Co-authored by Tom Kompas
With the move from an agrarian to an industrial economy, the small rural schoolhouse was supplanted by the big brick schoolhouse. Four decades ago we began to move to another economy but we have yet to develop a new educational paradigm, let alone create the ‘schoolhouse’ of the future, which may be neither school nor house.”
Stan Davis and Jim Botkin, The Monster Under the Bed
Our evolving system of higher education has been undergoing a paradigm shift since the 1980s. Some universities have moved away from unidirectional, instructor-focused teaching to a more distributed, student experience. Likewise, most medical schools in the United States began using problem-based curricula decades ago and improved results in student performance followed.1 Business schools are slowly beginning a similar shift.
- Independent Learning (Level I): This level will be available to everyone who would like to obtain the knowledge within the course, but does not need university credits, faculty interaction, or a certificate of completion. It will allow individuals to complete the course asynchronously and for free, with all of the content available online. This level will not provide any faculty interaction but will facilitate interaction with others taking the course. One of the biggest benefits of this level will be the availability of the content to people in developing countries. It will provide them peer-reviewed information to teach with and utilize free of charge.
- Certificate of Completion (Level II): This level will be for professionals, or anyone in the public, who would like to receive a certificate of completion but do not require university credits. The certificate of completion would be granted by the MetaUnivesity, with the backing of the universities within the collaboration, for a small fee. Such professional certifications are in high demand as employers are requiring additional knowledge and skills from their employees as markets and situations shift. Unlike Level I, this level will provide some faculty interaction and can be taken asynchronously or on a semester schedule.
- University Credit (Level III): The third level would be for those students who would like to receive university credits for a course. Course credits would be required for anyone who wishes to receive an accredited university degree. These degrees would come directly from the university that the student is enrolled in. The courses they would be required to take would also be determined through the requirements set by the university they were enrolled in. The courses could be offered by one or more faculty members, but students from any university within the collaborative would be able to take the course. This level would provide full faculty interaction and give students an experience that would match or exceed that of a traditional face-to-face course.
|Robert Costanza and Joshua Farley developed an atelier on the topic of Payment for Ecosystem Services that included an intensive two-week component held in Costa Rica in spring 2007 involving an interdisciplinary team of faculty, scientists, graduate students, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and various local and international policy makers. This two-week workshop was organized by Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, and the International Centre of Economic Policy for Sustainable Development (CINPE). This atelier, with its international and cross-discipline participants, was able to produce multiple outputs, including a special issue of Ecological Economics, on payment for ecosystem services.9 Many of these papers were coauthored by students, local policy makers, and international scholars.|
The main elements of these courses include: (1) transdisciplinary, problem-based learning; (2) community-client sponsorship; (3) stakeholder participation; (4) blurring of the distinction between faculty and student, research and education; (5) adaptive management and flexible working groups; and (6) appropriate and practical communication of results.6,7
- Schmidt, HG, Vermeulen, L & Van Der Molen, HT. Longterm effects of problem-based learning: A comparison of competencies acquired by graduates of a problem-based and a conventional medical school. Medical Education40, 562–567 (2006).
- Allen, LE & Seaman, J. Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010 (Babson Survey Research Group, Babson Park, MA, 2010).
- Dykman, CA & Davis, CK. The shift toward online education. Journal of Information Systems Education 19, 11 (2008).
- Martin, FG. Will massive open online courses change how we teach? Communications of the ACM 55, 26–28 (2012).
- Allen, LE & Seaman, J. Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009 (Babson Survey Research Group, Babson Park, MA, 2010).
- Cowling, RM & Costanza, R. Valuation and management of fynbos ecosystems. Ecological Economics 22, 103–104 (1997).
- Campbell, BM, Costanza, R & van den Belt, M. Special section: Land use options in dry tropical woodland ecosystems in Zimbabwe: Introduction, overview and synthesis. Ecological Economics 33, 341–351 (2000).
- Lessig, L. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (Vintage Books, New York, 2002).
- Farley, J & Costanza, R. Payments for ecosystem services: From local to global. Ecological Economics 69, 2060–2068 (2010).
Global learning image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.