education planning. Every neighborhood and village school/library could become a seven day a week, 24 hours a day electronic learning center, used by children during the day, for `business’ in the late afternoon , for adults at night and week ends. Short courses during school vacations to help individuals plan their next steps in lifelong education.
Fifteen community colleges in Illinois tested a support center concept during the project's first year and established the following six essential criteria that defined all forty‑plus Centers: access to computers and the Internet: Access to technical support; Access to libraries, Advising; and Marketing. (see http://www.ivc.illinois.edu/StudentCenter/Map.htm" Each college used existing physical spaces; such as academic advising centers, computer labs, libraries, and testing centers.
To achieve such goals, a global consortium, a network of community colleges could offer models and experience, shared from one country to another, in what technology can do and not do, possibilities that can encourage a conservative educational bureaucracy (which exists in nearly all countries) to understand and support some experiments; and some demonstrations of how to make electronic education and connections affordable. The challenge would be to move towards a “learning society” which brings education into every home and enhanced educational opportunities into every school and learning center;
This is but one illustration of possible areas of sharing.. Funding is not adequate to extend education to all as the world’s population grows from six to perhaps ten billion people. However, efforts can move ahead for two reasons.
Sharing knowledge and Skills. Human beings have long known that much more can be done with limited resources if everyone collaborates and shares. Second, there is no shortage of what is most needed: knowledge and skills. The supply is almost unlimited. Indeed, the more knowledge and skills are shared, the more there is! More importantly, forthcoming information technology will make possible some new kinds of sharing with other community colleges without reducing the amount or extent of knowledge in the giving institution. Further, as suggested in Chapter Six, shared resources can be greatly enriched as each Community College or Technical School develops expertise in one specialty and to share with other Colleges globally. This can be the foundation for a drastic global retooling of outmoded educational programs and institutions, just as factories have to be retooled for a changing global economy?
A suggestive model for such sharing is already provided by many interlibrary loan systems. If a local library does not have a requested book, it turns first to the area consortium of libraries, then to the state library, and to the libraries of universities. However, that analogy cannot be pressed very far, as the needed kind of book may not be available or may be of poor quality. How is better education—excellence—to be share from one continent to another
Sharing Encouragement and skills with `Teachers” (or neighborhood learning facilitators.) A major contribution of a global community college consortium may in some cases be the provision of master teachers and to demonstrate that, at least when necessary, the master teacher can be in another town or another country. The technicians who keep the system operating may also be in another town or another country. Mageau (1991) foresaw such desirable outcomes as
--inspiring and motivating tired teachers;
--being a catalyst for reforms in education;
--providing sustained training to help everyone use new technology successfully;
--helping equalize opportunity for all learners students, and
--helping everyone see the centrality of learning as the key to human survival.
Sharing of `Borrowed’ Facilities. An American film corporation that was planning to build “multi-media entertainment complexes” in many developing countries, with “state of the art” digital technology for downloading prize fights or rock concerts while they occur, once suggested that during free times their centers might be loaned to provide developing countries with teacher training and specialized courses. If the latest films could be sent instantaneously from Hollywood or Europe, then why shouldn’t such facilities--generally used only evenings and weekends, be shared for education?
The same idea should not apply only to major corporations. Many developing world neighborhoods could insist that technology for business and medicine that comes into their neighborhoods should also be shared for education when not otherwise being used. State-of-the-art electronic materials, downloaded via satellite onto videotape and laser disc—perhaps on the model of an “education utility”—might thus in time be made available to even the poorest schools.
Sharing Courses. As with other small colleges many consortium members could develop a specialty to share with a larger constituency. One school might share a course in health education, or ecology, or in citizenship education with special electronic connections to agencies of government. One might specialize as a crafts/arts center (including computer art, using new software to learners in any rural area to compose or to preserve the music of their local culture. Another might prepare a course on job finding, including information on apprenticeship, counseling, preparing for an online job interview and so forth.. One might provide a course on how to help the disabled, hospitalized, imprisoned, or homebound students get education with on-line courses and tutoring available on a seven-days-a-week basis. Not having to prepare every course, faculty teams on each consortium campus could create at least one unique course for sharing globally. It might be a course on the history and culture of its state or region or in some other special area of expertise.
January 2002 saw the launch of a joint venture between Seattle Community College—which had 51,000 students—and several tele-course producers. Thirty Broadband Internet courses were being offered via streaming video to over 900 institutions worldwide. (http://www.iriseducation.org>. Science, social science and business courses were among the initial offerings. Individuals in the developing world will find it expensive and must have DSL or cable, so these first courses are expected to be used by institutions. This experiment points the way ahead, however, to new technological possibilities for providing education for all. Educause Review, in September 2001 reported that eight community colleges—in the Alliance of Community Colleges for Electronic Sharing—were saving large sums of money through cooperative projects, for example paying only $27,000 rather than $216,000 for needed software.
Especially in poorer countries and `third-world-type’ districts of cities, the heart of educational retooling may begin by using secondary schools as regional computer/resource centers. They might have a lending library of computers, videodisc players, multi-media textbooks, and software for composing music or making films. The regional center might also provide services like counsel in the repair of technology, in operating electronic equipment, as well as help for those who need to function in a technological society but who do not wish to prepare for a trade. Through electronic connections to the virtual community college—as well as to online `peace corps technicians,’ such a district center could help with purchasing the right technology that retooled neighborhood schools are going to need.
Many public school districts have are developed media centers, with the active cooperation of business corporations which are developing very sophisticated technology for schools. (See the advertisements in the T.H.E. (Technology Horizons in Education) Journal. Such a center's first task is training teachers, for example, to use tools like a video encyclopedia—which includes film and video clips of major historical events-and other sophisticated resources. The center s software will make it possible for a teacher to line up segments in advance to be delivered at specific times to a particular class. It is not science fiction to suggest that such facilities and programs can be electronically interconnected for sharing, at first perhaps for poorer schools around the world to use at off-hours.
A philosophy of self-directed, individualized education can empower people to create wealth and jobs--so they can pay for better education, homes, health care--and to bring cultural enrichment into all lives and communities. So a global virtual Community College model must include more than technology and exchange of courses. An adequate model will also provide for an entirely new kind of learning to replace the rote memorization and lecture method of so much existing education. Some experimentation in this direction can be seen in the “Learning College” program of the League for Innovation in the Community College. It can focus on “life goals” and especially on teaching students “how to learn.” (Jamilah 2001) http://www.pbs.org/als/revolution/tools/index.html, http://www.league.org/league/projects.lep/
A `learning’ community college, as contrasted with a `teaching’
college is defined by several changes that turn conventional college courses
upside down. It seeks to change the usual understanding of how individuals learn
by seeking to engage “learners as full partners in the learning process” and
requiring them to assume full responsibility for their choices. This expands the
options available to learners; assists them in forming and participating in
“collaborative learning activities;” defines the job and roles of teachers
as `learning facilitators’ who are guided by the needs of the learners;
and the testing of success, evaluation, and assessments are based upon
the improvement and expanded learning of students.”
The League for Innovation in The Community College proposed that it should not seem revolutionary for a college “to place learning first in every policy, program and practice in higher education;” not research, not politics, not spectator sports, but real learning! This means that “everyone from janitor to chancellor becomes focused on improving learning,” not seat time, not courses, not grades, not publishing, not grants…but everyone learning and learning to learn, to think critically and creatively! Those who are developing the idea insist that it will be very hard. They remind us of “the old saw—it is easier to move the cemetery than to change the curriculum.” However, it is not just the curriculum that needs to be moved into the cemetery to provide room for something better. The traditional classroom must be changed to enable individuals to assume responsibility for their own learning; and not just in electronic distance education.
This shift is crucial for efforts to use distance learning, via electronic communications, and to reach the billion who cannot come to a conventional campus with its seat-time requirements for graduation. For the advocates of this “learning college’ idea, “the time-bound, place-bound, efficiency-bound and role-bound institution is not sufficient to the tasks facing us in the 21st century.” No longer do community colleges exist in an agricultural and industrial society alone, but in an a global information society where these radical changes are required if a global virtual higher education is to meet the essential needs of the new age. “Students need a lifelong continuing learning process where school is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Therefore a global virtual community college should be restructured from the ground up, beginning with the electronic learning center in every neighborhood and in times and places where the old methods are no longer adequate. Education reform movements in the past—and there has been little change in the typical college classroom across several centuries--“have merely pruned the branches of a dead tree. It is time to plant a new tree,” the League for Innovation in the Community College is saying. The tools needed are ready. So how can this necessary transformation be taken into neighborhoods and into a global effort to provide education for all? The `learning college’ developers themselves ask: “How can you invent a new, learner-centered college?” We here expand that question to ask how it can be extended into a model for a global virtual community college.
If the needed revolution in teaching and learning, in the information age, presents “difficult issues and immense challenges for higher education,” work must being on new global architecture to meet global education needs. Many poorer countries must—with international assistance--concentrate their efforts in first developing better education for children and for universal literacy, then for secondary schools and job training, and, third, for higher education for leadership and entrepreneurial training to raise the economic level of the community and nation. All three of these can be brought into any neighborhood.
Perhaps the most significant ideas in the `learning community college’ concept will be difficult to implement until international telecommunications technology is cheaper and more advanced, but ways should be found to help distance learning students `work together in groups.” Some can, for example, work together on problems in their own geographic neighborhoods. It will be more difficult perhaps, even then, to do online what Jamilah (2001) reports at a `model’ community college: “involve students in the design of the course; they take more responsibility (then) for their learning.” However, perhaps by mid-century students will also be involved in the design and continually redesigning of the global virtual community college itself. Love (2000) has argued that the global knowledge economy requires ways to reach huge numbers of students on a mass scale.
Perhaps urban universities as well as community colleges will network globally to serve all their neighborhoods, but they may better serve poverty neighborhoods only after undertaking the research required to develop better models and through sharing `best practices’ from around the world. As the UNESCO 1998 conference on higher education recommended, “links with the world of work can be strengthened, through the increased use of domestic and international apprenticeship/work‑study opportunities for students and teachers, the exchange of personnel between the world of work and higher education institutions and revised curricula more closely aligned with working practices As a lifelong source of professional training, updating and recycling, institutions of higher education should systematically take into account of trends in the world of work and in the scientific, technological and economic sectors. In order to respond to the work requirements, higher education systems and the world of work should jointly develop and assess learning processes, bridging programmes and prior learning assessment and recognition programmes, which integrate theory and training on the job. Within the framework of their anticipatory function, higher education institutions could contribute to the creation of new jobs, although that is not their only function.
There probably will be other and better models for a global virtual cooperation among community and colleges that will concentrate on neighborhood community. The goals stated by UNESCO direct higher education institutions to equip local populations with new skills needed for an information age. The United States has already become a ‘learning society, with more than 40 percent of the population in some organized learning situation. In urbanized countries where support is eroding because the schools are failing so many children, especially the disadvantaged, education leaders begin to see that everyone in the community must now be their constituency. Ultimately that means taking seriously the partnership of all kinds of schools with business and with all of the other educational and training institutions to provide adequate learning opportunities to meet the educational needs of everyone on the plane while also being significantly involved in the needs of society.
The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View