I didn’t see Bill Gates’ keynote at #SXSWedu, but I really enjoyed this piece by John Warner that takes on Gates’ use of the Yoda-Luke relationship in support of online learning as personalized learning. From Warner in Inside Higher Ed:
The assumptions that Gates and others like him bring to these discussions is that education, as is, is too expensive. After all, tuition is rising faster than inflation and college is threatening to become a bad investment. Technology, Gates argues, has the potential to make college cheaper, for example by not needing as many professors since, what the heck, we’ve got Yoda on tape!
Like Gates, I’m distressed by rising tuition and the strain it puts on my students. Many more of them are taking on shocking amounts of debt, or trying to work full-time jobs while also being full-time students.
But I get distressed when the discussion turns immediately towards the corporate buzzwords of “efficiency” and “productivity.” In the 90’s, when unemployment was 4% and we were all getting rich on our shares of Pets.com, I don’t remember people falling over themselves criticizing our system of higher education.
Not that we can’t get better, but the truth is, we’re actually pretty good at it. The teaching/learning model is not particularly mysterious. Students benefit from being in the presence of their Jedi-masters. Sometimes a hologram is okay, but it isn’t a substitute for the real, little green thing.
I am a huge proponent of the campus given that my research hypothesizes some entrepreneurial value on campus. We know Gates fully knows the value of the density of people and face to face interactions that a campus provides. His interactions in both his high school and at Harvard were crucial to his early development and the creation of Microsoft. Enjoy the article.