Universities vs. corporations

The topic of my Management Information Systems class this morning was the use of information technology in education.  My professor, a critic of the traditional education model, drew this disturbing comparison: how business is done versus how education is done.  I was shocked.  “But business is USING information, and education is GETTING information!” I thought.

But what about corporate education?  Someone near me briefly brought up the topic, but I couldn’t get my thoughts together to respond—I was still flustered by the apples to oranges comparison I’d just heard.  Corporate education and university education are certainly of the same species.  Certainly one may be improved by using principles of the other.

People in charge of university education want students to know they can fail. After all, what else would they threaten students with, a trip to the principal’s office?  One of the aims of corporate education is to have everyone pass.  That doesn’t mean the information is dumbed down; it means the student is simply expected to learn the material.  University students should think like this.

Corporate education is more interactive. As my professor pointed out, the model of university education hasn’t changed much.  Students sit in their seats and occasionally ask questions or contribute to a discussion while the professor talks.  On the opposite end, my coworkers design interactive online training.  Students can go at their own pace, and the participation required keeps them engaged.

It becomes clear that universities need to be taking notes from corporations.  After all, students pursue higher education to work at these very companies, and they may graduate unprepared for the job.

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