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Will U.S. colleges and universities lead or lag in education innovation?

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In this century, education has become the most critical adaptive function in the competitive, global knowledge economy. Yet production of more college graduates alone will not help the United States lead the world. What type of evolutionary change must the nation unleash to not only deal with the challenges of educating an increasingly diverse population, but also to provide the kind of lifelong education the modern economy requires?

A panel of leaders in higher education addressed this question before an audience of more than 200 at a forum hosted by Arizona State University at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The panel included Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University; Jeff Selingo, senior editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education; Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program of the New American Foundation; Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education; and Matt Leavy, chief executive officer of Pearson eCollege. Soraya Gage, general manager of NBC Learn and Education Nation, moderated the panel.

The conversation ranged on topics from technology and the delivery of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCS), to the value of higher education and providing greater opportunity for students from broader socioeconomic demographics.

The panelists agreed that online education is becoming a substantial part of higher education, but it is premature to draw any conclusions on what role MOOCS will play in providing quality education to the masses.

"MOOCS signify a substantial sea level rise in that they 'float all boats,' but they are not a replacement," Crow said. "The Internet becomes a more powerful tool, and everyone will adapt that tool in a way that advances their own learning environment."

Carey stressed the potential MOOCS have in bringing higher education to those around the world without the means or opportunity.

Expanding on the topic of opportunity, the conversation continued onto what universities and colleges were doing to be more inclusive. ASU was recognized as a leader in this area and Crow stressed that the university is "committed to finding talent wherever it sits." "Talent," he said, "is distributed among all levels of socioeconomic status" and students who are academically qualified should not be denied an education due to lack of financial means.

Selingo said that college is becoming less affordable for many because higher education is in a prestige race and that to move up the ratings means being exclusive. Not all students, he said, should seek out these exclusive universities because it simply does not pay off.

"Matching in higher education is not very good," he said. "The institution has more information about the students, than the students have about the institution. It's about finding the right education at the most affordable cost."


SOURCE Arizona State University

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