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By John Montgomery
The University system here in the United States follows traditions that should perhaps be updated as we move into a globally competitive marketplace in the 21st century.

Colleges have experimented with Internet classes and distance learning courses that are aired over television channels. I propose that colleges establish a set of professional quality video taped lecture presentations for standard courses.

The video tapes could be kept in a special section of the university library, duplicated and sold along with textbooks, or even made availible publically through video rental stores such as Blockbuster.

If distance learning is successful, a video-taped lecture should be equally successful or more so. The students may watch their lectures on a television and arrange to speak to a professor in the role of tutor during the professor's office hours during the semester. Thus, a single professor could be on hand to answer questions for hundreds of students without the need to provide lectures. The highest quality lectures could then be mass duplicated so that the lecture experience is superb.

I spotted an article in the 1977 volume of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences in my college library that reported a scientific study comparing traditional education in calculus 1 to self-education by means of textbooks without lectures or other resources. Surprisingly, the outcome of the study showed that the students who studied themselves, from textbooks, without ever setting foot in a classroom, not only scored higher on final exams but learned the material in 2/3 the time. If this can be done for Calculus 1, this can surely be done for other subjects.

Let us support the University system by charging for comprehensive, written, final exams that will give full credit a course whether or not someone has stepped in a classroom. The costs can be adjusted to finance the University operating costs and research efforts. France uses this system - French Universities don't charge for tuition, just for the exams, and their education system is excellent. One who has experience in industry can thus gain from his experience without retraining in fundamentals when he tries to get a degree.

Another aspect of French education is the fact that courses all over the country of France teach a set course curriculum with no electives or course variation in different universities. The French spend a lot of effort to make the curriculum for someone such as a electrical engineer, for example, be everything which it needs to be for an engineer to walk out of school and go to work with all the skills he needs. French engineers work 35 hours a week and match or exceed the productivity of American engineers who work 50-60 hours a week ; people who work in international companies are aware that the productivity of the American worker is characteristically lower than that of foreign workers. I love America and say this only to bring attention to the fact that America has much room for growth in the productivity of the individual - I hope my observation encourages skeptical people to investigate this matter themselves to see the truth of it ; shame falls on people who would brush aside my remarks out of pride in American labor and never try to verify or disprove that I am telling the truth.

In summary, we should video tape high quality college lectures for every course where this can be done ; investigate the use of textbooks alone as learning resources for particular courses suited to this kind of approach ; charge for final exams rather than tuition ; and follow France in standardizing college courses nationally to the highest level of quality appropriate for entering the job market, eliminating electives not "essential" to the training effort.

Reward: I would feel rewarded if widespread discussion of these ideas could result in a commitment to test these plans.
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By Steve
How about using a simple webcam and broadcasting the lectures to the net?

P.S. There are in fact universities that will build in a few "traps" into the exams to figure out if you've actually attended the lectures or not. If you can't answer those key questions, they'll know that you've only learned by the book, and they won't let you pass. Don't know why they do it, though - maybe the vanity of European professors... :^
By lovetta604
as a school pupil i dont think this would be a good idea it might be hard to concentrate and would there be any one to make sure you do it
By aquemirrylle
" Learning is the only thing of the mind that never FEARS, never EXHAUSTS and never REGERTS!!!"
By aquemirrylle
" Learning is the only thing of the mind that never FEARS, never EXHAUSTS and never REGERTS!!!"
By matthewfelgate
lectures could be videos & stored online. Anyone who wants / needs to learn a certain topic will simply download the video & watch it. It would be a huge collection of all topics. There could then be coursework, assigments etc which are tested online via interactive tests or emailed to a coursework marker.
By patrick95
I could'nt agree with you more. We need to make our education system a lot more efficient. If I want to be a mechanical engineer, there's no reason I should have to take a course on art history.
We have a huge problem in the U.S with people not being able to afford to go to college. Get rid of the uneeded electives, you could cut the cost in half.
I will go one step further, lets rethink not only college but our whole education system. From k-12 I estimate I've spent 1500 hours in some sort of science class (earth science to chemistry). I never had any interest in science and did just what I had to to pass. Today I could probably read a 40 page book or watch a one hour show and know more about science than I retained through the 1500 hours of classes. If you ask me that adds up to a waste of taxpayer money.
Imagine this scenario, a 5yr old boy and his parents were on a cruiseship that sank, they drifted on a lifeboat to a desert island. Five years later they were rescued and brought home. All the little boys friends are now going into the fifth grade and have completed approx. 5000 hours of school, the little boy has not had one single minute of classroom education. What would the school system do?. I be willing to bet they would not send him to kindergarden. They would send him to some special classes for a summer and have him right up to par. I'd be willing to bet they could do it in under one hundred hours of classes. My district claims that it costs 8500$ a year for every childs education. So that means the little boys friends would have had 65000$ worth of schooling, the boy in question, maybe what, 4000$.
I'm not saying to do away with elementary, however lets reconfigure it. Lets shrink the days. I'm certain with better efficiency we could shrink the 6.5 hour day down to 3.5 hours. And in a three and a half hour day you would have no lunch or recess, but then again in a 3.5 hour day you would'nt need them. Then we can run the school in split sessions. This would result in the need for only half as many teachers, and the schools would only have to be half as big. No brainer if you ask me.
Then I say you give everychild a generalized education through elementary. In middle school you have guidance counselors work with the students, the teachers and the parents to decide what the student enjoys and excells in and come up with a career path for the child in high school. Lets teach our historians history, our mathmaticians math and our scientist science. We could use our highschools to replace college. Then every american would acess to a college degree for free, and at less cost to the taxpayer than we currently pay.
My Mife just came in and read what I have written, she said it will never work. She said parents want thier kids in scool all day so the dont have to deal with them, expecially if both parents work, they would have to pay for daycare. I said fine, we could ship the kids to a recreational facility, for the other four hours. It would still be cheaper to send the kids here for four hours than to school. Istead of needing one highpaid teacher for 20 kids you could have one lowpaid gymteacher like person watch over 40 or more kids. Then all the people whining about child obestity would shut up. And the kids would be a lot happier, healthier, less stressed and in a better mood to learn.
By One Way Home
As our technology develops, it will eventually become possible to ensure that each CHILD becomes very well educated by having a K-12 set of CD-ROMs that teach everything that child will need.

Further, the online self tests will be able to not only "hear" the child speak (to ensure pronunciation, etc.), but will be able to score the tests and determine where the child needs assistance.

It sounds "Big Brother," but the gov't could even "weight" such educational programs as it corresponds to national needs. For instance, if some national education/business/gov't board thinks that computer science and engineering skills will be in demand in a few years, the lessons, while remaining pretty much the same, might begin to emphasize areas related to these fields (e.g., math, science, programming, etc.).

It's kind of like the "Matrix" scene where "How to fly a Helicopter" is downloaded into one of the characters who needs to make a quick escape; however, it would ensure that our children do not fall victim to a poor school. This way, every child can either study from home or SUPPLEMENT their school studies to ensure that they are fully up to par.

I somewhat disagree, however, with the notion of letting engineers JUST take engineering related courses. We all need exposure to a range of study. We can create citizens, for instance, that can build a bridge second to none...but who have not learned the value of ethics, the value of art, the importance of Shakespeare, and so forth.

Yes, it's kind of warm and fuzzy, but just as the liberal arts major should have to take math and science to ensure a "renaissance" (spelling?) education, so too should the technical students be exposed to the arts, history, literature.

If nothing else, it is a fuller education.

Yes, perhaps it can be streamlined with fewer courses, but I think it should still remain.
By viridian
We want to watch that we don't lose the socializing aspects of education. People may or may not learn academic stuff better alone at home, but there's no way they can learn social interaction that way. And it's all very well saying parents want school to continue as a child care system...they do need a break from chld care. children need a break from parent care too! I'm not saying it's a totally bad idea but to there's other considerations. And some homes aren't suitable places for learning!
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