Tag Archives: lifetime education

Digging deeper into No. 1 of Paddy’s Dangerous Ideas

I think the time has come for us to do a lot more with No. 1 of Paddy’s Dangerous Ideas.

We persist in the medieval practice of taking students to medieval ivy-covered buildings, to receive their education in the medieval manner from minds, too many of which, when it comes to delivering education, are stuck in the middle ages. Yet distance learning was pioneered in Britain at the Open University when communicating with your tutor meant stuffing your academic paper in an envelope, licking it, sticking a stamp on it and putting it in the local post-box.

Today the whole planet is into distance learning. Many of our own Universities make tons of money providing distance learning degree courses to students all over the world. But none of them are in Britain! If we were to convert at least part of our tertiary education syllabus to distance learning we might reduce the cost of degrees without diminishing their quality, give students more flexibility, force lecturers into the modern age, widen access and create a superb platform for adult education all at the same time.

Why, beloved Lib Dems, do we allow medieval vested interests to preserve our ivy-covered tertiary education system exactly as it is, loading more and more debt on students and preventing us from doing what much of the rest of the world is doing already? Just asking?

This idea has come back to me in North Devon. A local councillor in South Molton, not realising that it was one of Paddy’s Dangerous Ideas, spoke to me at length about how wonderful the Open University was. How in places like North Devon, where there are no universities, and a real lack of opportunity to advance skills, one can still access the Open University and get a degree. He asked me, how can we build on this model and enable everyone in North Devon to upskill and train?

I am suggesting that one of our best ways of honouring Paddy is to bring some of his Dangerous Ideas into fruition.

Let’s champion life-long learning, as Vince has promoted, by building online learning platforms so that people, whether they live in North Devon or in Shetland, can achieve the same level of accreditation and training as those who live in cities. Let’s put in place 21st-century methods of education, and not be stuck in the medieval model of tutorials and physical lectures.

We have a real opportunity to lead here and I think it is a fantastic opportunity for us. Promoting virtual education is education-for-all, not just those who can take time off for university or afford three years of tuition without working at the same time.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 26 Comments

If you thought our stance on tuition fees was controversial… – the case for Lifetime Education

 

Whether you are for or against our actions on tuition fees, we can’t pretend it’s not still an open wound for us. It’s an elephant in the room when talking to non-Lib Dems and when discussed between Lib Dems it leads to a row. The irony is that this all happened whilst higher and further education are in their death throes.

The current model of a child attending school, then choosing whether to enter the workforce until retirement at that point or to take a few years of higher education first, then never attending education for the rest of his/her life, will be archaic.

This week The Daily Mail took a break from bashing immigrants, judges or spinning the “What Can Give You Cancer” wheel and turned its attention on the threat posed by robots “ROBOTS TO STEAL 15M OF YOUR JOBS” their headline roared. Their headline isn’t wrong – whether it’s 15 million, 5 million or one in 11 jobs –many of the jobs humans do today will soon be automated by, for want of a less sci-fi description, “robots”. And, as the limitations of and the cost to produce these robots lowers, the more common they will become. We need to adapt to this.

Over the past 30-40 years the amount of careers available to people who enter the workforce without a higher education has reduced dramatically, with more people being accepted into universities and the ICT revolution of the 1990s seeing many low-skilled jobs move overseas – this, I would argue, has led to the rise of the anger against globalisation amongst the white working class. A generation ago you could leave school, find a decent career – working your way up the ladder until retirement.  This career narrative is now on the endangered list and robots will knock it into extinction.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments
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