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How the College Landscape Has Changed in 2021/2022: Distance Learning, Big Data and Funding

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It is the privilege of each generation to pass on its knowledge. The education system should represent the top priority of any society.

Taking a break from regular topics such as writing an essay, this article will analyze college education’s changing landscape.

Remote Learning

The Cons of Remote Learning

For better or worse, going to college has become a rite of passage for most young people.

However, recent developments have endangered the education process.

A global pandemic caused by a virus transmitted via proximity has made people hesitant to share enclosed spaces. Since classes are nothing but large gatherings in closed rooms, the issue becomes obvious.

Somehow, the education system must find a solution to the virus’s issue without compromising its service quality. However, that is easier said than done.

Most evidence suggests that humans are wired to learn from teachers in-person, and any other method represents an inferior substitute.

Those who want to make a permanent switch to remote learning are objectively wrong because you cannot change humanity’s biological substrate by wishing it away.

In addition, the consequences will be slow to show themselves. We can rely on test scores to some extent, but test score results are notoriously poor competence predictors.

Although it is not a general rule, test scores demonstrate that the student is good at taking tests. It is also known that test standards have been repeatedly lowered to accommodate and hide the issue of failing school performance.

In essence, using a sub-optimal method of teaching for an extended period of time will have dire consequences. Those consequences will not necessarily be reflected in exams but in a society-wide drop in productivity and competence.

The Pros of Remote Learning

Yet, the situation is not entirely bleak. Remote learning brings some very tangible advantages.

For example, a massive barrier to entry into college is removed. Most people cannot hope to return to college because of their financial situation.

Working a full-time job will require most of the student’s time. If the job implies working in shifts, it will make it even harder to attend classes. Remote work allows for more flexibility, and it reduces travel time.

If recorded, classes can be viewed and referenced later, while follow-up questions can be prepared for live sessions.

At the moment, half of American higher education institutions are at least partly online.

Overall, remote learning is ideal for current society’s economic and social environment, despite its lackluster results. It makes it easier for people to work their way through college since the loan system has often been described as “debt slavery.”

Big Data

The Cons of Big Data

For better or worse, there will never be a generation of humans who will enjoy complete privacy. No person will ever be completely left alone, unfilmed, and unanalyzed.

Monitoring human behavior and harvesting the resulting data has become a trillion-dollar industry.  The patterns that can be observed from these data trends are almost infinitely valuable.

Advertisers were the first to catch on, yet the education system will soon follow in those steps.

Some students and members of the public feel like this overly-invasive harvesting is an assault on their basic dignity as human beings. There are those who value their privacy and do not appreciate being tracked and analyzed without their consent.

The Pros of Big Data

Of course, Big Data is rarely malicious and is used mostly for financial purposes. Some academic applications include:

  1. The educational institution can get a birds-eye view of their situation. Having all of the data sets in front of you can better organize your thoughts and highlight any strategy’s failings.
  2. Data software can help to reduce college dropout rates. Purdue is currently developing software dubbed Course Signals. Without getting too much into the technical weeds, the program monitors activity from the student body and looks for problems. Both the troubled students and the teachers will be contacted if someone is lagging behind.

Having hundreds of students can cause even the most caring teachers to miss signs of distress. This software is meant to correct that issue.

Boston University is experimenting with software that tracks Covid spread patterns amongst their students. This data can be useful in avoiding massive waves of contamination.

Basically, the software is useful for slowing the spread, aside from more conventional methods.

Funding

The United States higher education system has some of the best universities in the world. Beyond a doubt, the results produced are second to none.

However, there are flaws especially when it comes to funding.

It is almost a cliche for members of the older generation to mention that they paid for college via their summer jobs. Gone are those days, given that the average tuition costs somewhere between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Colleges are money pits, and the amount of waste is staggering.

Comparable institutions from other developed nations have similar results for a tenth of the budget. And, most are subsidized by the state.

Instead of investing in a home or starting their lives, society encourages 17-years old children to take out a sizable fortune in debt just so they have a chance at a decent job.

This explains the aforementioned term: “debt slavery”. There are people who have reached retirement age and are still paying for their college debt.

However, a ray of sunshine may be on the horizon. Colleges have shown a notable trend of trying to attract private investors. More and more of their resources are getting diverted to establishing competent research and development departments.

The goal is to attract investment from powerful multinational corporations, a way for the institution to pay the bills.

Some argue that this new direction is ripe for abuse. Corporations will finance biased studies and refuse to fund studies that hurt their bottom line.

This will undoubtedly happen, yet the alternative is not only unpleasant, it is untenable.

Conclusion

With education, society lays the groundwork for its survival. We benefit from luxury and technology because thousands of generations have saved, passed on, and built upon knowledge.

In 2021/2021, that fundamental process is in danger. From political instability to a global pandemic and economic issues, these factors are reshaping the way tomorrow’s professionals are being trained.

We won’t see the consequences for a while, and such as lack of feedback implies that we need to be even more cautious.

About the author

CB Community

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.