Two of my biggest pet peeves about our higher educational system today are 1) the lack of reality; and relatedly, 2) the coddling of students. Both of these are partly behind my decision to never be a professor again. With these two characteristics, universities do a huge disservice to their students and society. I do not see either of these changing any time soon, unless new technologies like I-L-X challenge the status quo enough to change it.
When I first started teaching thirty years ago, my syllabi (like every other professor’s) were one or two pages long. Today most run to thirty or more pages – every expectation and requirement for students is laid out in excruciating detail. Employers complain that recent graduates expect this level of detail in their early jobs. Companies waste two to three years of employee productivity while these unrealistic expectations and bad habits, according to one CEO, are “beaten out” of new employees.
This trend has been driven by administrators whose sole purpose on the job is to avoid conflicts with students (and even, increasingly, with their parents). Many of the administrators advocating unrealistic coddling were never great teachers, in the first place – and all administrator have to deal with poor instructors who cannot be taken out of the classroom because of tenure. Higher level administrators rarely think about how to prepare students for life – they are too busy keeping their bosses, trustees, and faculty members happy. Maximum throughput and the least resistance become the metrics that guide their careers.
And all of this “administration” is in the context of a university where the tenured faculty – who hold all the power – have probably never had a job outside of academia in their lives. These are PhDs who go into that because they want a private office and an independent work life. They want a career where after five or ten years of work they can be assured that they will never lose their jobs. Even the vast majority of business professors have little clue what a job in a company is really like – they have little idea about the real life that all the rest of experience. They’ve read about it. And some have taught executive education courses. But without living through it, professors make awful mentors for what students will be doing after graduation.
Interactive Learning eXperiences have been designed and built by a team that understand the requirements of academia, but also is firmly grounded in the real, non-coddling world of business. In I-L-Xs there is no syllabus – just a task. Players have to figure out how to discover information and solve problems as you might in real life — talking to people, reports, news reports, videos, phone call, texts, emails.
Sound anything like your “real life?” Trust me, it isn’t anything like college.