The Future of Education – Recapping the Discussion

This month’s topic for our Digital Liberal Arts series focused on the future of education. We started off our discussion by reflecting, as a team, on our own experiences with change in higher education before turning the discussion over to faculty and adminstrators in the audience.

If you weren’t able to join us for the town hall, you can still catch the live stream below:

Here are a few of the topics we covered in the Town Hall event:

  • What does a liberal arts experience look like for increasingly non-traditional students (i.e. working adults, commuter students, fully online students)?
  • How do we as faculty and institutions advocate for and build structures to support these non-traditional students?
  • Where does learning happen? As a public liberal arts institution with an obligation to the people of the state, how do we redesign course structures (scheduling, credit hours, seat-time etc.) to make education accessible?
  • What’s the value of a degree? How do new ways of thinking about credentialing sit alongside the value of liberal arts education? Again, how can liberal arts institutions help drive thinking about enrichment courses, certification, continuing education, lifelong learning?
  • What counts? How do we respond to the litany of buzz words like mastery, badging, bootcamps, gamification, prestige, and grit?

As you can see from the range of topics, we covered a lot of ground. The conversation came to a close with the realization that these questions are not necessarily new – institutions continually evaluate themselves and adapt to their environment. One of the themes I heard was that we now have an opportunity to bring value to our community in new ways, through reaching new student populations and new channels through which we can interact with the community. Our faculty also thoughtfully reflected on the changing expectations among our student population for communication, especially as we reach more adult and working learners. If meaningful student/faculty interaction is a key component of the experience we offer as an institution, we should highlight that question as we design our online courses and programs.

We followed this up with a design sprint focused on public annotation in, which we felt represented the type of open work we may see more of in the near future of the digital liberal arts. Not only was this a great opportunity to kick the tires on an annotation platform — we also had a discussion about the ethical implications of annotating in public on webpages and documents. We shared some resources on annotation, including Jeremy Dean’s blog at

Next month we’ll be talking about ethical online learning, starting with Town Hall on Tuesday, November 1 at 4pm in Digital Auditorium. You can join our webcast live and chime in to the conversation any time on Twitter using #DoOO. Hope to see you there!

Image by d26b73 licensed CC-BY 2.0