There are a lot of popular show on television you the do it yourselfer, from the long lasting “This Old House” to craft show on PBS. In the technology area Linux and open-source software are allowing people to take charge and do it themselves. The latest DYI is education. Ordinary people taking their education into their own hands. People are using Web 2.0 tools to access a whole world of knowledge that is available to them. They are by passing classrooms, lectures, and official curricula. People are coming up with their own ways of educating themselves. Ways that don’t include conventional tools, but rather new devices like wikis, blogs, and open-source textbooks to learn what they want.
The educational system is too slow to respond to today’s world. It is attempting to do the impossible. It attempts to train students for be able to perform specific jobs in the real world and by the time the student graduates, the real world has changed. The reason for this is very simple. Colleges and universities see themselves as trade schools. They teach you to be a computer programmer. They teach you how to be a marketeer. They teach how to be an accountant. They teach you a skill. They do not educate. With the availability of today’s technology skill development can be done online. No one needs the type of four year program we have today to learn job skills. Our education system does not understand that. They keep trying to turn out students with a specific skill set. And by the time the student graduates the skills are out dated.
But part of the problem is businesses do not know what to ask for. They ask for someone who can do task X. Not realizing that by the time they get that person out of the educational system task X no longer needs to be accomplished. Rather, they now need task Y completed.
How to solve the dilemma? Stop having colleges and universities trying to be trade schools. With web 2.0 people can self educate themselves in skill development. Colleges and universities need to get back to a liberal arts education and teaching students to think critically.