I was part of a discussion about our students. I was in a great session at SGHE Summit Conference facilitated by my good friend Brian Knotts (@brian_knotts) titled the Future of ERP. The discussion began with a suggestion from me that our higher education institutions need to find ways to become “open, candid and people centred”. I suggested that if we could incorporate the social media concepts of activity streams and ranking (“likes”) we might be able to break down the silos that have been built over the decades.
That led to a vigorous debate about various topics spanning from risk management, educational quality, academic policies, compliance rules around privacy and finally to the value delivered by higher education. A tread that developed centred around our students. A good number of the conservative (my opinion only) folks in the room steadfastly stated that our students are products of the education system that we deliver. As such, there was no need to engage in social media practices because student = products.
I was completely floored by this prevailing belief … students are products?? Really?? I always thought of them as customers or clients and absolutely believe they are individuals not things.
Whether we like it or not, there is a fundamental shift in higher education and it is centred around students and choice. Students are in the drivers seat not faculty or administration. If we continue to treat our students like products, they will go elsewhere. And that elsewhere is the place that treats them like customers and focuses educational activities around what they want.
This does not mean we need to compromise educational quality or academic policies. It does mean that we need to listen to our students and deliver education in a manner that engages them. Social higher education puts the student at the centre of all activities. This is a fundamental change from the prevailing approach of focusing on our faculty or the administration as the primary customers our higher education organizations and students as products. Can we make the change? Do we have the courage to do it?
Here are a series of short opinions about this topic. Enjoy!
I am very interested in your opinions and thoughts on this topic. Please contribute with your comments.