Where is my university? Where does it need to be?

Universities must avail of collaborative technologies to provide real global learning experiences for undergraduates

:Cricket ground at Trinity College Dublin
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I was lucky enough to spend four great years in Trinity College Dublin – way back when (1980-1984) – studying for an engineering degree.  A combination of study, growing up, socialising, forming many friendships which survive to now, playing lots of sport.

We did not have lap tops, we did not have mobile phones, we did not have social networks.

In truth much of what we were taught as undergraduates was as well, if not better covered, in various text books.  There were limited opportunities for practicals, tutorials, projects, opportunities to interact with lecturers and/or Phd dtudents.  These opportunities were actually the potential added value over and above the text books.

As I work and live in a web 2.0 and, increasingly, a web 3.0 world I wonder how my children will participate in 3rd level education – should they choose to do so.

The real opportunity I see for current and future undergraduates is collaboration.   It seems to me that undergraduates attending TCD should be involved in online collaboration with undergraduates and people in industry – based across the world.  The technology allows for this.  The challenge is for the universities to become more open and collaborative.

An interesting piece this week by Kevin Maney in Business Week: Next, An internet revolution in higher education. Kevin, with a slightly different perspective, seems to point to a lot of the same ideas and challenges for third level insitutions.

I think the opportunities in education and ‘global development’ for young people now are greater than ever.  I hope that universities can continue to provide a great experience to be shared by people (predominantly young – but with much more integration with ‘mature’ students) – while exploiting the news technologies to broaden the horizons for all.

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Author: Barry OGorman

Barry O'Gorman is an independent business and IT consultant, based in Dublin, Ireland.

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