TED Conversations

Ron Burnett

President and Vice-Chancellor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design


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Are Educational Institutions responding to the challenges of teaching and learning in the 21st Century?

The Digital Age offers all sorts of opportunities for learners ranging from the formal to the informal, from the Web to the classroom and the studio. Why do educational institutions continue to rely on traditional models of learning? Why have schedules, disciplines and departments remained the same as in the 20th Century? Why has the architecture of schools changed so little? How have learners changed?


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    Feb 18 2011: Students come with a wide variety of knowledge, past experiences, expectations, and needs. No one model can fit all of that. Instead we have a wide variety of models such as continuing education, community colleges, traditional face-to-face degree programs and increasingly online education.

    With so many different programs and delivery mechanisms we can access education whenever and wherever we need it for whatever we need. Degrees are far less important than engendering a sense of lifelong learning.
    I tell my students if they ever say "if it ain't broke don't fix it" or All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten I'll give them an instant F.

    In the past it was often assumed that one would get a degree and then they would get a job and more or less continue in that career path for their life. That was never fully true and is not at all true now. We must be constantly creative and prepared to reinvent ourselves. Very simply this means we must be committed to lifelong learning in all of its various forms both inside and outside of schools.

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