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Oct 20

Dr. John Hennessy’s lecture

A couple of weeks back in my leadership class, we were asked to journal 3 gratitides to “kick off” our day on a positive note. Here is one of the most important experiences I am truly grateful for. Since I have a vested interest in the world of education and academics (and I beleive we all do), what better opportunity can I get than listening to the tenth president of Stanford University. There were two primary reasons due to which I was excited about the lecture from the moment I got to know about it.

1. The lecture was delivered by a world leader in the field of academics, a thought leader, an authority in the “curiosity rich” field of education, and head of of one of the most prestigious institutes of higher learnings in the world.

2. The lecture centered around online education and its various implications on our society.

The entire lecture was enriching and enlightning and I made my best efforts to capture as many pearls of wisdom as I could on my iPhone. These are some of the highlights and insights that jumped out at me and now have become permanent residents in my mind.

1. Assesment fit in the class: No two students are equal. A better way to put it is – every student has a unique skill set. Since there is a dynamic range in students abilities, cultivating a utopian assesment system that challanges the best students while allowing the least capable to show some mastery at the same time is a point of concern for most centers of learnings these days.

2. Adieu to the lecture halls: Tehnology has transmogrified every industry it has touched. The next “Tsaunami”, as Dr. Hennessy suggests, will be experienced by the education industry. With sopisticated infrastructure in place in our “bits and bytes” world, success of online educational institutions like Khan Academy, and the massive efforts like edX by elite universities such as Harvard and MIT make it an incontestable point that higher learning is all set for a massive disruption. The time this transformation takes is, albeit, an open question.

3. Cost side of Online: Thanks to the knowledge intesive world we reside in, instructors and academicians have become an “elite group” in our society. A consequence of this is that the cost of traditional education has drastically increased. Online education can become a saviour in bringing down not only the operating costs but making education inclusive by expanding its reach.

4. “Some people will always cheat”: There are certain issues that are augmented because of the “very nature” of the online world. Identification of cheating and plagiarism in the virtual world poses a major challenge that will need to be addressed. In my opinion, an unfortunate fact is that some people do not have a clear realization that everytime someone cheats, he or she murders not only originality but also eliminates his or her opportunity to cultivate and develop a depth in their thought process.

In addition to the learnings, it has strengthened my resolve to pursue a research-oriented career and play a role in the society through my chosen field of specialization. Overall, it was one of the most thought provoking lectures I have ever attended.

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