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Minerva Week 7: the Future of Higher Education?

October 20, 2014

In class this week, I had to make a persuasive video about a global security issue, examine the role of emotional priming in law, think about how to build up research results into broadly applicable meta-analyses, and wrangle with probability distributions and the Central Limit theorem.

This weekend, I was the scribe at a weekend-long discussion about the future of higher education. It was held in Niagara-on-the-Lake – Ontario’s “wine country”. Professors, provosts, students, policy wonks and a reporter talked about many possible futures of higher education. I was peppered with questions about Minerva – people are fascinated by the venture. And rightly so, I think. It is a bold idea that has been brought to life and, with our help, will be brought to scale.

In a session I facilitated with other students, I talked about my visit to Stanford’s d.school. I shared the quote I read there: “This generation enters higher education the most highly structured ever, and leaves higher education to face a world more uncertain and ambigious than ever before,” and spoke about the flash of recognition it inspired in me.

We wended and traipsed through the land of ideas, problems and barriers for most of the weekend, but just as I thought we were getting hopelessly lost, we suddenly converged onto a few meaningful projects – discipline-specific “targeted marketing” of best practices in technology-infused teaching was one of them. I left the weekend fascinated and more optimistic than I had entered it.

Though I was fighting a cold that just wouldn’t quit, I managed to have a lovely weekend. Wine tastings, late-night walks, getting lost in listening and scribing, and roasting ice-wine marshmallows. I am so grateful to have been there. Tomorrow night I leave for Quebec City for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference, the last stop on my “educational whirlwind tour” before I return to San Francisco.

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