A blog post contributed to the Huffington Post last year (visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edward-guiliano-phd/technology-higher-education_b_2008733.html) made much of the fact that today’s university students are far more digitally tuned in than their predecessors and the author, Edward Guiliano, noted that this may give them abilities to synthesize information and incubate ideas that far outrank any other generation in history. Dr. Guiliano, who is also President of the New York Institute of Technology, notes that as university classrooms become more accustomed to “screeners,” the learning experience will begin to focus more on creative solutions to existing problems. The challenge will be to promote and facilitate social interaction in a global classroom, he says, and IOU Foundation applauds his insight.
The fact that traditional universities have begun to understand the value of both digital learning opportunities and the globalization of learning is heartening. When we began providing PhD learning programs to people focused on social change three decades ago, we were one of very few educational foundations that had taken to heart both the value of distance learning technology and the globalization of education. With decades of experience behind us, we’ve become familiar with the exciting possibilities the process permits, as well as the challenges.
Distance learning works best when students—we call them “learners” —are very independent and very motivated to learn. Also important is a high degree of intellectual curiosity and a strong organizational capability. For IOU Foundation learners, an interest in and ability to work with digital technology is also important. All of our programs are customized for the individual learner and they are all completed online. There is abundant opportunity to consult with faculty and because most of our learners are mature students who are also working full time (and possibly balancing family and charitable commitments as well), a key component of success is the ability to set deadlines and do what it takes to meet them.
Dr. Guiliano noted in his blog post that he can see a day when digital learning creates far more creative learning opportunities for university students; at IOU Foundation, we can certainly confirm that this has been our experience. Our learners are all focused on developing creative solutions to common global problems and in fact, one of the pre-requisites to studying with us is a demonstrated interest in social change. We don’t foresee social interaction being a problem for other universities going forward, as it’s been our experience that our learners develop communities of friends and colleagues around them wherever they are and we’ve seen first-hand how vibrant these communities can be.
It’s exciting to see other universities start to embrace the concept of using technology to promote learning. We wish them well in their endeavors and congratulate them on their initiative. As a pioneer in the world of distance learning, IOU Foundation knows first-hand how valuable technology is as a partner in the mission to improve global living conditions through education. And if you would like to find out more about how our PhD program can help you make the difference you are here to make in the world, we encourage you to contact us for more information.