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Imagining the Future of the University

Imagining the Future of the University

Lisa Spiro (@lisasprio) has written a review for the Chronical of Higher Education, of the recent De Lange Conference, "The Future of the Research University in a Golden Age" at Rice University.

At the conference, John Seely Brown (JSB) and HASTAC's own Cathy Davidson spoke about the need for reconceiving education:

"Cathy Davidson and John Seely Brown (JSB) articulated learning frameworks for the fluid, dynamic Digital Age rather than the Industrial Age. Davidson explained that many of the practices we associate with education, including multiple choice tests and attention to task, were designed to serve the needs of the Industrial Age for standardization and a regulated labor force. In contrast, the Digital Age calls for mash-ups, customization, multi-tasking, data mining, and collaboration by difference. Davidson suggested that we should ensure that kids know how to code (and thus understand how technical systems work), enable students to take control of their own learning (such as by helping to design the syllabus and to lead the class), and devise more nuanced, flexible, peer-driven assessments. Asking “are we preparing students for the interdisciplinary approach necessary to solving grand challenges?,” JSB advocated for entrepreneurial, playful approaches to learning. He celebrated the creative problem-solving represented by design practices, which bring together thinking and doing (“head and hand”), provide an environment where it is OK to fail, and engage in peer and collective critiquing to promote new perspectives. Likewise, Vest (who was president of MIT when it launched the Open Course Ware initiative) suggested that universities can help to solve grand challenges by bringing together bits and brains, providing open access to data and enabling people to learn and solve problems."

To read the entire article, please go to


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