Dear Students, Here’s Why We Are Failing You

We need a new direction for education

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

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Photo courtesy of author

We live in an increasingly digital world. No surprise here.

Our students grew up in an environment surrounded by digital technology. Yet, our educational system continues to be very traditional — and analog — in its approach. We provide the students with reading materials, build classes and exercises around the materials, and test their knowledge and skills at the end of each course.

Obviously, there are still excellent courses — also too many bad ones. But the question is: Are we failing our students by clinging so tightly to the traditional approach? Why are we forcing our digital native students into a system that was designed in a different age.

Change is necessary

We had an opportunity to change the system.

When forced to teach remotely at the turn of the century, we slowly but surely started to rethink education. But so far, no significant changes have been implemented. Instead, most schools and universities have introduced measures encouraging (and often forcing) students to come to campus and consume information in full lecture rooms again.

We seem to forget that the students and the tools available to them have changed. Their digital devices give them instant access to a wealth of information — whenever and wherever. These devices allow for a flexible lifestyle that was unheard of when I was in college. Today’s students can process and share information as they see fit.

And there are no limits to being creative. Videos. Pictures. Blogs. The necessary tools for creativity are all in the students’ back pockets.

So why do we continue to be so slow in making the necessary changes to our school system?

Change is challenging

When you attend a meeting about change in education, it won’t take long to get the answer to this question.

The person who proposes the change (no matter how substantiated the initiative) will quickly be discouraged when he or she hears about the bureaucratic and other time-consuming procedures that must be followed.

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Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.